For many, an estate car is a sign of growing up. Gone are the days of carefree fun and speed and in their place have come family, responsibility and practicality. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The market remains awash with high performance estate cars that can bring entertainment as well as practicality, but which is best? Let’s take a look at some of the options…
If it’s speed you’re after then the E63 certainly puts forward a strong case. Powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine, the four-wheel drive estate car produces an impressive 563bhp, which becomes 604bhp if you step up to the higher-end S model, which has a limited top speed of 186mph.
Despite having all the speed and performance of a supercar, it also offers a good level of practicality, including 640 litres of boot space at the back. It would appear to be the perfect all-rounder but it doesn’t come cheap, starting at just over £81,000.
When it comes to motorsport pedigree, there aren’t many brands that come as well stocked as Porsche. The Panamera Sport Turismo taps into that heritage, especially with the eye-wateringly fast Turbo S E-Hybrid. The quickest car in the range, the Turbo S E-Hybrid has a top speed of 192mph and is powered by a 4.0-litre V8 engine and electric motor with a combined output of 671bhp.
In terms of practicality, petrol-powered models come with 487 litres of boot space while hybrids have a slightly reduced 418 litres. Prices for base models start around the £75,000 mark with the model holding its value well compared to some of its rivals.
Ford has a reputation for building fast yet practical cars dating back to the 1960s and this latest ST Estate certainly continues that fine tradition. Armed with a 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo engine, the Focus ST produces 276bhp.
It also boasts a huge 728-litre boot and comfortable space in the back for three passengers of 6ft each. Prices start at £33,000, making it the cheapest car on our list so far.
As an all-rounder, the Octavia VRS Estate is certainly a car that takes some beating. The most economical diesel model can offer fuel economy of over 40mpg but the fastest petrol cars are still capable of over 150mph.
Prices start below £30,000 and for that drivers are getting a vehicle that can do it all. The VRS is available with petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid powertrains and offers an impressive boot space of between 600 and 640 litres. An incredibly versatile performer.
Despite appearing to be a sensible family estate car, the RS4 Avant is actually one of the best performance models Audi currently has on sale. Powered by a twin-turbocharged 2.9-litre V6 petrol engine, the RS4 produces 444bhp and has a 0-60mph time of just 3.9 seconds – enough to leave many more powerful cars in its dust.
It delivers all that power without compromising on practicality and still has a 505-litre boot with all the seats in place. Prices start at around £60,000, making it almost double the price of the Focus ST but there will certainly be those that believe the good-looking RS4 is worth every penny.
While the first ever M3 Touring, due later in the year, may soon top the list as the best estate BMW has to offer, for the time being that title is certainly held by the 3-Series Touring. The powerful M340i xDrive model is among the very best on offer and produces 369bhp from a 3.0-litre petrol engine. It can do the 0-60mph sprint in as little as 4.3 seconds and also looks great – in an understated sort of way.
It also enjoys a 500-litre boot, plenty of space in both the front and rear seats and boasts a good level of tech. There is also a huge range of petrol, diesel and electrified powertrains to choose from.
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