For many, a station wagon 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.
The market continues to be flooded with high-performance estate cars that can provide both entertainment and functionality, but which one is the best? Let’s take a look at some of the options…
If you’re looking for speed, the E63 is certainly a strong contender. Powered by a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 engine, the four-wheel drive station wagon produces an impressive 563 horsepower, which becomes 604 horsepower when you step up to the more expensive S model, which has a capped top speed of 286 mph.
Despite all the speed and performance of a supercar, it also offers a good measure of functionality, including 640 liters of luggage space in the rear. It seems like the perfect all-rounder, but it’s not cheap, starting at just over £81,000.
When it comes to motorsport pedigree, there aren’t many brands in stock as well as Porsche. The Panamera Sport Turismo capitalizes on that heritage, especially with the dazzlingly fast Turbo S E-Hybrid. The fastest car in the range, the Turbo S E-Hybrid has a top speed of 320 mph and is powered by a 4.0-litre V8 engine and an electric motor with a combined output of 671 hp.
Practically speaking, petrol models have 487 liters of luggage space, while hybrids have a slightly smaller 418 liters. Prices for base models start around £75,000, with the model holding up 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 276 hp.
It also features a huge 728 liter trunk and comfortable space in the back for three passengers, each six feet tall. 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 can take a beating. The most fuel-efficient diesel model can offer fuel economy in excess of 40 mpg, but the fastest petrol cars can still go over 150 mph.
Prices start under £30,000 and for that, drivers get a vehicle that can do it all. The VRS is available with petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid powertrains and offers an impressive luggage space of 600 to 640 litres. An incredibly versatile artist.
Despite appearing to be a sensible family car, the RS4 Avant is actually one of the best performing models Audi currently has for sale. Powered by a 2.9-litre V6 twin-turbocharged petrol engine, the RS4 produces 444 hp and accelerates from 0-100 km/h in just 3.9 seconds – enough to leave much more powerful cars in the dust.
It delivers all that power without sacrificing usability and still has a 505 liter boot with all seats in place. Prices start at around £60,000, making it nearly double the price of the Focus ST, but there will certainly be those who believe the lovely RS4 is worth every penny.
While the very first M3 Touring, expected later in the year, will soon top the list as the best estate car BMW has to offer, that title is definitely held by the 3-Series Touring for now. The powerful M340i xDrive model is among the very best on offer, producing 369 horsepower from a 3.0-litre petrol engine. It sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in just 4.3 seconds and looks great too – in an understated way.
It also has a 500 liter boot, plenty of space in both the front and rear seats and has a good technical level. There is also a huge range of petrol, diesel and electric powertrains to choose from.