Combining good looks and performance with practicality, motoring journalist Rob Griffin picks five estate cars worth considering.
Why bother buying an estate car? Surely they’re just ugly, cumbersome versions of smart, desirable saloons?
Are you really willing to compromise on beauty for a bit of extra space that you might not actually need? Couldn’t you just get a roof rack?
The truth is these machines have always polarised opinion. However, the best estates manage to combine the good looks and performance of a saloon with the practicality of a minivan.
We look at five of the best.
BMW 3 Series Touring
What’s not to love about the beautiful BMW 3 Series Touring?
Great handling, head-turning good looks and plenty of room in the back – the key attributes any owner looks for in an estate car.
It manages to combine executive style with estate convenience.
As usual there are various models from which to choose – including sport, modern and luxury versions – depending on your requirements and budget.
You will need around £25,000 upwards in order to get one of these beasts for your driveway.
Skoda Octavia Estate
For those of a certain age the name Skoda will be inextricably linked to the jokes that did the rounds about the manufacturer’s low-cost approach to motoring.
However, anyone with sense needs to look past the stigma and focus on the cars now bearing the name.
With a whopping 1,740 litres of space once the rear seats are folded down, it’s easy to see why motoring bible Auto Express named this car "best estate" in its 2013 New Car Awards.
The publication stated it offered "peerless practicality, huge value for money and attractive lines".
Mazda 6 Tourer
This Japanese manufacturer has been responsible some remarkable machines over the years and the Mazda 6 Tourer is right up there with the best produced.
It’s a simply beautiful looking machine that comes very well equipped.
The overall styling is similar to the BMW – which is no bad thing – while the car also benefits from the company’s much trumpeted SKYActiv technology which helps ensure its engines are powerful and economical.
Expect to pay upwards of £22,000.
Mercedes E-Class Estate
No list of great estates would be complete without mention of Mercedes and this is a stunning example.
So good, in fact, that Top Gear has branded it "the most practical and best thought-out estate of all". Praise indeed.
Along with its tough styling and top quality finishing, it also has a substantial 1,950 litre load capacity.
Of course, such a machine doesn’t come cheap – expect to pay at least £35,000 – but in return you’ll get an awful lot of car for your money.
Hyundai i40 Tourer
For those wanting a mid-sized estate car the Hyundai i40 Tourer, with its impressive boot space of up to 1,719 litres is certainly worth considering.
Okay, the interior quality will not be to the standard of a Mercedes but it still does the job admirably.
Various versions of the i40 are available – Active, Style Premium and Premium SE – ranging in price from just under £20,000 to slightly over £27,000.
Useful details include Bluetooth technology and steering wheel audio/phone controls fitted as standard.