Best second-hand diesel estate car

The best second-hand diesel estate cars offer substantial boot space, strong fuel economy and, if you choose wisely, great value too

Joe Holding
Nov 19, 2021

If you need a big, practical car that provides plenty of space for a growing family, or you’re after the kind of vehicle that will take a caravanning holiday in its stride, then the best second-hand diesel estate cars will suit you down to the ground.

SUVs have proved incredibly popular over the past few years and estate cars are no longer the go-to choice for people who want a bit more space. However, many SUVs are more expensive than estate car equivalents, meaning that the best estate cars on the market still have a lot to offer - especially if value is important to you.

This is especially true when that estate car is powered by a diesel engine. Yes, diesel’s reputation has taken a hit in recent times, but while there are legitimate concerns about the emissions they produce, the fact is that diesel estate cars still make perfect sense for a lot of people.

Firstly there’s the performance; diesels typically deliver the kind of low engine speed muscle that makes them ideal for towing (whether it be a trailer or something else) while still being quick enough to cope with everyday driving.

Then there’s the fuel economy to consider; diesels tend to be more efficient than equivalent petrol engines, meaning your running costs will be lower in the long run.

Still need convincing? Our list of the best second-hand diesel estate cars proves that you don't have to compromise on refinement, luxury or sportiness, especially when you’ve seen the incredible value these machines can offer on BuyaCar.

Used diesel estate car deals

1. Mazda 6 Tourer

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The 2.2-litre diesel engine used in the Mazda 6 Tourer is one of our favourites of any estate car. In its most powerful form it provides 175hp, enough power for useful performance around town and on the motorway, with plenty of punch at low engine speeds, while delivering excellent fuel economy at the same time. It is very smooth and quiet on the go, too, making it an excellent all-rounder.

This version of the Mazda 6 Tourer first went on sale in 2013, but it has received two updates in that time: the first in 2015, and another in 2018, with the 2.2-litre diesel now producing 184hp and achieving 60mpg, on paper at least. This compares to 42.2mpg for the most powerful petrol model, so the difference is quite stark. Surprisingly, it's the diesel that offers much greater performance, too, effortlessly picking up speed when you accelerate, while you would need to work the petrol engine much harder in comparison.

Meanwhile, the boot measures 522 litres (or 1,664 litres with the rear seats folded down) and you’ll feel very comfortable thanks to a smooth ride and that refined diesel engine. If there’s one shortcoming, it’s the media system, which already feels a little dated compared to what other carmakers are producing.


2. Skoda Superb Estate

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Few estate cars are more practical than the Skoda Superb Estate. Launched in 2015, the current model has an enormous, 660-litre boot, with capacity rising to 1,950 litres with the rear seats folded down. The former setup is spacious enough for suitcases and more, while the latter will easily swallow even larger items when the need arises. Inside there’s room for your passengers to stretch out, and there are plenty of storage compartments to help keep things tidy.

If you’re after maximum on-paper fuel economy, the plug-in hybrid version of the Superb (which arrived in 2019) is the one to go for. However, if you do lots of longer journeys, a diesel could prove far more economical and the 2.0-litre 'TDI' diesel is a good option. The least powerful 150hp version will manage up to 56.5mpg, while the top-of-the-range unit manages up to 51.4mpg but with 190hp on tap. This one’s also great for towing, with a substantial limit of 2,200kg.

As standard, even the most basic cars get LED headlights and taillights, 16-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, a digital radio, and an eight-inch touchscreen media system with smartphone connectivity via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.


3. Mercedes E-Class Estate

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Just because an estate car is big and practical doesn’t mean it can’t also be sophisticated. As you’d expect, the Mercedes E-Class does justice to its posh badge with a stunning interior design that’s bound to make every journey feel luxurious. There’s plenty of kit to make life easy too, including sat-nav, a reversing camera and a pair of 12.3-inch screens in many versions; leather seats and mood lighting are included too.

The 2.0-litre diesel engine in the E220d model is by far the most popular, with its 194hp delivering strong acceleration and even stronger fuel economy. You can get more powerful versions of the same engine if you prefer, while the muscular E350d and E400d 4Matic editions use a larger and stronger 3.0-litre diesel engine, but these do sacrifice some fuel economy.

The plug-in hybrid E300de - which is part diesel, part electric - is well worth a look too if you fancy making the most of some emission-free electric driving, but it's less well suited to long-distance journeys.


4. BMW 3 Series Touring

BMW 3 Series Touring front
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The BMW 3 Series is one of the best saloons to drive, so it stands to reason that the Touring estate version should also be one of the most exciting from the driver’s seat. Happily, it is: BMW has tweaked the body of the car and suspension to cope with the additional weight, but the 3 Series Touring is still incredibly responsive when you turn the wheel, even if the ride is a little firm.

There are a handful of diesel options but the one we’d go for is the 320d, which produces 190hp and achieves 0-62mph in just over seven seconds. Fuel economy tops out at 61.4mpg too, so a full tank will take you a long way. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard on the 320d, although a number of used models will come with BMW’s automatic transmission instead, which makes the drive more relaxing.

A boot capacity of 500 litres isn’t groundbreaking but is still pretty useful. The quality of the interior is very high indeed, and BMW has one of the best touchscreen media systems of any car manufacturer right now.


5. Volkswagen Passat Estate

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The Volkswagen Passat Estate is closely related to the Skoda Superb Estate above, which means that both cars share very similar characteristics. The size of the boot is more or less the same, the on-board technology is identical, the engine lineup is shared, while the feel of the car on the road is - unsurprisingly - broadly similar. And as there’s so little to choose between them, both are excellent choices as estate cars go.

The 2.0-litre 'TDI' diesel versions are the most popular choice, while it’s worth staying away from the 1.6-litre TDI if you can because it lacks power, especially when the car is full with passengers and luggage. Those 2.0-litre models producing 150hp offer plenty of strong low-speed performance and manage up to 70mpg, so there's a good balance between power and fuel economy.

What really sets the Passat apart from the Superb is its style, with the exterior and interior design aimed at those who want a slightly more business-like feel, though the quality level is very high, making the Passat feel like a more upmarket product.


6. Peugeot 308 SW

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Peugeots tend to lose value quite quickly when new, which is bad news for the first owner but great news for those picking up a used model, as it means they’re excellent choices on the second-hand market. The Peugeot 308 SW estate has plenty going for it as a used model too, with a humongous boot and a comfortable ride just a couple of its highlights.

The boot is a mighty 660 litres, a figure only the Skoda Superb Estate can really match with this type of car. With the back seats down this figure rises to 1,775 litres, and the low loading lip makes it easy to get large items into the back. It's worth noting, though, that the rear seats themselves don’t offer quite as much space for passengers, so the 308 SW isn’t as well suited to long-distance journeys with a number of passengers as other models in this regard.

The 2.0-litre 'BlueHDI' diesel is the one to choose for maximum pulling power, and you should be able to extract something like 50mpg from it. However, if budget is an issue, then the cheaper, more frugal 1.5-litre diesel engine still offers enough power most of the time.


*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.


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