Good estate cars

A good estate can be all the car you'd ever need, offering practicality, value and desirability - if you pick wisely. See our choices below

James Wilson
Jan 18, 2021

Good estate cars have been a popular choice with British drivers for decades. It isn’t hard to see why when considering the recipe for most estate cars. Step 1: find a standard hatchback or saloon which is already practical, spacious, comfortable and good to drive in most cases. Step 2: make the boot huge - normally by making the car longer and/or squaring off the end of the car to enable you to load bigger items into the boot.

While the ingredients of an estate car are relatively simple, there are many different flavours - some of which prioritise practicality, others which major on style and yet more that offer most of the thrills of a sports car. Some, such as the Skoda Octavia, are super practical and make light work of carrying lots of passengers of heavy, bulky loads, with others such as the Seat Leon Cupra are mind-blowingly fast and handle corners with surprising agility.

Others, meanwhile, stand out for their strong reliability records, low-emission engines and/or tough, off-roader inspired styling. Regardless of the type of estate, each model listed below had to be readily available second-hand for less than £10,000 to £25,000, which for those paying with PCP finance, typically equates to around £140 to £325 per month.

The chosen few had to also perform strongly across the board with regards to value, practicality and their driving experience - with most offering particularly strong comfort levels and a couple offering a slightly more sporty feel. So without further ado, read on for the good estate cars that offer the most for the money.

Good estate cars

1. Toyota Corolla Touring Sport

Good estate car for fuel efficiency

Our pick Toyota Corolla Touring Sport Icon Tech
Used deals from £20,495
Monthly finance from £293*

While the Toyota Corolla Touring Sport is definitely stylish and a high-quality product that should offer strong reliability, this isn't what sets it apart from many of its rivals. Its unique selling point is clever hybrid technology, which helps to boost fuel economy and reduce emissions.

The Corolla is what is referred to as a ‘conventional hybrid’, meaning it has a small battery pack and electric motor that give the engine a helping hand rather than take over for any great length of time. The car also cannot be plugged in to charge, instead energy is recovered when braking, meaning less electric range and worse fuel economy than a plug-in hybrid, but also a lower price and no need to remember to plug the car in.

The Corolla comes with two hybrid options - one produces 120hp and the other 180hp. There was a 1.2-litre petrol non-hybrid offered briefly, so if you'd rather a cheaper version and don't cover many miles, this could be worth a look. Boot space in all models is good with 581 litres of cargo space available - only 27 litres behind the particularly practical Ford Focus Estate. Standard equipment levels are good, including alloy wheels, an electronic handbrake and air-conditioning across the Corolla range, though some rivals include more.

TOYOTA COROLLA BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Peugeot 508 SW

Good estate car for the style-conscious

Our pick Peugeot 508 SW GT Line
Used deals from £17,807
Monthly finance from £259*

While not the biggest-booted estate car, the latest Peugeot 508 Station Wagon, or SW for short, surely is one of the most striking. On UK roads the 508 SW is a comfortable and refined car to drive, prioritising comfort over outright sportiness. What is surprising, though, is that the French estate manages this while offering a decent driving experience. Perhaps the best-suited engine and gearbox combination to the 508 SW is an automatic gearbox with the least powerful diesel engine, which offers a pleasant drive and strong fuel economy.

While the outside of the 508 SW is striking, the interior is even more distinctive. It features very few buttons - with most functions controlled through the touchscreen media system - and a driver’s display that you look at over a very small steering wheel rather than through a larger one, as is the case with most other cars. Well equipped ‘GT Line’ models are one of the better choices of trim level, coming with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality, a reversing camera, LED lights and wireless phone charging for compatible phones.

PEUGEOT 508 BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Ford Focus Active

Good estate car for rugged looks

Our pick Ford Focus Active
Used deals from £16,000
Monthly finance from £219*

The Ford Focus Active Estate is basically a more rugged looking Focus Estate. It achieves this thanks to a slighting lifted ride height and plastic cladding on the bottom edges of the bodywork. Ford is not alone in giving its normal cars the Bear Grylls treatment, as ever since UK motorists started flocking to off-road style SUVs, many carmakers have been trying to give their normal models a 4x4 look to help boost sales.

Despite the altered suspension - with higher suspension typically meaning more roll around corners and worse roadholding - Active versions of the Focus Estate are still great to drive. Those hoping for genuine off-road ability will need to look elsewhere, though, as there is no four-wheel drive option with this version of the Focus. Still, equipment levels are good with automatic lights and wipers, an automatically dimming rear-view mirror and cruise control all standard.

While four-wheel drive may not be available, Focus Active byers can choose between petrol, diesel and mild hybrid engines (those that feature a small electric motor to help boost fuel economy slightly, but at a lower price point that conventional hybrids or plug-in hybrids that feature larger batteries that need to be manually charged for the best economy.

FORD FOCUS ACTIVE BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Seat Leon ST

Good estate car for performance

Our pick Seat Leon Cupra ST
Used deals Limited stock

Not all estates are merely comfortable, practical cars - some are amongst the fastest machines on the road, while still offering plenty of load space. One such example is the Seat Leon Cupra ST estate. High-performance Cupra versions of the Leon have been for a number of years, so there numerous subtly different models available.

All versions of the Cupra ST offer around 280hp-300hp. Manual gearboxes are available on older models but automatics are more common in general. Similarly, four-wheel drive models tend to be slightly more commonplace than two-wheel drive versions. Thankfully, the four-wheel drive system and slick automatic gearbox suit the Leon, giving it great traction when accelerating and the automatic gearbox being both quick and smooth to change gear when you're driving quickly and barely noticeable when you're cruising.

Yes, running costs are going to be higher than many on this list, though you can get a less powerful version if economy is more important to you than performance. Still, whichever version you choose, the Leon’s boot is large, offering 587 litres of space, which is pretty good compared to rivals. All in all, as a rapid and decently practical estate, the Leon Cupra ST takes some beating and includes most of the kit you'd want, with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, air-conditioning and an easy-to-use touchscreen media system as standard.

SEAT LEON ST BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Skoda Octavia Estate

Good estate car for comfort

Our pick Skoda Octavia Estate SE
Used deals from £12,000
Monthly finance from £223*

Skoda is the manufacturer to beat when it comes to practical everyday cars that don’t cost an arm and a leg. One of its best models is the previous generation Octavia, specifically Estate versions. Proof in the pudding is that the Octavia Estate comes with 610 litres of boot space which is more than most of its rivals. As Skoda is part of the same conglomerate as Volkswagen, the Octavia features a range of impressive petrol and diesel engines, plus automatic and manual gearboxes. There are four-wheel drive models, too.

Skoda refreshed its Octavia in 2017 but even before then, the Czech brand offered a wide variety of models to choose from. They start from affordable but basic ‘S’ models which only come with necessities such as Bluetooth and air-conditioning and go all the way up to luxurious Laurin and Klement versions which feature adaptive cruise control, heated front seats and park assist, which allows the car to control various aspects of driving - such as steering - for you, to make parking much simpler.

SKODA OCTAVIA ESTATE BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Mini Clubman

Good estate car for fun

Our pick Mini Clubman Cooper S (Sport)
Used deals from £13,225
Monthly finance from £219*

In present company the Mini Clubman would appear to be a touch lacking in the space department, and it's similar in size to smaller hatchback versions of several of the estates in our lineup (such as the Seat Leon and Ford Focus), with its boot measuing in at 360 litres. However, if you want a car that is reasonably practical but majors on fun, the Mini's smaller size adds to that, as it's more nimble and engaging to drive than most larger estates.

More than this, the Clubman offers a high-quality and stylish interior that matches the car's charming looks and fun driving experience. Not all Clubmans are born equal, though, and it is sporty Cooper S models that bring the best mix of fun and relatively affordable running costs. There is a diesel Cooper SD version, too, for better fuel economy while maintaining a decent amount of power.

The Clubman was revamped in 2019 and part of the changes brought in Union Jack-styled rear lights. Whether this is a plus or a minus is very much down to your personal taste. Prior to the revamp, Mini’s range worked a little differently to those of most cars - largely revolving around you choosing the engine you want and then picking from many optional packs to get the equipment you're after, rather than having a number of specification levels on offer with specific equipment included.

Post revamp things were a little more straight forward with Classic, Sport and Exclusive specifications being introduced, with the middle option being our recommendation. If you're looking at an older car, it's worth thinking about which equipment is important to you and then sussing out which optional equipment has been added to any specific cars you're considering, so you can understand which offers you the best value. Automatic and four-wheel drive versions are available, too.

MINI CLUBMAN BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Renault Megane Sport Tourer

Good estate car for affordability

Our pick Renault Megane Sport Tourer Play
Used deals from £10,860
Monthly finance from £174*

The previous-generation Renault Megane was a bit forgettable. The latest version, launched in 2015, however, is much more distinctive and desirable. It is stylish, well equipped and feels much higher quality. The boot is relatively large, big enough to swallow 580 litres of luggage - which is only 30 litres behind the Skoda Octavia, which offers the biggest boot in a car of this type. Go for a diesel model and claimed fuel economy and CO2 emissions are very impressive, whether you go for a manual or automatic gearbox.

Petrol models are good, too, and although these are less economical, they are typically cheaper to purchase, so may well prove cheaper for you overall, if you don't chalk up tens of thousands of miles every year. As for standard specification, Renault has updated its trim levels twice since 2015.

For Meganes made before 2018, Dynamique models are one of the better options, while the pick of the range for models registered between 2018 and late 2020 is entry-level Play spec. In August 2020 Renault not only changed the trim names again but also update the Megane’s styling. For these newer models, Iconic spec is the one to go for.

RENAULT MEGANE SPORT TOURER BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Mazda 6 Tourer

Good estate car for reliability

Our pick Mazda 6 Tourer SE
Used deals from £19,832
Monthly finance from £308*

Mazda seems to quietly be winning the hearts of many motorists thanks to its tendency to make high-quality cars that are great to drive and are often quite economical - whether powered by petrol or diesel. Plus, standard equipment levels are generally good and prices are affordable. Happily, all of this holds true for the Mazda 6 Tourer, although it is well behind the largest estate models when it comes to absolute cargo carrying ability - the Skoda Superb offers 660 litres of boot space whereas the Mazda makes do with 522 litres.

Boot space is not the be-all and end-all, though - and the Mazda's boot is still pretty large - but for some, reliability is more important and it is here the 6 shines. In the latest Auto Express Driver Power ownership survey (which involves real-world motorists rating their cars), the Mazda 6 was the highest-rated car for reliability in its class.

It was actually one of three Mazdas to appear in the top 20 most reliable cars. On top of this, the 6 comes with a good choice of engines and gearboxes. We'd recommend a diesel version with the particularly slick manual gearbox, as the 6's diesel motors are surprisingly smooth and punchy, offering good refinement and plenty of punch from low engine speeds.  

MAZDA 6 TOURER BUYERS' GUIDE

*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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