Best sporty estate cars

Fancy an estate car that offers sports car performance with space for suitcases, flat-pack furniture or a dog or two? Here are our faves

Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
Sep 30, 2021

You might think that a sporty estate car is an oxymoron. A car built for shifting flat-pack furniture, dogs and garden rubbish shouldn’t be fun to drive. That would be like giving a pair of running shoes to your grandma and expecting her to win the 100m sprint.

We can’t give your grandma the pace of Usain Bolt, but we can direct you to a great range of genuinely sporty estate cars. A lower centre of gravity means that estate cars are generally nicer to drive than their SUV counterparts, while some are tuned to give them the performance of a sports car.

We’ve pulled together a list of eight fun-to-drive estate cars, keeping one eye on the purchase price and the other on the running costs. This means you won’t find a super-high-performance Mercedes-AMG on our list, even if the most powerful C-Class and E-Class models are two of the best sporty estate cars you can buy.

Monthly PCP finance deals on our selection of sporty estates start from less than £200 per month, so fill your boots! A fast, desirable and practical estate car needn't be pricey.

Sporty estate cars

1. Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo Estate

Best for sporty styling on a budget

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Monte Carlo is synonymous with glamour, motor racing and casinos, but buying a Skoda Fabia Estate shouldn’t be a gamble. This trim level is named in honour of Skoda’s success at the famous Monte Carlo Rally, with sporty styling to distinguish it from the other models in the range.

The cosmetic overhaul extends to 16-inch alloy wheels in black, front sports seats, tinted windows and an array of Monte Carlo styling upgrades. These include a rear spoiler, rear diffuser, front grille and door mirrors in black, plus a red and black overhaul on the inside.

There are no mechanical changes, but the 1.0-litre TSI petrol engine available with the Fabia Monte Carlo estate delivers a terrific blend of performance and economy. There’s also a 1.4-litre TDI diesel engine for motorway drivers, which offers increased fuel economy.


2. Volkswagen Golf R Estate

Best for hot hatchback thrills

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The Volkswagen Golf R is a high-performance four-wheel-drive alternative to the extremely popular Golf GTI, which makes it one of the best hot hatchbacks you can get. But to borrow a phrase from Chris Tarrant, we don’t want to give you that.

You won’t need to phone a friend to discover the formidable talents of the Golf R Estate. It takes all of the great bits about the hatchback, then adds a whopping 605 litres of luggage capacity, extending to 1,620 litres with the rear seats folded down. We’d argue that it’s better looking than the hatchback, too, but we’d be happy to throw this open to the audience.

The 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine produces a mighty 300hp and is paired with a slick six-speed automatic transmission, with the power harnessed by a clever four-wheel-drive system. Best of all, you don’t need to be a millionaire to afford this sporty estate car.



3. Ford Focus ST Estate

Best for the option of petrol or diesel

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Most sporty estates are powered by a petrol engine, but the Ford Focus ST Estate gives you a choice of power sources. The 2.3-litre 'EcoBoost' petrol engine is perfect for old-school hot hatchback thrills, but you shouldn’t rule out the more economical 2.0-litre 'EcoBlue' diesel - especially if you cover lots of miles every year.

It all comes down to what you want from your performance estate car. The 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine is also found in the Ford Focus RS and Mustang, so it comes from strong breeding. With 280hp on tap, the Focus ST can gallop to 62mph in just 5.8 seconds, before cantering to a top speed of 155mph. That's impressively quick for an estate car.

The Focus ST diesel is a little slower - 0-62mph takes 7.7 seconds and it has a top speed of 137mph - but it should return around 53mpg, meaning that fuel fill ups should be a rare thing. With more low engine speed muscle than the petrol, it’s even better for overtaking, while the diesel engine should deliver excellent economy on a long motorway drive.



4. Mini Clubman John Cooper Works

Best for style and substance

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The Mini Clubman is one of the most characterful small estate cars around. You get the same cheeky look as the regular Mini Hatch, a fantastically retro interior, and a pair of side-hinged doors on the back, in the place of a normal hatchback.

Even the entry-level versions are great to drive, but the stylish high-performance John Cooper Works edition feels more like a performance car. Hardly surprising when you discover that it’s powered by a punchy 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine producing a substantial 306hp.

It’ll accelerate faster than the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST while delivering respectable fuel economy on a long run. Boot space is a respectable 360 litres with the rear seats up, or 1,250 litres with them folded down, so it's not the biggest, but it is still a practical family car. This one’s all show and plenty of go.


5. Skoda Octavia vRS Estate

Best for a large boot and value for money

Used deals Limited stock

The launch of a new Skoda Octavia (pictured above) should mean that it’s possible to bag a great deal on the previous-generation model. It was on sale from 2013 until 2020, so you won’t be short of choice, with the vRS high-performance versions proving to be particularly popular in the UK.

It’s not hard to see why. The Octavia shares much in common with the Volkswagen Golf (as Skoda and VW are sister companies), but the Skoda scores points for its cavernous boot. There’s a total of 1,740 litres available with the rear seats folded down, which is enough for a busy - and expensive - day at a well known Swedish furniture store.

Like the Focus ST, the Octavia vRS is available in two flavours: petrol and diesel. Keen drivers will appreciate the petrol version as it shares its engine with the Volkswagen Golf GTI and makes the Octavia particularly quick and fun to drive. That said, the vRS diesel delivers incredible fuel economy, so it’s the better choice for high-milers, as it offers scope to save plenty of money on fuel bills.



6. Jaguar XF Sportbrake

Best for style and practicality

Used deals Limited stock

You’d expect a company famous for sports cars and sporting saloons to deliver a brilliant estate car. The XF Sportbrake doesn’t disappoint. Whether you choose an entry-level diesel version or a supercharged high-performance petrol variant, the XF is as good to drive as any other estate car you might be considering.

Most drivers opt for the 2.0-litre diesel engine, which is available with a range of power outputs. The least powerful is rear-wheel-drive, so it feels wonderfully balanced when taking corners, while the most powerful is four-wheel-drive for added all-weather reassurance.

The 3.0-litre diesel is hugely powerful, while the 2.0-litre petrol is available in several incarnations and works for those who don't cover many miles. An update in early 2021 delivered improvements across the board while cutting the number of trim levels, so if you can afford one, you might want to go for a newer version.


7. BMW 3 Series Touring

Best for rear-wheel-drive satisfaction

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The BMW 3 Series has always been the go-to compact upmarket saloon and estate car for keen drivers. This latest version, launched in 2019, keeps the 3 Series ahead of rivals like the Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class.

Power is sent to the rear wheels, which means the car offers a more satisfying drive than typical front-wheel-drive alternatives - where the steering wheel can tug in your hands when you accelerate hard. However, many buyers opt for the reassurance of the all-wheel-drive xDrive models. Either way, few cars feel as good to drive on a British country road.

Indeed, the most powerful M340d xDrive sends its hefty power output to all four wheels and is the most potent 3 Series Touring you can get, short of waiting for the forthcoming high-performance M3 Touring. Don’t worry if you can’t stretch to a current-generation 3 Series - the older models are just as satisfying.



8. Audi RS4 Avant

Best for big engine performance

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Fancy pushing the boat out? The Audi RS4 Avant feels like a supercar with a boot, regardless of whether you opt for the old 4.2-litre V8 version - which produces a dramatic, spine-tingling engine note when driven hard - or the current 2.9-litre V6. Either way, you won’t feel short-changed by this sporty estate car.

Indeed, the RS4 Avant with a 2.9-litre V6 is as fast as the old V8 model, with the added bonus of lower running costs. It’ll sprint to 62mph as quickly as a Porsche 911, with room for your dog and the luggage you need for a fortnight in the sun.

Fancy an RS4 with a V8 engine? Prices start from around £30,000, which means supercar levels of performance for the price of a family SUV.


*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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