Ah, the humble estate. The family workhorse or businessman’s office away from the office. But just because estates are normally associated with being purely practical, that doesn’t mean they can’t be classy affairs.
Some of the world’s most premium and luxury manufacturers offer high-class wagons, so if you’re after a posher estate, here’s the best in the business.
Mercedes refers to the current E-Class as ‘the most intelligent business saloon’, and looking at the tech and creature comforts available, it’s certainly not all that bold of a claim – so long as you have the right money to spend.
It borrows heavily from its bigger sibling, the S-Class, and that’s noticeable from its cabin, with traits such as the massive cockpit display being lifted straight from the flagship.
Of course, all of these traits transfer over to the estate as well, with the added benefit of superb practicality, with a 640-litre boot that extends to 1,820 litres with the rear seats down – which even surpasses the equivalent machine from estate stalwarts Volvo.
BMW 5 Series Touring
The 5 Series Touring is in direct competition with the estate version of the E-Class, and though the products are similar on paper, it will be what you want from an estate that will drag you one way or the other if these cars end up being at the top of your shortlist.
The 5 Series has to make do with just 570 litres of boot space, which grows to 1,700 with the rear seats down. But, as is so often the case, the BMW is more engaging behind the wheel.
And, while an M5 Touring is yet to emerge for the more power-hungry estate driver, there is a company that will cater for those seeking a faster, more luxurious 5er estate; more on that further down the list.
Audi A6 Avant
Of course, a discussion about any segment where Mercedes and BMW compete is not complete without covering the inevitable rival from Audi.
The A6 Avant is roughly on par with the 5 Series Touring in the practicality stakes, and on the road, it matches up well too. It also benefits from a superb choice of engines, and an impressive suite of tech inherited from the flagship A8.
Ultimately, with all three of the big German marques producing impressive cars, it might be brand loyalty above all else that herds estate buyers towards one over the others.
The flagship estate from Volvo, the V90 is the sole Swede competing against the might of the German marques.
Despite being the latest in a long line of Volvo estates – typically known for swallowing more luggage than almost anything else outside of commercial vehicles – it actually falls short of all its aforementioned German rivals by around 100 litres, both with the rear seats up and down.
It is, however, perhaps the most refined car mentioned thus far, and the T8 plug-in hybrid option grants the V90 a good amount of clout in the economy stakes.
Jaguar XF Sportbrake
Jaguar has been struggling in recent years to really mix it at the top of the premium/luxury segment with the best of Germany. However, look past some of its foibles, such as some questionable build quality and a below average infotainment system, and there’s a lot to like about the XF Sportbrake.
Chief among them is the fact that it’s drop dead gorgeous. It’s not just good looking for an estate, it’s good looking full stop. Add in a bit of national pride and you’ve got yourself a compelling product.
Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
Think Porsche and you probably imagine the 911 or Boxster, but there’s a whole other side to the German firm’s range that focuses on high-end practicality. The Panamera has shed the divisive styling of the first generation and has grown into a muscular, classy estate in Sport Turismo spec.
Inside, Porsche has kept true to its roots, so you get a low-slung seating position, cocooned by the sweeping dashboard. The materials are all super high quality, the on-board technology is top-notch, and you can sling your golf clubs in the boot, too.
It’s not technically an estate, rather a ‘shooting brake’ because it only has two doors. But could you really keep the only practical Ferrari off a list of luxury estates? No, no you can’t.
There are two engines available – a screaming V12 and a turbocharged V8 that’s the more economical option. Both have ludicrous power outputs of more than 600bhp and four-wheel-drive, so you get Ferrari performance you can use all year round.