16 January 2014 by James Taylor, Staff Writer

  • There are high hopes for the new Peugeot 308 SW
  • It's not exciting, but the Toyota Auris Touring Sports is a very worthy car
  • Practicality is what the Honda Civic Tourer is all about, with even the carpet fibres in the boot designed to be easy to clean
  • The Dacia Logan MCV - it may be a little slow, noisy and sparse on kit but it's fantastic value
  • An attractive interior, large boot and long warranty make the Kia Ceed Sportswagon worth a look
  • The SEAT Leon ST is longer and more spacious but only slightly heavier than the regular Leon hatchback
  • Five estate cars with manageable dimensions
  • All offer plenty of space and low running costs
  • The cheapest in the list costs less than £7,000

Estate cars don’t need to be bulky land yachts. If you’re after a station wagon that combines useful luggage space with a more compact footprint and wallet-friendly running costs then there are some excellent choices out there.

Below we’ve picked our top five small-to-medium sized estate cars (plus an extra one that’s coming soon), that can lug loads with the best of them but fit in your garage without difficulty.

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Like the SEAT Leon hatchback, the ST (Sport Tourer) estate version is a class act. It has an excellent range of engines, from a super-frugal EcoMotive diesel which emits just 87g/km of CO2 to a fiery 177bhp petrol. It’s also available with the smooth and fast-shifting DSG automatic gearbox.

Although it’s nearly a foot longer than the hatchback it’s only 45kg heavier and offers an extra 207 litres of boot space

You might also want to consider the Leon's sister car, the Volkswagen Golf Estate. The SEAT brand is owned by the Volkswagen Group and both cars are very similar under the skin. The Golf offers all the best bits of the Leon ST package together with excellent residual values and a respected badge - the only downside is that it's more expensive.

Find out more in our full SEAT Leon ST review.

New price range: £16,675 - £25,705
Average fuel economy: 47.1 - 57.6mpg
CO2 emissions: 87 - 137g/km
Boot volume: 587 litres (seats up), 1,470 litres (seats down)
Overall length: 4,535mm

Click here to view the latest SEAT Leon ST cars for sale

Honda Civic Tourer

 Honda Civic Tourer

The Honda Civic estate’s boot really is huge, and if you don’t spec a spare wheel then it also features a deep well underneath the floor big enough for two decent-sized suitcases. Another handy feature is that the loading lip is very low and there’s no step between it and the boot floor.

Top versions have clever adaptive suspension at the rear that can compensate for heavy loads in the boot for a more comfortable ride.

The engine range is a straightforward choice between one petrol and one diesel, the latter with excellent fuel economy and CO2 emissions.

Apart from styling that doesn’t appeal to everyone, its main weakness is that it’s a bit on the expensive side to buy new.

More information here in our full Honda Civic Tourer review.

New price range: £20,265 - £27,685
Average fuel economy: 45.6 - 74.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 99 - 149g/km
Boot volume: 624 litres (seats up), 1,668 litres (seats down)
Overall length: 4,535mm 

Click here to view the latest Honda Civic Tourer cars for sale

Kia Ceed Sportswagon

Kia Ceed Sportswagon

The Sportswagon has practicality well covered – boot space is very generous, the rear seats fold completely flat and a retractable load cover is standard fit.

All versions come with roof rails, a 12V socket and underfloor storage sections in the boot plus a space-saver spare wheel.

Add to that a pleasant, well put-together interior and Kia’s seven-year warranty and it’s a strong package. Pity it’s so dull to drive.

For more information check out our full Kia Ceed Sportswagon review.

New price range: £16,895 - £24,795
Average fuel economy: 50.4 - 67.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 109 - 149g/km
Boot volume: 528 litres (seats up), 1,642 litres (seats down)
Overall length: 4,505mm

Click here to view the latest Kia Ceed Sportswagon cars for sale

Toyota Auris Touring Sports

Toyota Auris Touring Sports estate

Despite the name, there’s nothing remotely sporty about the estate version of the Toyota Auris. Its boot is bigger than its character, but it’s well-built, packed with kit and affordable to run.

Alongside regular petrol and diesel variants there’s also a petrol-electric hybrid version with planet-friendly CO2 emissions figures.

That said, the hybrid’s more expensive to buy than other versions and when we road tested it in Excel trim we found it returned around 50mpg during normal driving rather than the quoted 70mpg.

Read all about it in our full Toyota Auris Touring Sports review.

New price range: £15,795 - £25,095
Average fuel economy: 46 - 76.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 85 - 143g/km
Boot volume: 530 litres (seats up), 1,658 litres (seats down)
Overall length: 4560mm

Click here to view the latest Toyota Auris Touring Sports cars for sale

Dacia Logan MCV

Dacia Logan MCV

Here’s a wild-card budget choice. Prices for the Dacia Logan MCV (which stands for Max Capacity Vehicle) start from an amazing £6,995 at the time of writing, making it the cheapest estate car you can buy in the UK today.

Dacia is a budget brand owned by Renault and as such the Logan borrows its engines and various other components from models in the French company’s range.

It’s an honest, likeable car that’s spacious and practical but, as you’d expect of a car priced at this level, it’s very basic.

Although it’s a lot of car for the money, the question is, would you have a nicer time in a second-hand version of a more well-equipped car for the same price?

Find out all about the car in our full Dacia Logan MCV review.

New price range: £6,995 - £10,795
Average fuel economy: 48.7 – 74.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 99 - 135g/km
Boot volume: 573 litres (seats up), 1,518 litres (seats down)
Overall length: 4,492mm

Click here to view the latest Dacia Logan MCV cars for sale

Coming soon…

Peugeot 308 SW

Peugeot 308 SW

Joining the small estate car party later in 2014 is the SW (Station Wagon) version of the new Peugeot 308.

We’ve been impressed with the new 308 hatchback, which offers an elegant, minimalist interior, a comfortable ride and competitive equipment levels for its price.

The estate version can boast a boot larger than all the other cars in this list when the rear seats are up and a totally flat floor when they’re folded. There’ll also be a low-emissions BlueHDi diesel variant.

Worth waiting for? We’ll find out when we get behind the wheel to review the car in spring.

Read more in our Peugeot 308 SW preview.

New price range: TBC
Average fuel economy: TBC
CO2 emissions: From 85g/km
Boot volume: 660 litres (seats up)
Overall length: 4,580mm

After something smaller? Check out our pick of the top five petrol-powered hatchbacks.