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Best-in-class estate cars

  • We pick our favourite load-lugger wagons
  • Monthly tax costs, engine options and equipment grades explained
  • Will a model from our list be your next company car?

Time was the estate car was seen as a pure workhorse, a vehicle that sat between a saloon and a van used to move tools, hay bales or rubbish around from A to B and sometimes back to A again.

Things change though, and estates are rarely seen as a poor relation anymore – in fact many buyers view them with a premium (price and image) in comparison to their brand brethren.

Manufacturers have responded to demand by offering a variety of different estate-shaped options. Now you can choose between small or large, petrol or diesel, fast or slow, lifestyle or load-lugger wagons for the perfect fit for your life. Here we highlight our best-in-class estates to save you some time digging down through the research. 

Small Estate - Skoda Fabia Estate

 

Skoda Fabia Estate

When it comes to shifting stuff with a small estate, the Skoda Fabia is king – with the seats in place this junior Skoda can carry up to 480 litres of luggage. Drop the 60:40 split rear bench and that increases by 1,000 litres – all in a car that is less than 4.3m metres long.

There’s a Greenline edition available to keep emissions and company car tax down as well, the 1.2-litre diesel emitting just 88g/km and returning up to 83mpg. Equipment isn’t too shabby either considering the low P11d price with 15-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, manual air-con and black roof rails available as standard.

P11d: £14,835

Monthly 20 percent tax payer BIK*: £34.62

Boot size: 480/1,480-litres

Parkers star rating: Four stars

Family Estate - Peugeot 308 SW

Peugeot's 308 SW

Considering this is based on a regular sized family-hatchback, the 660-litre figure for the boot space with the seats in place is a phenomenal number, as is the 1,715-litre space with the seats folded. The good news is the 308 isn’t a one-trick pony either, with a range of efficient engines, plenty of standard kit and distinctive design inside and out.

Those looking to keep costs low will do well to look at the 1.6 BlueHDi Active variant, which emits just 85g/km and returns up to 88mpg. We would opt for the Active trim as it offers a good balance of kit for the money with sat-nav, 9.7-inch colour touchscreen, cruise control, dual-zone air-con, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth, DAB Radio and LED daytime running lights available as standard.

P11d: £20,140

Monthly 20 percent tax payer BIK*: £46.99

Boot size: 660/1,715-litres

Parkers star rating: 4.5 stars

Large Estate - Skoda Superb Estate

Skoda's Superb Estate

The second Skoda estate to make this list, the Superb isn’t only great at carrying large loads, but it’s ideal for passengers too – the long wheelbase chassis offering legroom not bettered by dedicated luxury limos. It’s also incredibly well-built, with plenty of standard kit and quality fittings.

You’ll need the Greenline edition again to keep your fleet manager happy, but this can be had in a variety of trim levels – including company car specific SE Business or top-spec Elegance models. The 1.6-litre diesel engine emits 113g/km of CO2, and can only achieve 65mpg, but then it is nearly five-metres long. The SE Business trim hosts plenty of must-have equipment for business drivers including cruise control, climate control, DAB Radio, eight speakers, Bluetooth, rear parking sensors and touchscreen sat-nav. 

P11d: £21,850

Monthly 20 percent tax payer BIK*: £65.55

Boot size: 633/1,865-litres

Parkers star rating: 4.5 stars

Premium Estate - BMW 3-Series Touring

BMW's 3-Series Touring

Fully deserving of its five-star status, the BMW 3 Series Touring is not only a decent estate but a fine automobile on the whole. Certainly there are few other wagons that are as fun to drive.The 320d Efficient Dynamics version manages to be incredibly efficient as well; CO2 emissions are just 112g/km and promised economy tops 65.7mpg, and the Business edition adds things like sat-nav to the spec. There are larger wagons out there, but for most the 495-litre load space will be enough, and if not the 40/20/40 split fold seat allows you to take advantage of up to 1,500-litres.

P11D: £31,420

Monthly 40 percent tax payer BIK*: £188.52

Boot size: 495/1,500-litres

Parkers rating: 5 stars

Lifestyle Estate - Mercedes Benz CLS Shooting Brake

Mercedes-Benz' CLS Shooting Brake

The Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake is actually based on the firm’s four-door CLS Coupe, so its estate intentions aren’t quite its highlight. What is are those gorgeous sleek, sweeping and dramatic looks – there’s no other lifestyle estate quite as stylish as this.

Ignore the 590-litre load space with the seats in place (expandable to 1,550 litres with the seats folded) and revel instead in the new CLS 220 BlueTEC diesel that has just been released. Emissions are down to a reasonable 132g/km and economy up to 56mpg, though it does do without the excellent new nine-speed automatic gearbox found in the CLS 350 BlueTEC. 

P11D: £48,080

Monthly 40 percent tax payer BIK*: £352.59

Boot size: 590/1,550-litres

Parkers rating: 4.5 stars

4x4 Estate - Audi A6 Allroad

Audi's A6 Allroad

It’s no surprise to find an Audi in the 4x4 category; the firm virtually invented the 4x4 wagon but this allroad A6 is a little different – it sits on a raised ride height compared to the regular A6 Avant. Offering the best of both worlds between an estate and go-anywhere 4x4 the A6 Allroad is also a decent load-lugger with a 565-litre loadspace expandable to 1,680-litres.

There are few cabins as cleanly designed or expertly put together either, and while only top-level managers will be able to afford one the 159g/km of CO2 from the 201bhp 3.0-litre diesel example isn’t actually that bad – though the 46mpg isn’t brilliant, it’s a small price to pay for such an all-rounder. 

P11D: £43,575

Monthly 40 percent tax payer BIK*: £392.18

Boot size: 565/1,680-litres

Parkers rating: 4 stars

 

*Monthly costs are based on the 2014/15 tax year