Top six most economical estates of 2014

  • We pick the six most economical estates available
  • All emit less than 90g/km of CO2 meaning free car tax
  • Could one of these be your next frugal family car?

If you need a capacious family car with a flexible load-space it doesn’t mean you necessarily want a 4x4 or a people carrier.

Marrying the driving characteristics of a family hatch with an even bigger boot, the humble estate car remains a firm favourite.

Many have low P11D values but they don’t necessarily have the most efficient engines or levels of standard equipment that company car drivers expect these days.

To save you time browsing endless brochures and websites and trudging around showrooms, we’ve narrowed down the six most fuel-efficient estate cars currently available. All of them enjoy free VED car tax by virtue of being well under the 100g/km of CO2 ceiling too.

Could one of these cost-effective load-luggers be your next company car?

1. Toyota Auris Touring Sports

Not only is the Auris Touring Sports a particularly striking-looking estate, it’s also the only one in the top six with a petrol engine. Not only that, there’s an electric motor with a battery pack too, making the Toyota the only hybrid estate car currently on sale.

This means it’s not only very easy to drive with its standard CVT automatic gearbox, it’s very quiet too. Yet its practicality as an estate remains intact – those angular lines ensure it has the largest boot space with the rear seats folded down.

We’d go for the Icon trim which includes most of the features you’ll need – there’s a more generously-appointed Excel version but it loses out in terms of fuel efficiency.

We recommend: 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid Icon

Fuel economy: 76mpg

CO2 emissions: 85g/km

Boot space: 530-1,658 litres

Monthly cost (20 percent rate payer): £36

2. SEAT Leon ST

Following on from SEAT’s stylish Leon hatchback range is the all-new estate version, called ST, which went on sale at the start of 2014. It’s an interesting design with lots of sharp, angular creases topped and tailed with fashionable and functional LED lights.

Despite that style-focus, it’s an eminently practical family estate, with space for five in its comfortable cabin and a large, practically-shaped boot too.

Under the bonnet lies a very efficient 1.6-litre diesel, with SEAT’s Ecomotive makeover ensuring further fuel efficiency with improved aerodynamics. In SE trim, the price is reasonable too.

We recommend: 1.6 TDI Ecomotive SE

Fuel economy: 85mpg

CO2 emissions: 87g/km

Boot space: 587-1,470 litres

Monthly cost (20 percent rate payer): £44

3. Volkswagen Golf

The latest Golf is a handsome car in estate guise but compared to its Leon ST sister, with which it shares much of its underpinnings and mechanical components, it’s a little less distinctive.

What the Golf loses in style points, it more than makes up for in terms of practicality, with a boot that’s larger than its SEAT equivalent and the biggest here with the rear seats in use.

Other efficient Golf diesels are available but the BlueMotion is engineered to require the least fuel with its aerodynamic body fittings.

You’ll pay a premium for the Volkswagen name too but arguably the interior’s a nicer place to spend time in, and come re-sale time it should retain more of its value than the SEAT too.

We recommend: 1.6 TDI BlueMotion

Fuel economy: 85mpg

CO2 emissions: 87g/km

Boot space: 605-1,620 litres

Monthly cost (20 percent rate payer): £48

4. Ford Focus

Ford’s Focus is a common sight on Britain’s roads but the estate version often loses out in popularity to the larger, thirstier Mondeo.

Nevertheless the Focus will keep enthusiastic drivers entertained, despite the additional weight of the extended rear body work and despite the eco-friendly nature of the engine, it offers strong low-down torque for acceleration.

It’s not as practical as newer competition either nor is Edge specification the most generous either but it’s usefully cheaper than the cars mentioned above, so you could specify a few options to get the equipment you want.

We recommend: 1.6 TDCi 105PS ECOnetic Edge

Fuel economy: 83mpg

CO2 emissions: 88g/km

Boot space: 476-1,502 litres

Monthly cost (20 percent rate payer): £42

5. Skoda Fabia

Although the Fabia is the smallest estate in this top six it doesn’t have the smallest boot when all the seats are in use. Fold them down though and the bodywork’s diminutive dimensions are more obvious.

Being a smaller car the Fabia’s the cheapest here, and by some margin too, while it also benefits from being able to run with a smaller engine – a three-cylinder 1.2-litre diesel. It’s a punchy little unit that delivers ample power for the Fabia while the Greenline treatments ensures it’s efficient.

It’s worth noting that a Greeline version of the larger Octavia, very closely related to the Leon ST and Golf estate isn’t far away either.

We recommend: 1.2 TDI CR Greenline II

Fuel economy: 83mpg

CO2 emissions: 88g/km

Boot space: 505-1,485 litres

Monthly cost (20 percent rate payer): £31

6. Renault Megane Sport Tourer

The recently facelifted Megane family now wears Renault’s latest corporate face but the spacious rear end of the car remains as it was. This isn’t a bad thing for while it isn’t the most spacious here, it’s nevertheless a large, uncluttered load bay maximising practicality.

It’s a comfortable but not especially exciting place to be, with the car’s set-up focused on unruffled transportation rather than enthusing keen drivers.

Expression+ trim isn’t the most generous in the range but the engine’s a well-regarded, economical unit that’s also found under the bonnets of Dacias and Mercedes-Benzes.

We recommend: 1.5 Energy dCi 110 Expression+

Fuel economy: 80mpg

CO2 emissions: 90g/km

Boot space: 524-1,600 litres

Monthly cost (20 percent rate payer): £42