Audi A4 Avant/Allroad
Audi’s new A4 Avant is much sharper and better looking car over all that the car it replaces and still remains impressively versatile. Powering the range is six engine variants – two petrol and four diesel, with outputs ranging between 150bhp and 272bhp. Inside, it is very elegant and minimal with excellent quality throughout. As with the saloon the exterior might look familiar but the new A4 Avant is sleeker, lighter and cleverer than before. If you want something a little more SUVish opt for the tougher All Road version that is 37mm higher off the ground but still offers the same space as the Estate. Prices start from €37,350 for the Avant and €52,000 for the All Road
Audi A6 Avant / Audi A6 Allroad
Recently face lifted, you will struggle to spot the differences with the previous model but they do include LED and optional MATRIX LED lighting to the front and rear of the range and inside there is an updated multimedia system. Similar to the saloon there is a choice of seven engines, two petrol and five diesel units with power outputs ranging from 150bhp to 320bhp but it is the new Ultra models that provide the best blend of performance and efficiency. Opt for the A6 Allroad Quattro if you want something good on the road that will surprise you off it. Overall the A6 Avant remains a compelling package; compared with the saloon, the extra legroom and bigger boot make it the better family car choice. Prices start from €47,500 for the Avant and €64,500 for the All Road
BMW 3 series Touring / GT
With the launch last year of the refreshed Audi A4 and the all new Jaguar XE, a revamped BMW 3 series was never going to be far away and it arrived in Ireland late last year. Efficiency has improved across the range but the star in terms of fuel economy is the 320d. With an official fuel consumption figure of 72.4mpg and CO2 emissions as low as 99g/km, road tax is just €180 a year. And if you yearn for even more frugality, a plug-in-hybrid will join the range next year which BMW claim will return 134.5mpg with CO2 emissions of just 49g/km. The GT is an interesting but expensive addition to the range. Prices for the touring start at €38,940 and for the GT €46,560
BMW 5 series touring / GT
It is sleek, stylish and practical and, yes, it is an Estate; the BMW 5 series Touring is one of the smartest family load luggers around. The M5 is a high-performance version but think of it more as a luxury 5 series saloon that houses incredible power but still manages to be sufficiently understated that it could actually transport the family with minimum fuss and in maximum comfort. The ActiveHybrid 5 will appeal to those who worry about the environment but the fuel economy is disappointing while the very odd looking GT is best avoided. Prices for the Touring start at €49,010 and for the GT €59,340.
Dacia Logan MCV
Dacia brings their no nonsense approach to the Estate car category with their Logan MCV or Maximum Capacity Vehicle. It’s not the most glamorous car but it’s a very practical one. Inside it is awash with plastics but there is a huge amount of space and up to 1,518 litres with the rear seats folded. Engines include a 90bhp 3-cylinder, 900cc engine or an 89bhp 1.5-litre turbodiesel. On the road there is little to grumble about and overall with a price tag just €11,390 you get a huge amount for your money.
The DS5 is the true successor to the original 50’s icon with head turning looks and futuristic design. Now with a more comfortable ride and improved road manners, there’s a lot to like about this new DS5. Prices for the new DS start at €36,045 and go up to €50,195 for the range topping DS 5 Prestige Hybrid4 200 Airdream. There are two trim levels – the ‘Elegance’ and ‘Prestige’, three BlueHDi diesels engine variations and a Euro 6 compliant hybrid 4×4 drivetrain. The DS5 is a very chic five-seat family car and is a beautiful blend of Estate, coupe and MPV. Prices start from €36,045
Ford Focus Estate
It may not be the most practical or largest Estate around but sometimes, a bit of space comes in handy and the Focus hatchback is well-built, attractive and when it comes to handling and steering feed-back, it cannot be faulted. Offered with a huge range of both petrol and diesel engines. Power ranges from 85bhp in the 1.6-litre petrol to 246bhp in the 2.0-litre petrol Focus ST Estate. The diesels are also very good in terms of performance and economy and the 1.6-litre with 113bhp is our recommendation and a popular choice. Prices start from €23,545.
Ford Mondeo Estate
Cars such as the Ford Mondeo Estate are facing increasing competition from crossovers, compact SUVs and MPVs for a slice of the family market. Like the saloon, the Mondeo is very good to drive; it is not quite as sharp as the previous version but is still very refined and comfortable behind the wheel. On the practical side, the boot could be a little bigger and the cabin quality might be better but as a family car there are few that would find serious fault with it. Engines range from 1.6 and 2.0 litre diesel and the powerful 1.0 litre EcoBoost petrol, all returning impressive fuel economy. Prices start from €32,645.
Honda Civic Tourer
If you need a car that can accommodate a young and growing family, the occasional school friend and from time to time a grandparent or two, then you need a bigger car than a regular hatchback. The Honda Civic Tourer is 235mm longer than the five-door hatchback on which it is based. There are only two choices when it comes to engine options, a 140bhp 1.8-litre i-VTEC petrol or a118bhp 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel. The Honda Civic Tourer is pricey but it is spacious, economical and if you factor in Honda’s excellent reputation for reliability that high price tag becomes a lot more competitive. Prices start at €26,355
Hyundai i30 Tourer
With smart styling, the Hyundai i30 Tourer proves that small Estates can be surprisingly practical. It is also excellent value, especially when you consider it boasts a 528-litre boot that rises to 1,642 litres when the rear seats are folded. Buyers have a good choice of engines but the pick of the bunch is the 1.6 litre diesel engine with a good blend of economy and performance. On the road it rides just like the hatchback and while the steering is a little dull and a bit more feedback would be welcome, it grips the road well and regardless of surface, it feels assured. The real virtues of the i30 are space, price and a five-year warranty. The range starts from €24,745.
Hyundai i40 Tourer
Estate cars have had a tough time in recent years because of the influx of SUVs and crossovers but if you need a handsome load lugger, the i40 with a 553-litre boot that stretches to a van-like 1,719 litres with the rear seats folded, is hard to beat. On the road there is more body roll than the saloon and rivals offer better handling but it is comfortable and very refined. Power comes from two versions of the 1.7 litre turbo diesel engine with a choice of automatic or six-speed manual gear boxes. With space, practicality and value for money there are the i40 Tourer leaves few boxes unticked. Prices start from €29,995.
Kia cee’d SW
Kia call their cee’d Estate the Sportswagon and although not sporty, it is an attractive machine. Powering the range is a 1.6-litre diesel and on the road it is not the most refined but it is very comfortable and relaxing. Inside the understated styling of the Sportswagon appeals as does the interior space and decent boot at 527 litres. Fold the seats down and there is also an impressive 1,624 lires available. Well priced buyers also benefit from Kia’s seven year warranty. Prices start from €24,880
Mazda 6 Estate
Mazda is pitching this car at those who want something more from the family car segment. With style, comfort and performance, the new 6 will suit those swapping from a large SUV to those tempted by a bigger family car plus it has been given a mild facelift for 2017. With bags of room and super fuel economy, the German premium sector should also be worried. The 2.2 litre diesel returns 67mpg on a mix of motorway and city driving and CO2 emissions are 110 g/km. Sales of MPV’s and SUVs may have threatened the survival of the large traditional family car but models such as the Mazda6 Estate should cause families to rethink. Prices start from €31,395
Mercedes C Class Estate
If the C Class is a chic saloon, the Estate version is a very handsome one. Inside it is not only classy, luxurious and extremely comfortable but it is also reasonably practical. At 490 litres the boot offers only 10 more litres than the saloon but when the rear seats are folded this extends to 1,510 litres. Sharing the same engine range as the Saloon it is just as good to drive. Estate cars may not be particularly popular on the Irish market- in contrast to mainland Europe but anyone looking for a stylish family car which blends performance and economy should consider the C-Class Estate. Prices start from €37,985.
Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake
The very striking and elegant CLA Shooting Brake is the latest addition to the Mercedes Benz range and is based on the compact CLA four door coupé. Proportions from the front are similar to the coupe and it shares the same oversized headlights and the diamond radiator grille but it’s the sloping roofline to the rear that gives it a far more dynamic and sporty profile. Engine options include two diesels and three petrol engines as well as with 4MATIC all-wheel drive. Behind the wheel the Shooting Brake is set up more for comfort than in the coupe and it is impressively smooth. Practical enough to merit family car status but compact enough to squeeze handily into most car spaces the CLA has classy good looks, drives well and is easy on fuel making it an elegant yet functional SUV alternative. Prices start from €31,760.
While MINI purists may still consider the new MINI far too big for it’s name plate, for some it was still simply too small with cramped space and a tiny boot. The solution was the Clubman launched in 2008 and a brand new version has just arrived in Ireland. Engines in the line-up include 192bhp and 148bhp 2.0 litre four-cylinder diesel and a134bhp 1.5 litre three-cylinder petrol. While it is not as sharp as the Hatchback and the extra weight is apparent, any fears on our test drive that the go-kart handling would be diminished were soon laid to rest as it negotiated twists and bends with reassuring ease. It may not be the most practical Estate but for a two-child family it certainly makes buying a MINI a viable if somewhat pricey option with a starting price of €29,100.
Opel Astra Tourer
Opel’s hatchback the Astra has been carefully crafted to give it a dynamic presence on the road and everything from the beautifully sculptured lines to the wider yet slimmer rear lights combines to make it look far more athletic appearance. The new Tourer version launched this year retains that same sleek styling but with a more practical purpose. Space throughout is good particularly leg and head room and there is a decent amount of storage. Overall there is more than enough room in the spacious interior for 2.4 kids, a large dog, golf clubs and the weekly shop. Prices start from €21,195.
Opel Insignia Sports Tourer
Following a 2013 facelift the Insignia emerged with a much sharper design and improved engines, styling, suspension and a host of new technologies. The design is even more successful with the Sports Tourer and overall it is a better car than the saloon. Inside there is more space in the back than in the Saloon and it is a more practical car. Despite the extra bulk, the Estate drives similar to the saloon and while its not the best driving car in this segment it has a lot to recommend it. Prices start from €26,895.
Peugeot 308 SW
The 308 takes a hatchback and adds many of the benefits you’d expect from the best people carriers and the result is the ideal family car. The clever conversion from hatch to Estate means the 308 loses little in the looks department and it is a very stylish sports wagon. Sharing the same trim and engine line up as the hatchback there is good mix to choose from. If space is your priority then the price premium you pay for the SW is money well spent as you get extra legroom thanks to a longer wheelbase and a very generous 660 litre boot that can extend to 1,775 litres. The 308 SW is difficult to beat and is perfect if you need a car that can carry several sets of golf clubs – and the trolley, too. Prices start from €22,140.
Peugeot 508 SW
A sophisticated and sporty French Estate, the Peugeot 508 is tres chic inside and out. While the 508 saloon fares better in terms of exterior styling than the Estate version, inside it is supremely comfortable. Although not as spacious as some of its rivals, decent legroom is found front and back but the Sports wagon is let down by a relatively small boot at 512 litres. On the motorway the 508 SW soaks up miles effortlessly and on narrow back roads it keeps you cosseted but for keen drivers the “comfort” suspension means it’s not as capable as rivals and there is noticeable body roll. Two diesels are offered a 1.6 and 2.0. Sporting good looks, excellent build quality and a classy cabin makes this one of the most accomplished Peugeots to date. Prices start from €29,290.
Seat Leon ST
The Seat Leon ST is just as much fun to drive as the hatchback, with good driving dynamics and quick acceleration, yet it’s also practical. With a spacious cabin, large 587-litre boot and good head & legroom through out the Leon ST is proof that compact Estates can be surprisingly roomy. As with the hatchback, the SEAT Leon Sports Tourer is a good looking, spacious and practical family car that is a cheaper alternative to the Audi A3 and VW Golf on which it is based. Prices start from €20,995.
Skoda Octavia Combi
Easily one of the biggest and most practical cars in this class the long wheelbase allows you carry three adults in the rear in comfort and boasts a boot that looks vast enough to swallow a country. Offered with both manual and automatic transmission options and a good range of engines. All engines come with Stop Start technology that significantly increases overall fuel economy. The Octavia has always been a good choice as it offers so much for your money but is also stylish, comfortable and efficient. If you want the best-value family Estate on the market, look no further. Prices start from €19,995.
Skoda Superb Combi
Incredibly, there is even more space in Skoda’s new Estate version of their Superb than in the Saloon. With a cavernous interior there is even additional leg room in the rear. With a bigger boot than VW’s Passat, the 660 litre boot extends to a van like 1950 litres with the rear seats folded. Two petrol and two diesel engines are offered and all are efficient. With great value pricing and generous equipment levels, the Superb is a truly superb choice. Prices start from €28,195.
Just launched in Ireland the Subaru Levorg is a four-wheel drive family Estate with a sporty look and heaps of practical features. From the outside it boasts muscular lines with huge bonnet air vent and double exhausts while inside the hardwearing leather interior and huge 522 litre boot makes it a good family car. On the road the handling, is very good and it tackles bends and country roads with real confidence though the suspension is a little on the harsh side. There is a choice of just one engine, a 1.6-litre petrol engine that returns 7.1 litres/100km (almost 40mpg) on a combined cycle. The Subaru Levorg is priced at €44,995.
According to Subaru the Outback was the world’s first crossover, successfully combining the benefits of a passenger Estate car with the all-road capabilities of an SUV. A new, fifth generation Outback went on sale this year sporting an all-new exterior design, a higher quality interior and a raft of new safety technology compared to the outgoing model including Subaru’s ‘EyeSight’ technology which acts as a ‘second pair of eyes’ for drivers, employing stereo colour camera technology to monitor the road and traffic ahead for potential hazards. Powered by 2.0-litre turbo-diesel the new Outback is now even more capable off-road, with the addition of the new X-Mode control feature on Lineartronic models and carry-over 200 mm ground clearance. Prices start from €40,995.
Toyota Auris Touring Sports
If you need more practicality than your average family hatchback but you want something that can also be parked in a tight corner when you get home again, the Auris Touring Sport may just be what you are searching for. Settle behind the wheel of the Auris and everything is light and roomy and is all well made. The Auris Touring Sports is nearly 30cm longer than the hatchback version and it is the boot that gains all the additional space. The Touring version of the Auris doesn’t feel like an Estate car at all and on the road it is as composed and light as the hatchback. The engine more than packs enough power when it counts but is light on fuel. The real strength of this car lies in its spacious, economical and functional approach to family motoring. Prices start from €25,155.
Toyota Avensis Estate
The Avensis has endured as a best seller on our roads for its consistency, reliability and value for money. A recent revamp has only increased its appeal. Inside it is spacious, comfortable and easy on the eye and is all about practicality. For 2015 it got some subtle improvements that have been made to the exterior and two new BMW sourced 1.6-litre and 2-litre diesel engines. The Avensis is not a car that is ever going to excite but it is one that is very hard to find fault with. With a great name for reliability, super cruising comfort and a first-rate specification the Avensis will provide stress-free motoring in comfort and safety. Prices start from €30,840
Volkswagen Golf Estate
The appeal of Volkswagen’s Golf has always been broad and the Estate version is ideal for those who need just a little bit more from their Golf. On the road it is virtually indistinguishable from the hatchback with the same composed and responsive handling but when it comes to space it offers considerably more. The boot boasts a very generous 605 litre capacity or 1,620 when the seats are folded. Similar to the hatch, the Golf Estate is not cheap to buy and there are alternatives for less but it’s well built, practical and very good to drive. Prices start from €22,760
Volkswagen Passat Estate
The new eight-generation Passat is elegantly designed and beautifully trimmed and now with a more angular and sharper look it sits better with VW’s more desirable line-up and with it Volkswagen have high hopes of tapping into the premium section of the market for the first time. On the road the steering feels good, composed and enjoyable to drive and yes it could just be a bit more fun but that is not what this car is all about – behind the wheel the Passat is designed to take you hundreds of stress free miles. The Passat Estate is the ideal companion when shopping for flat-pack furniture, stocking up at the garden centres and moonlight flits. Prices start from €29,615
Volvo V60/V60 Cross Country
Revamped two years ago the V60 along with its sibling saloon got a much needed injection of style. Inside it is classic Volvo with beautiful details and very comfortable seats. For 2016 there are two new diesel engines for D2 and D3, plus increased power for the new 190bhp D4 and the more powerful new V60 Hybrid is renamed D6 Twin Engine. The V60 Cross Country also got a more rugged makeover. The Volvo V60 is not the most practical Estate on the road but it is very safe, snug and stylish. Prices start from €37.095.
28th September 2016