The modern estate car is light years away from the old. The boxy look and wallowly ride are gone. The fusty image of dog owners and antique dealers has been replaced with one that is more about a lifestyle vehicle for young, trendy families or sports and leisure enthusiasts.
“Estate cars are the new lifestyle vehicles and are attracting customers who would previously have owned SUVs,” says Barry Walsh, Product Executive at Volvo Ireland. “With improvements in exterior design and styling, together with new descriptors such as Sportwagen, there has been a shift in how these cars are perceived,” says Walsh.
Volvo has long been the purveyor of big, safe estate cars for the middle classes but the Volvo Concept Estate recently shown at Geneva is a glimpse of the future of the estate car and there is nothing boxy about it at all.
While estate cars have never been as popular in Ireland as they have been in other markets like the UK, the tide appears to be turning with Volvo Ireland noting more enquires here regarding estate body types, in particular the face-lifted Volvo V60 range.
There has been a similar increase in interest across Volkswagen Group owned brands here that offer a number of estate models like the Audi A6 Avant, SEAT Leon Sports Tourer, Volkswagen Passat Estate and SKODA Octavia Combi, with Volkswagen now also considering introducing the Golf Estate to the Irish market.
“There is a growth in interest in the estate car market here, especially in our products, mainly because with tougher emissions laws and increasing road taxes there is a move towards something with the practicality of an SUV and the frugality of a saloon car,” says Paddy Comyn, Head of PR and Social Media at Volkswagen Group Ireland.
“The Estate market in Ireland was traditionally quite small perhaps due to the association with the old station wagon of the 1970s. Back then, estate cars weren’t always designed to be standalone models, rather they were standard cars with a house bolted on to the back. They weren’t always that dynamically brilliant as a result. However these days they are designed to be what they are from day 1,” says Comyn.
This is good news for the consumer and a modern estate car provides a good driving experience despite the extra length and weight.
With the surge in popularity of SUVs and MPVs over recent years, it seemed that the estate car was dead and buried. But with the help of new names like “sportswagon” and “sports tourer” and swish new styling it’s fair to say that the humble estate car has mastered a huge rebranding – without a whiff of l’eau du Labrador.
27th March, 2014