Will Kinsman, Head of Motorsport Content in this parish, texted me asking for advice on new-parent cars last night. We both agreed, as parents and car fans, that an estate is still a better option than an SUV, despite what the rest of the world clearly believes. You get just as much space, sometimes more, but you also retains a sense of the car’s handling, as opposed to feeling like you’re a giraffe stuck in the mud.
Erin Baker: the 10 best estates
So here are Goodwood Road and Racing’s top spring picks for family estates. Don’t forget, too, that while the rest of the country shuns diesel, new diesels are as clean as most petrol engines and, if you do more than 20,000 miles a year, you’re probably financially better off with a diesel car.
1) Skoda Octavia Estate
We’ve been driving a bright red one this week, with manual six-speed gearbox and 1.5 TSI engine which is the pick of the bunch. Cheaper and more powerful than its Golf equivalent.
2) Ford Mondeo estate
You still can’t beat the Mondeo for space and Ford’s fantastic steering and chassis, which gives this big car great dynamic handling. It’s handsome, too.
3) Seat Leon ST Cupra
Will Kinsman says he can’t buy this or he’ll lose his licence, but it’s our pick of the bunch. It looks like a bog-standard small estate but has 300bhp on tap which is comfortably all you need.
4) Vauxhall Insignia Tourer
We know this model is normally reserved for the company fleet guys, but the latest iteration looks good inside and out, has oodles of space and handles really, really nicely. A pleasant surprise to all the journalists who drove it on the launch.
5) Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
A performance-oriented, handsome estate. Porsche basically flattened out the roof to make it less of a coupe and more of a station wagon. Whatever: it looks magnificent and goes like a family rocket.
6) BMW 5-Series Touring
The consummate family estate, if you have the budget. The perfect compromise between space for the kids and decent driving for mum and dad. The only slight fly in the ointment is BMW’s more sporting suspension, which gives the car a harder ride than the competition.
7) Volvo V90
The best-looking shooting brake on our list. Vovlo’s new family rear, with elongated LED tail-lamps is the bees' knees, and the interior perfects the blend of luxury and family-friendly, with space, big buttons and plenty of storage.
8) Audi A4 Allroad
If you’re after a soft-roader, with raised suspension and four-wheel-drive, a jacked-up estate is a more handsome and appealing proposition in our mind. Softer springs with increased travel means it got a bit knocked by the motoring press, but our kids love a springy ride, so we do too.
9) Mercedes E-class estate
It’s massive. Really, really, really big inside. We mean, really big. Big enough to double as a removal van. The boot echoes. That big.
10) Ferrrai GTC4 Lusso
Well, got to have this one on the list, haven’t you? A V12 powering four wheels, and a boot similar in size to a Ford Focus estate means practicality and performance combine as one to offer the ultimate weekend getaway car. Leave the kids at home.
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