Swoon over the best estate cars ever made

We’re looking at 10 fast estate cars for less than £10,000. My first car was an estate and I am generally a massive fan of estate cars. Don’t forget I’m in the UK so prices in other countries may differ. And remember that whenever you buy a second-hand car, maintenance, repairs, insurance and all that good stuff is important to remember. To reduce bias on my side, I have ordered these cars from slowest to fastest from 0-60mph and I’ve broken any ties using the bhp figure

Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon

A car designed by the same man is responsible for the Giulia Sprint GTV, Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta, Lancia Delta and even the Mk 1 Golf amongst many other iconic cars. It hosts a 3.2L V6 putting out 260bhp, which takes it from 0 to 60mph in 7 seconds. Since it is the work of such a recognised designer, plus the fact that it’s using the same platform as other pricy cars like the Brera and the Spider, it should come as no surprise that as well as being a very good-looking car, the Alfa V6 doesn’t sound half bad either. The interior takes inspiration from older Alfa’s and was designed specifically to compete with BMW, Mercedes and Audi equivalents in the executive car space. These are generally listed for around £7000, but they’re relatively rare. So it might be worth hunting around for you find one that suits your ideal spec. On reliability, the key point owners note is stretching timing changes means oil change intervals need to be reduced significantly. There are also some electrical and build quality issues synonymous with Alfa Romeo at this point worthy of note, so do try to get a test drive in the car you buy to work out what isn’t working.

Saab 93 Turbo X

Just ahead of the Alfa we have the Saab 93 Turbo X and it’s quite a rare car to get a hold of as I couldn’t find many estates available at all, but will go for around £8-10k. It hosts a 2.8L turbocharged V6 putting out 276bhp, and it will do 0 to 60mph in around 6.8 seconds. To celebrate 30 years of turbocharged Saabs, the business decided to upgrade their 93 to a turbocharged beast, available in both saloon and estate otherwise known as Sportcombi. It was the first production car by Saab to feature the XWD or all wheel drive system from Haldex and comes in either 6-speed manual or automatic and has a whole bunch of other cool features on it too, like the carbon fibre look throughout the interior and the turbo boost gauge which is inspired by the Saab 900. This is a certified sleeper considering its performance but lack of any noticeable flare over and above what yu would expect from a normal Saab. Owners note these are generally very reliable, but the fuel pump expansion tank and weak batteries are known issues, the Haldex is also expensive to replace if it breaks, but that would be highly unfortunate.

Skoda Octavia VRS

Admittedly I’m a sucker for a Skoda, estate models in particular, and the Octavia VRS is definitely one that gets me going with its 2.0L turbocharged inline-4 putting out 216bhp, which goes from 0 to 60mph in 6.7 seconds. The 3rd gen Octavia, made available from 2012 with a more angular aesthetic compared to previous generations of the car. It’s not far off the Golf GTI in terms of performance, which makes sense as it shares a lot of its chassis and design with that car. In VRS spec it gets some good options too like sports suspension, 19″ alloys, a sports body kit, twin exit exhaust, and a sporty interior with leather seats and a bunch of VRS logos around the car. It’s also very practical as you might expect from an estate where it specifically comes with plenty of storage compartments, which I can confirm are highly useful. It can be difficult to find a TSi for under £10k but they are available from around £8.5k with 80,000 miles on the clock. And you could always go for a slightly less punchy example for less cash if speed isn’t a prerequisite for you. The main noted failures on these have been with the DSG for those who went for autos and outside of that the key issue of note is the water pump but these cars are generally reasonably reliable.

Volvo V76

The 3rd generation of this model doesn’t have that lovely inline-five of its predecessor, but it does have mad power coming from its 3.0L turbocharged inline-six 300bhp to be exact, which gets from 0 to 60 in 6.7 seconds. In true Volvo fashion, this model increased practicality over previous generations as a priority including more leg room for the rear seat and a revised rear end which increased storage space by 55 litres. Now obviously this isn’t a classic Volvo R estate that we know and love for their performance, but the T6 is the next best thing from a slightly more modern era. If you really do care about the aesthetic, you can always get an R-design model with a sportier exterior, they start around £6500 for the bare minimum but £10k will get you a 2007 example with under 50,000 miles on the clock. Generally these are considered to be very reliable, but the turbochargers have been known to fail, something to be wary of if you spot any blue smoke from the exhaust, or a lack of power compared to what you’re used to.

Ford Focus ST

In sixth we have the Ford Focus ST estate, which hosts a 2.0L turbocharged (or EcoBoost in the words of Ford) inline-four putting out 246bhp, which takes the car from 0 to 60 in 6.3 seconds. Though it’s not quite RS level, the exterior is much more aggressive over the standard Focus being both wider and lower, as well as getting some more premium features like alloy wheels. It also gets some faux carbon fibre trim, sports seats and some other nice bits of interior trim that match the car’s colour. As with the former generation, it comes in three trim levels; the ST1, ST2 and ST3 depending on how premium you want your package to be.

I actually think the Focus ST Estate has a different allure to it than the hatchback as well, considering it’s not what you necessarily expect. There are plenty of STs out there on the roads, but the estates are just that little bit rarer and therefore more interesting in my mind. £10k is around the minimum you’ll spend to get one of these and you’re looking at around 80,000 miles on the clock for that kind of money, but prices are generally below £13k for good models. Regardless, there are some build quality issues with these like creaking windscreens, but one major problem was with the powershift automatic boxes, which should be avoided on early models outside of that though, there aren’t too many majorly common issues to be covered.

Subaru Impreza WRX

In fifth we have the Subaru Impreza WRX with its 2.0L turbocharged boxer-four engine putting out 215bhp which takes us from 0 to 60 in 5.9 seconds but before we go anywhere with this car, please do know that you can get the slightly newer WRX within the £10k budget. That’s the most recent facelift model with the 2.5L block, but it’s renowned for being problematic hence, I would probably recommend going through a slightly older 2-litre instead. It’s actually classified as a hatchback but it’s very much along estate lines as it’s the twin sister car to the Saab 92 X. It was released in the North American market as an estate and it has slightly less storage space than some of the other cars on this list but it’s still a beast in terms of performance and is, in my opinion, an ideal daily car. As a big Impreza fan, I actually really liked it in estates spec too despite the saloon actually being my preference on this one although the interior is pretty boring. Either way, you can grab these super cheap for under £3000 but around the £5000 – 6000 mark is a good area to look if you want we’re in good shape with lower mileage. If they’ve been harassed, con rod bearings can be an issue but owners note that these can be reliable from an engine and turbo perspective as long as they’re looked after well. Rust on the other hand is a key issue that can affect anyone’s Impreza so make sure you get under the car and have a look if you’re on the hunt for one.

BMW 335D

Just missing out on the top three is the E91 BMW 335D Touring with its twin turbocharged 3.0L inline-six putting out 281bhp and 580n/m of torque covering 0 to 60mph in 5.9 seconds. This generation of three series is rapidly becoming a well-loved one, thanks to some nice designs and decent popularity as well as being the last before the four series came in and took over the coupe and convertible models. As an estate it’s a very sizable car so slightly slower to 60mph than the coupe example, but only just, and the practicality makes it very much worth it. The interiors aren’t amazing on these but they’re not awful either in isolation, its more if you compare them to Mercedes and Audis from the same era. They’re not quite as nice, but you can get some nice coloured leather seats and a long panoramic roof depending on what you’re after. High mileage examples are available as low as £6000 and £10k will get you on with 90,000 miles on the clock. Still, there are some known issues with turbos or turbo seals failing, run flat tires causing alloy cracks and a few electrical problems. There are also a bunch of parts that were labelled good for the lifetime of the car, which is only in reality around 10 years or 120,000 miles. So the sealed gearboxes and timing chain will be key areas to look out for.

VW Passat R36

A very rare car takes third place on this list, so rare in fact there are barely any available online right now. You can get them from anywhere between £8-10k with good examples around £12k, it’s the VW Passat R36, which hosted a 3.6L VR6, putting out 295bhp, managing a 0-60moh time of 5.6 seconds. Like the R32 Golf from the same era. This is the high performance VR6 car for the Passat line and asthetically you can see the similarities in terms of alloys, aggressive bodystyling, twin exit exhaust, and the grill technically is similar too with the AWD layout and DST paddleshift box, not to mention the interior with the Recaro seats and the R36 logos throughout. As I mentioned it’s a very rare car and for that reason again, I actually prefer it to the R32 Golf and it’s also helped to those values to remain higher. However, in terms of driving, owners and journalists note it is not a very nice car to drive despite being very fast, so not quite as fun as the newer Golf R Estate today. The DSG in these is noted by owners as being the main issue to look out for when buying one so make sure you look out for any potential stuttering on gear changes. However, the build quality is known to be quite high otherwise, and they share a lot of parts with other VW cars anyway, which makes life easier in terms of replacements.

Audi A4 Avant

Another VW Group car in second place is the 5th generation Audi S4 Avant otherwise known as the B8 with a 3.0L supercharged V6 putting out 328bhp, which takes it from 0-60mph in 5 seconds flat. It comes with additional options that weren’t available on former models like the sports rear diff, active steering and active damping suspension, as well as some expected features like the sporty bodystyle and interior. As always with S models is the middle ground between the standard A4 and the more savage RS4 though it doesn’t sound as good as the B7 V8. It still maintains a supercharger, which helps give it a fair bit of extra grunt for a V6. Audi knew the V8 in the B7 wasn’t very comparable in terms of performance with competitors like the BMW 335i so the V6 came in to differentiate the car and carve out space in the market as a practical performance beast. £9k is around the minimum we will pay for one of these and at £10k you’re looking at around 90,000 miles on the clock. The DSG or S tronic transmission is known to have issues as does the water pump and PCV valve as well as an issue with carbon buildup and misfires, the latter of which is pretty par for the course with VW Group cars.

Mercedes E55 AMG

Taking the top spot and the quickest car in this list is the W211 Mercedes E55 AMG, which has a 5.4 litre supercharged V8 putting out 469bhp, taking it from 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds. That’s insane for a sub-£10k estate especially as it’s the oldest car on this list. On release, a saloon variant was the fastest production saloon in the world and the engine won ‘Performance Engine of the Year’ in 2003. It’s mated to a five-speed automatic gearbox and also benefits from AMG-prepared Airmatic suspension, large performance brakes and some nice 18″ alloys. In testing, the car came out as being faster even than the SL55 AMG, which is a confirmed fast car. High mileage examples are available for around £7k but £10 will get you one with less than 100k on the clock.