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8 of the best medium-sized estate cars

By Paul Connolly

Big estate cars get most publicity thanks to their roomy cabins and load-lugging capabilities.

But not everyone needs a cavernous boot and sumptuous interior.

For many, particularly families, a versatile smaller car with an estate capacity is more than enough to fulfil their requirements.

There are in fact several excellent estates based on compact family cars, mostly of the hatchback variety like the Astra and Focus.

The genre was reportedly inspired back in the 80s with the aim of producing a normal family hatchback but with enough load space to carry prams, sports kit, the weekly shop and holiday suitcases.

The current dash to SUVs and crossovers may look well-nigh unstoppable (MPVs risk getting wiped out in the process) but it’s likely small estates will continue to thrive thanks to their intrinsic utility value and pricing.

For example, there is that large boot, made even bigger by fold-flat rear seats, where available. Also, the dimensions of the boot door tends to be wide and high, with low lips. This makes them easy to load with outsized kit like bikes.

The lower height versus SUVs makes them more fuel-efficient – and they tend to handle better due to their relatively low centre of gravity.

So, let’s look at our favourites, bearing in mind that marketers often want to ‘sex up’ the humble estate with monikers like wagon, sports wagon, tourer, etc.

All prices are approximate and may change to do discounting, the addition of new features, facelifts, etc.

1. VW Golf Estate

Few car listings in the middle of the market are complete without a Golf near the top and this one is no exception.

Serious build quality, excellent German engineering, and a great range of models (including S, SE, GT, Alltrack and the GTD diesel) make this an all-round winner.  Fuel efficiency is good across the range, which was face-lifted this year. It’s great to drive, too.

Boot space is 605/1620-litres (that’s 605-litres expandable to 1,620 litres with the rear seats folded down).

Price: From £20,530.

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2. Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer

The Astra Sport Tourer has a lineage dating back to the early days of the mid-sized estate genre.

It has a 540-litre boot, which expands to up to 1,630-litres with the rear seats folded flat.

It is stylishly designed, and comes with an excellent range of diesel and petrol engines.  Official fuel economy for the range is 45-81mpg depending on which model you choose.

Price: From around the £16,910 mark.

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3. Peugeot 308 SW estate

This car offers the biggest boot in its class, indeed its 660/1775-litres competes with larger cars in the class above it.

So, if you need to pack in lots of kit or products, the Peugeot may well be the one to go for.

The cabin has been redesigned and is now a classy affair with a large central touchscreen.

There is a good range of engines, with a combined economy range of 58-88mpg and a towing capacity up to 1,500 kg.

Price: From £18,864

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4. Hyundai i30 Tourer

The Koreans have raised their game in so many areas, and this segment is no exception.

The i30 Tourer It’s comfortable, handles well, has a quality cabin and is very reliable (there’s a five-year/unlimited mileage warranty).

You get an impressive range of technology as standard and high safety ratings for occupants.

Price: From £17,535

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5. Ford Focus ST Estate

The Focus remains the in the top three best-selling cars in the UK so far this year (with Fiesta #1, Golf #2).

The Focus estate range has a smaller boot than most other models here at 476-litres but a recent facelift has left it brimming with on-board technology. There is also a huge range of models and a wide choice of efficient engines.

If you can afford it, pick the sporty Focus ST Estate for a truly engaging drive.

Price: From around the £27k mark.

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6. Skoda Octavia Estate

The Octavia is quite imposing in this class due to its size. This is somewhat surprising, given that it shares its underpinnings with the Golf and Seat Leon.

However, Skoda’s engineers have managed to make it roomier than its cousins. The result is a big-selling, award-winning small to medium estate car loved in particular by canny fleet managers.

It’s packed full of cubbyholes and other clever storage features, and the 610-litre boot expands  to 1,740-litres of load space. There’s a wide model range.

Price: From £17,610

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7. Renault Megane Sport Tourer

Classy inside and out, there’s one place the Megane estate won’t let you down – and that’s in the style stakes.

Renault’s latest R-Link system is displayed in a large touchscreen in the centre of the dash, and from here you can control, and connect to, pretty much everything.

Load space is very good at 580/1695-litres and the car comes with low running costs and lots of technology.

Price: From £19,090

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8. SEAT Leon ST estate

This one is for the drivers among you. It looks great and handles beautifully, but has the smallest load space of any car here.

SEAT’s designers have refused to compromise on style, with the result that you have a lovely looking car with a steeply raked rear. This means lost boot space: 587-litres expandable to 1,470.

You do get lots of modern tech and a wide engine range. Definitely form over function. But that’s the way some people like it.

Price: From £18,450.

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