Fast estates have a somewhat beguiling personality. The ultimate blend of practicality and ferocious performance has proved popular the world over, with the current market dominated by German marques with models such as the Audi RS 6, Alpina B3 S and Mercedes E 63 S.
However it was not Germany or anywhere in Europe that is credited with creating the forefathers of the modern super estates. It is America. For decades, manufacturers in the US were stuffing honking great V8s in to wagons such as the Chevrolet Nomad and Dodge Coronet. Granted they handled like a bowl of Weetabix, but the idea was there.
With performance SUVs slowly eroding the fast estates’ foothold in the market, we thought it a good idea to take stock of the best fast estate cars you can buy.
So read on and enjoy our list of the best fast estate cars 2018…
Audi RS 4
Fans will moan about Audi replacing the 4.2-litre V8 engine used in the previous RS 4, with a less enjoyable 2.9-litre unit, but with 444bhp, 600Nm of torque and a top speed of 174mph in the new car, there are worse problems to have. The interior compliments a car that has a split personality between sensible and ludicrous, but lacks the sense of theatre that some of its rivals bring. At over £60,000 it is by no means cheap – not that that is untoward in present company.
Audi RS 6
The Audi RS 6 is one of the leading lights in the fast estate world. Partly thanks to its looks, but also helped a its 552bhp twin-turbocharged V8 which will rocket you and four other passengers from 0-62mph in just 3.9 seconds, and on to a top speed of 155mph. Prices start from just over £81,000, but for that you do get a comfortable, quiet cabin (most of the time) and 565-litres of boot capacity.
Some will argue the Ferrari GTC4 Lusso isn’t a ‘proper’ estate, but if you consider that it is just leaning a little harder on the left of the performance-practicality balance, it becomes easy to see why it made this list. The Ferrari has a 6.3-litre V12 under the bonnet which pumps out 681bhp and 697Nm of torque, which allows it to obliterate most of this list with a 0-62mph time of 3.4 seconds and a claimed top speed of 208mph.
Ford Focus ST
While the petrol version of the Focus ST wagon is a great fast estate, the 2.0 TDCi is our pick of the bunch. This is largely down to the delivery of the power, with the diesel’s get up and go being less unruly and easier to put down on UK roads, but that does not mean the diesel is a slouch – the performance stats of 182bhp, 400Nm of torque and a 0-62mph time of 8.3secs proves as much. Add to this a claimed economy of 67.3mpg – high 40s low 50s are more realistic – and the diesel Focus ST estate becomes incredible alluring.
The Mercedes-AMG C63 is a full-blown muscle car. Under the bonnet is a 4.0-litre turbocharged V8 which produces a thunderous 469bhp and 650Nm of torque (increasing to 503bhp and 700Nm if you opt for the S model). S or not, both models feel astonishingly quick and of course offer impressive levels of practicality, with the only real issue for everyday use being the firm ride. The interior is a comfortable place to be, even if it is not quite on the same level as the E-Class.
You are going to need deep pockets to drive away in an E63 estate as they start north of £84,000 – which is slightly more expensive than the starting price of the Audi RS 6. That said, the E63 is one of the fastest cars on the road, never mind estates. The latest generation is all-wheel drive and in S guise packs 604bhp and 850Nm of torque. Plus, owners get a drift mode. From a standing start it will hit 62mph in just 3.6 seconds and go on to a limited top speed of 155mph – these changing these to 3.5 seconds and 186mph in the S.
Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
The Porsche Panamera is no longer the ugly duckling it once was, and the Sport Turismo is no exception. If you go for the range-topping Turbo S E-Hybrid, flat out you will be doing 193mph and 0-62mph is over in a meger 3.4 seconds – wiping the floor with all but the Ferrari on this list. Even if you drop down to the Panamera 4 Sport Turismo, the 6-cylinder turbocharged engine allows the big German to reach 160mph flat-out and sprint from rest to 62mph in 5.5 seconds. While the performance is strong here, practicality is not. The rear is just about big enough to get two adults and a smaller human buckled in, and 520-litres of boot space is a tad underwhelming.
SEAT Leon ST Cupra
The SEAT Leon ST Cupra leads the way for fast SEAT wagons. It can measure up to the likes of the Volkswagen Golf R estate thanks to the 296bhp four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine it shares with it. The four-pot gives it a top speed of 155mph and 0-62mph is over in just 4.9 seconds – the latter made possible thanks to the 380Nm of torque. While you pay nearly the same money as you would for the Golf R estate (upwards of £31k), the Leon is available with a manual gearbox, with the VW is not. One of the SEAT’s party pieces is driven carefully and you can tickle the 40mpg mark, but then again, where is the fun in that?
Skoda Octavia vRS
The Skoda Octavia vRS estate is a cracking performance wagon, in both diesel and petrol forms. It comes in various guises, starting at just under £27,000 for the 2.0-litre TSI 230. Driving a Octavia vRS won’t be a complete revelation, but the subtle driver appeal and practicality makes for one mighty impressive package. While performance is down on the Golf R estate, you will still be able to crack 62mph from a standing start in under 7 seconds and go on to a top speed of 153mph.
Volkswagen Golf R
The Golf R estate is related to both the Skoda and SEAT mentioned above (but comes with four-wheel drive), and offers one of the finest all-round driving packages you can get for the money – the R starts at around £36k. Under the hood there is the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder producing 296bhp as found in the Leon, but here it is only available with VW’s seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. The exhaust note sounds good with a nice deep burble, which helps keep up the fun even when you aren’t exploiting the strong chassis.
These estates are fast, but they aren’t a patch on the fastest road cars in the world…