Fast Estate Cars – Alternatives to that Boring Diesel Family Car You’re Considering

That’s it, you’ve reached a stage in life where the pitter patter of tiny feet means the MX5 / Audi TT / 3 Series Coupe is weeks away from finding itself on Autotrader or eBay. You’re thinking about buying a sensible, safe family car that’ll do 50mpg and take a buggy, travel cot, 18 blankets, nappies, toys… STOP! Before you type ‘Ford Focus Diesel’ into Google, READ THIS BLOG.

OK, so having kids has made us concede that you probably will be needing an estate car… especially if (like us) you accidentally bought a pushchair that folds down to almost exactly the same size and dimensions as a double bed. Oops.

So, without further ado, here’s our round up of quick family wagons that can be bought for the same amount of money you were thinking of spending anyway…

(Oh and we haven’t included any Vauxhalls. Yeah Yeah VXR and all that but just… No.


Fast Alternatives to that Boring Diesel Family Car You’re Considering:

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Audi S4 Avant (Typ B5 variant, 1994 to 2001)

2.7 litre V6, 261 bhp, 0 – 60 mph 5.9 seconds, 155 mph top speed (limited)

Currently starting around £6,000

The earlier B5 variant is where the ‘subtle but quick’ thing really took off. If you haven’t driven a B5 S4, you really should. The combination of 6 speed gearbox, wonderful 2.7 litre V6 and four wheel drive is just magical. The handling and grip of an Audi Quattro is immense. Hope the kids aren’t travel sick.

Audi S4 Avant (Typ 8E/8H variant, 2000 to 2006)

4.2 litre V8, 339 bhp, 0-60 mph 5.7 seconds, 155 mph top speed (limited)

Currently starting around £7,000

Next generation S4s for V8 power, but somehow lost a bit of the pizazz and understatement of the earlier model. Still, performance is impressive and that V8 sounds sublime.

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Audi RS6 Avant (Typ 4B variant, 1997 to 2004)

4.2 litre V8, 444 bhp, 0-60 mph 4.7 seconds, 155 mph top speed (limited)

Currently starting around £7,500

The daddy-o of affordable german load lugging muscle, the RS6 uses two turbo chargers to achieve an impressive 444 bhp. Not only is it large enough to transport a grandfather clock and quick enough to embarrass a Porsche 911, it’s cool enough for Daniel Craig, who drove one in the movie Layer Cake.

Considering a fast Audi for that summer holiday with the kids? It’s important to note that Audi S and RS owners report that the speed limiter is rather liberal on all RS cars, with genuine ‘limited’ top speeds of 270 km/h (167.8 mph) being possible to achieve.

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Sorry, caption is in German, it actually says Mecedes C55 AMG Tiff Needell takes the Formula 1 Medical car and virtually goes beserk while the kids put up no resistance

Mercedes C43 AMG Estate (w202 variant, 1993 to 2000)

4.3 litre V8, 306 bhp, 0-60 mph 5.7 seconds, 155 mph top speed (limited)

Currently starting around £5,500

The C43 is a mighty choice for a quick estate car. It might not have the load space offered by an E55, but what it loses in size it gains in rarity… Just 100 arrived in the UK, and if reports are to believed, around 10% of these are all that remain on the roads today. Only available as an automatic. We’ve not yet had one of these, so if you’ve got one for sale, do get in touch.

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Mercedes E55 AMG Estate (w210 variant, 1995 to 2003)

5.5 litre V8, 354 bhp, 0-60 5.4 seconds, 155 mph top speed (limited)

Currently starting around £6,500

Both the W202 C43 and W210 E55 hark back to the glory days of AMG, paying tribute to a time when having huge amounts of power was nothing to shout about… These cars offer a level of subtlety that some of the other models mentioned in this blog just don’t match. The E55 AMG is understated. Without the big mono block wheels and lower suspension, there isn’t much to give give the game away. Remove the boot badges and you really can hide the blistering performance that these cars are capable of. We once fitted a vintage rocking chair in the back of an E55 AMG Estate, along with 2 kids, 2 adults and a all necessary family essentials for a day at the beach. Just a wonderful piece of German engineering. You’ve got kids, you don’t need 5.5 litres of V8 muscle… but why on earth not? Life is short, after all, and too short to drive boring cars.

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Mercedes C32 AMG Estate (w203 variant, 2000 to 2007)

3.2 litre V6, 354 bhp, 0-60 5.2 seconds, 155 mph top speed (limited)

Currently starting around £5,500

It almost doesn’t seem right for an AMG Mercedes-Benz to be without V8 power, but as BMW were selling shed loads of 3.2 litre M3s, Mercedes had to act… Hence the 3.2 litre C32. The lighter V6 engine made it quicker off the mark, but for those of us who just love the noise and wallop that a hulking great V8 provides, it just doesn’t quite cut the mustard. Still, it’s quicker and more fun than a Ford Focus Diesel.

Mercedes C55 AMG Estate (w203 variant, 2000 to 2007)

5.5 litre V8, 354 bhp, 0-60 5.4 seconds, 155 mph top speed (limited)

Currently starting around £6,500

The C55 was the C Class Estate but with the larger displacement V8 which featured in the W210…. But these are rare. Just 55 examples made it to the UK. They rust, badly, so finding a good one is never going to be easy. In fact, if you’ve got one for sale, do get in touch.

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Subaru Impreza Turbo Wagon (First or Second Generation)

2.0 litre or 2.5 litre turbo and about 270 bhp, depending on which of the many special editions you choose… They’re all quick.

It might be one of the smaller wagons featured here, but the Subaru Impreza Turbo Wagon should definitely be on your list. With that rally heritage, a super sweet turbo charged engine and oodles of Japanese reliability, there’s a lot to love with an Impreza. Go on, put aside the image problems and the fact that the interior is really a bit naff and go be Colin McRae for a bit. Just don’t put a big exhaust on it, because you WILL look like a twat.

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Volvo 850 T5 / T5-R / R Estate (mk1, 1991 to 1996)

850 T5 2.0 litre 5 cylinder turbo, 210 bhp, 0-60 7.7 seconds, 143 mph top speed
850 T5 2.3  litre 5 cylinder turbo, 225 bhp, 0-60 7.4 seconds, 149 mph top speed
850 T5-R 2.4 litre 5 cylinder turbo, 243 bhp, 0-60 6.9 seconds, 152 mph top speed
850 R 2.4 litre 5 cylinder turbo, 250 bhp, 0-60 6.7 seconds, 158 mph top speed

Currently starting around £1,000

In many ways, the Volvo 850 is where fast estate cars really began. Oh wait, no it isn’t, remember the Volvo 740 Turbo? Yup. That’s where it all started. We love the Volvo 850. If you’ve got one with less than 100,000 miles on the clock, do get in touch… All the ones we find on eBay for play money seem to have gone to the moon and back. Although isn’t that what a Volvo is all about? Dependability, reliability, longevity and all that.

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Volvo V70 R AWD Estate (2000 model year)

2.4 litre 5 cylinder turbo, 265 bhp, 0-60 7 seconds, 152 mph top speed)

For the 2000 model year, Volvo upped the ante and gave the V70 R 265 bhp. Not bad for a car that essentially still resembled a wedge stuck in a box. It’s around about this time that Volvo got to the end of the road with the whole ‘marketing fast cars on the success of the 850 touring cars’ gig, and things started to get boring. So we haven’t featured any newer Volvos in this roundup.


And the other contenders…

Ford Mondeo ST24  / ST200 / ST220 Estate

Not so much a Fast Ford as a fairly quick one. Can’t shake that Ford image. Can’t find ST24s, at all, can’t find ST200s with no rust. ST220 it’ll be then.

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Skoda Octavia V-RS Estate

One day a man from Volkswagen owned Skoda was strolling around a Volkswagen owned Audi factory. “What are all those?” said Skoda man to Audi Man, pointing at a pile of boxes. “Oh, they’re 1.8 litre 180bhp engines for the TT, everyone keeps ordering it with the 225bhp lump so they’re sort of just sat there” replied Audi Man. “Hmmm” said Skoda man…. Right, I’ve got an idea”

Two weeks later the Octavia V-RS was born. (We’re fairly sure this is a true story, a man from Skoda told us about 15 years ago)

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Volkswagen Passat R36 (b6 variant, 2005 to 2014)

3.6 litre V6, 298 bhp, 0-60 5.8 seconds, 155 mph top speed (limited)

Currently starting around £9,500

The R36 was exclusive to Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. With a 3.6-litre V6 engine and 296 bhp, it just about sneaks into our roundup of fast estate cars. There hard to find in estate form, especially below our second-hand-ford-focus price bracket, but occasionally they pop up around £10,000, so well worth considering. Still a Passat though.

Think we’ve missed any fast estate cars out? Contact us!

2 responses to “Fast Estate Cars – Alternatives to that Boring Diesel Family Car You’re Considering

  1. Pingback: True Story: How the Skoda VRS Came About | goodshoutmedia·

  2. Pingback: Pimp Your Ride! How To Turn Your Old Clunker Into A Serious Cruiser | goodshoutmedia·

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