Estates, (station) wagons, load-luggers, shooting brakes – call them what you will, these are among the most practical cars on sale. Usually based on existing hatchback or saloon models, the basic principle here is to provide as much boot space as possible, which means extending the overall roofline and putting a large hatch at the back of the vehicle. As a happy by-product, this makes them among the coolest cars on sale today; most people love an estate, especially if it’s a very fast one.
Below you’ll find the most popular estates you can lease today – but, for the purposes of absolute clarity, we’re not including crossover-SUVs or full SUVs here, even though technically they can all class as estates (just high-riding ones); we’ve already done a rundown of the best crossovers and SUVs to help you make the perfect choice.
Anyway, when it comes to ‘true’ estates of all sizes, there are lots to choose from, so we’ve separated them into categories that you can quickly jump to if you’re especially interested in a certain type.
A couple of rare-breed cars in here, which are estates based on supermini-sized hatchbacks – there used to be more of these years ago, like the Renault Clio Sport Tourer, the Peugeot 207 SW, the SEAT Ibiza ST and the Volkswagen Polo Estate, but nowadays there are just 2. We’ve also included a value offering from the class above, representing one of the cheapest ways to get into a slightly larger estate car.
1. MINI Clubman
Arguably one of the most fashion-conscious cars on the entire list. The second-generation Clubman is based on the MINI Hatch but has 4 full-sized doors into the passenger compartment (the Mk1 did not, instead having an odd ‘suicide’ rear door on one side only) as well as a pair of side-hinged ‘barn doors’ to access the 360-litre boot. Factor in MINI personalisation options and the quality dashboard, and this is a cracking small estate car to go for.
2. Skoda Fabia Estate
The Skoda Fabia Estate is the only pragmatic estate still going which is based on a supermini. Based on the third-generation Fabia, there are only fairly modest small petrol and diesel engines to choose from in the Skoda wagon, while the interior is nicely built if a bit dull. However, with a whopping 530-litre boot out the back, there’s definitely a comparison between this Fabia Estate and the fabled Tardis to be made.
3. Fiat Tipo Station Wagon
Fiat’s revived Tipo hatchback is a bargain alternative to the compact hatch competitors and the same value-for-money formula holds true when the Italian car becomes a wagon. It has a 550-litre boot, a decently capacious passenger cabin and a fairly plain, no-nonsense dashboard. If what you need is practicality more than style for an affordable monthly leasing price, the Tipo could be the wagon for you.
Most of the models listed here are based on midsized hatchbacks and so are pretty capacious when turned into wagons, while there’s even a premium choice available from one of the big German marques if you fancy it.
1. Skoda Octavia Estate
Vast. Absolutely vast. Considering the Skoda Octavia is based on the same platform as a Volkswagen Golf, the fact this Estate model can cram a minimum of 640 litres of stuff into its boot is testament to how well the Czech company maximises the space on offer. In Mk4 format, the Octavia Estate also looks sharp on the outside and has a magnificent interior. Hard to beat.
2. Toyota Corolla Touring Sports
Don’t be put off by the boring old Corolla name – this Toyota Touring Sports model has youthful exterior styling, as well as an interior which is both well-made and easy on the eye. A couple of hybrid drivetrains are also available, with our recommendation being the punchier 2.0-litre option, and you’ll enjoy a 581-litre boot with all 5 seats in play too.
3. Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake
You’re not paying for outright carrying capacity here – as the Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake only offers up 495 litres, due to its swoopy roofline – but rather the cachet of having something so overtly stylish and premium on your driveway. Various sensible petrol and diesel engines are available, but there are also 2 high-performance, all-wheel-drive derivatives from Mercedes-AMG: one with 306hp and another with a colossal 421hp. This latter car is not cheap, but it is enormous fun.
4. Renault Megane Sport Tourer
Simple, straightforward family motoring. The Megane Sport Tourer does everything well and nothing badly, with a sensible two-spec trim line and some admirably smooth turbocharged petrol and diesel engines. There’s a 521-litre boot out at the back and also a 5-year, 100,000-mile warranty as back-up for full peace of mind, too.
5. Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer
Now Vauxhall has killed off the larger Insignia Sports Tourer, the Astra wagon is its last true estate car. Luckily, it’s a very good one. You have to put up with a dark interior, seemingly Vauxhall’s trademark, but the actual quality of the cabin is very good and there’s plenty of space for 5 adults – as well as a 540-litre boot to swallow all their clobber. The Vauxhall’s real strength is its chassis, though, as this generation of Astra is decent to drive.
Also Check Out:
- Volkswagen Golf Estate
- Ford Focus Estate
- SEAT Leon Estate
Some mixing of the wagon streams here, as some of the vehicles listed are physical larger but perhaps from more mainstream brands, while others are premium estates that favour styling and prestige over outright practicality. Either way, these are properly big load-luggers that should meet any family’s needs.
1 . BMW 3 Series Touring
Few cars do it better than the BMW 3 Series Touring. You get all the dynamic goodness and impeccable refinement of the German saloon in the Touring, only with a 500-litre boot at the back. There are all sorts of engine choices, including a plug-in hybrid and no fewer than 3 performance variants, so if you want a quality all-round estate, this BMW is the one to go for.
2. Skoda Superb Estate
The Skoda Superb is so big that it outstrips everything on this list for boot capacity. There’s 660 litres on offer with a full complement of humans onboard, rising to a colossal 1,950 litres if you fold the rear row of seats down. Frankly, with that sort of volume available, the Superb Estate could probably get away with being a bit duff to drive – but it isn’t. It’s refined, has strong engines, comes with loads of kit, and looks really good outside and in.
3. Volvo V60
Time was when Volvo estates were boxy and boring, but no longer. The V60 is a svelte, Swedish stunner, complete with a cracking cabin and some powerful hybrid drivetrains. Its sloped rear windscreen cuts boot volume a touch to 529 litres with all seats in place, but don’t let that put you off – the urbane V60 is a smashing machine, all things considered.
4. Audi A4 Avant
Understated elegance is what the Audi A4 Avant offers. In typical Volkswagen Group fashion, the A4 Avant has superb drivetrains available to it, as well as some high-power options too – these coming in the form of the diesel S4 or the 450hp petrol RS 4. Front- and quattro all-wheel drive are both offered, meaning there should be an A4 Avant model available to suit every possible need.
5. Peugeot 508 SW
Probably one of the finest-looking wagons on sale today, maybe ever. Peugeot’s 508 SW doesn’t offer the biggest boot going by providing a minimum of 530 litres of stowage, but its smart i-Cockpit interior and broad range of hybrid drivetrains ensure the French car is a forward-thinking vehicle. Go for the Peugeot Sport Engineered model with 360hp and you have the most powerful road car Peugeot has ever built.
Also Check Out:
- Ford Mondeo Estate
- Mercedes C-Class Estate
- Volkswagen Passat Estate
This class is dominated by the more expensive estates to lease, which might not necessarily have the largest boots but which offer the manners of a luxury executive-class car in the body of a family wagon – so for travelling places in the utmost of style, these are the estates to consider.
1. BMW 5 Series Touring
We said nobody does it better than the BMW 3 Series Touring but we were wrong. BMW does it slightly better with this, the larger 5 Series Touring which is blessed with a 570-litre boot. Comes with an array of powerful yet efficient engines, has a comfortable and accommodating interior, and yet still drives with all the verve you’d expect of a BMW. The only slight issue is that the company refuses to do an M5 Touring, really.
2. Audi A6 Allroad
There’s a regular A6 Avant range which is brilliant enough, and which culminates with a ferocious 600hp version called the RS 6 Avant, but we prefer the allroad. This is the lifestyle version of Audi’s large estate, with extra body cladding, a higher ride height and – crucially – longer-travel, softer suspension. This makes the allroad an epic cruiser, while muscular V6 turbodiesel and petrol engines provide fulsome performance. You also enjoy 565 litres of boot space in this big off-road Avant.
3. Volvo V90
More swish Scandi style from Volvo with the V90. Again, like the smaller V60, this is not a Volvo wagon in the traditional sense, one which will swallow a wardrobe with little difficulty, but even so a 560-litre boot is not to be sniffed at. Nor is the V90’s simply exquisite interior, which is a simply wonderful place to have to spend some time. Powerful engines culminate in a T8 plug-in hybrid with 390hp, which is… nice.
4. Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake
The Volkswagen Passat we mentioned at the end of the section on medium estates is actually larger and more capacious than this rakish Arteon Shooting Brake, but it’s the latter which competes in this class because it is a more desirable, upmarket creation. Sublime bodywork clothes a quality cabin and a 565-litre boot, so while those who need to cart large items around regularly might want to avoid the Shooting Brake, this is most definitely an estate for the aesthetes of this world.
5. Jaguar XF Sportbrake
Jaguar’s XF model line was getting a bit long in the tooth in the late 2010s but a midlife update for 2020 improved things no end and thus the XF Sportbrake is still worthy of serious consideration. Much-improved infotainment on a curved touchscreen is the centrepiece of the interior, while the boot will swallow 565 litres of junk if you so need it to. Like the BMW alternatives mentioned here, the Jaguar places great emphasis on still being fun to drive, despite its estate body.
Also Check Out
- Audi A6 Avant
- Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate
- Prestige Estates
There’s a hyper-rare breed of estates above the executive level, although there are few players regularly operating in such a market. Here are three examples of these ultimate load-luggers.
1. Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo
Porsche is the main entrant in this rarefied class, its best effort being this Swiss Army knife of a machine. The Taycan Cross Turismo is an estate, an SUV, a luxury saloon, a sports car and an electric vehicle (EV) all rolled into one. What’s brilliant about it is that it manages to be a master of all these trades, rather than over-reaching itself and excelling at none of them. It’s not cheap to lease but it is cheap to tax and run as it’s purely electric – and you can have up to 761hp from it if you so desire!
2. Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
For the more conventional among you, if the Taycan Cross Turismo EV is too daring then the Panamera has combustion power for you to choose. All the engines are petrol and all of them range from ‘reasonably’ to ‘ridiculously’ powerful, while there are no fewer than 3 plug-in hybrids to go at. The most potent of these, the Turbo S E-Hybrid, has a combined 700hp and yet can run on its electric motors alone for up to 31 miles.
3. Ferrari GTC4 Lusso
Choose from a V12 engine or a twin-turbo V8, but either way (and as you’d expect) Ferrari’s ‘estate’ car is blindingly quick. It’s also quirky, having an unusual four-wheel-drive system that only works up to fourth gear (when the car becomes rear-wheel drive) and only boasting 2 passenger doors instead of the usual 4. That said, if you want to have the world’s ultimate estate, then this GTC4 Lusso is surely it.
Looking for more top choices if you need plenty of storage space? Take a look at our guide to top cars for boot space.