SUVs have swallowed the family car market whole and I'm a little bit worried my favourite car genre will become a forgotten relic and nothing more than a fond memory of a better time. Of course, I am talking about the fast estate (or wagon for my American friends). Any family that had an estate with an unnecessary amount of power was immediately cool in my eyes.
Young parenthood can be a daunting prospect, but the family car that can keep up with the best performance cars the suburbs has to offer just lets everyone know that your soul hasn't left your body.
We all know the best rapid wagons come from Germany. You have the three powerhouse brands ready to offer you a family trip at 200mph on the autobahn in your delimited RS6 Avant, M5 Touring or C63 estate. However, we all know about these and I want to delve into the lesser known world of extreme estates.
So, gather the family around the screen and let me show you how your trip to IKEA doesn't have to have revolve around deciding what mundane music to play, but how loud mummy and daddy can make the engine scream.
11) VW Passat R36 Estate
We're off to a good start here guys if I don't say so myself. Who doesn't love a Passat. None of this Golf estate business for me. If you want an estate have the courage to commit to a full on Passat or we can't be friends. I could have selected the W8 4motion or the classic VR6, but I think the 2006 R36 has the design subtly perfected. A respectable 0-60mph time of 6.6 secs will be enough to comically shove the ice cream cone into your child's face.
10) Lexus IS300 Sport Cross
A little bit slower than the R36, but capable enough. The Lexus IS300 Sport Cross has a smooth as silk 3.0-litre engine that can waft from 0-60mph in 8.4 seconds. The best thing about the IS300 is its driving feel. The 'estateness' isn't too dramatic as its almost like an extended hatchback. This means it has much better handling through corners than most on this list.
9) Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake
I think it's fair to say Jaguar have been on form with their performance cars of late. In the middle of this rich form is an estate that can hit 186mph (limited) and get from 0-60mph in just 4.4 seconds. Why shout at the kids to sit still in the back when you can just pin them back with a prod of the accelerator?
8) Mitsubishi Legnum VR-4
The 2.5-litre V6 propelled this aggressive looking estate from 0-60mph in 5.9 seconds. An impressive figure back in 2000. The VR-4 was like my family secret. My uncle received one as a replacement whilst his Jaguar S-Type Bi-turbo was being fixed and he couldn't stop waxing lyrical about how good it was. And so, the VR-4 has been imbedded in my mind as an underrated masterpiece.
7) Cadillac CTS-V wagon
This was the car where Cadillac turned Europe's head. 0-60mph in a whopping 4.0 seconds and 556HP from the 6.2-litre engine should be enough complete the school run before your kids have a chance to complain. Perfect.
6) Ford Mondeo ST220 Estate
I'm still waiting for the market to realise how cool the 3.0-litre Mondeo ST220 estate really is. It is a gorgeous piece of kit. However, for some reason prices have stayed well below £5,000 in the UK.
5) Skoda Octavia vRS Estate
I think we can all put Skoda's primitive reputation for producing cars seen as the running joke of the industry. After VW improved the build quality and reliability, the styling has followed suit and we are treated to cars such as the aggressive Octavia vRS estate.
4) MG ZT Estate
Looks alright doesn't it? Oh, what's that? It has a bloody 4.6-litre V8 under that bonnet? You bet your flat-cap wearing nose hair it does. For a brief period of time MG was looking like a contender, but then in true British fashion, it all went wrong. At least we were left with this utterly magnificent beast.
3) Alpina B5 Bi-Turbo
OK, a little bit of a cheat here. Just for this list I'm going to pretend Alpina has nothing to do with BMW who I promised not to mention. However, I'm a dirty liar so you're going to have to deal with it. The Alpina B5 Bi-Turbo has eye-watering performance getting from 0-60mph in just 3.6 seconds! I think you can forgive me for including it now…
2) Alfa Romeo 156 GTA Sportwagon
If the 156 GTA Sportwagon manages to get your kids to school without breaking down, then you've arrived in the sexiest car on the list. Just the wheels alone give me butterflies. If the other parents aren't impressed, just lift up the bonnet and watch the bodies hit the floor.
1) Volvo V60 Polestar
This is the estate that ticks all the boxes.
– Safety – It's a Volvo – Check
– Performance – 0-60mph in 4.8 seconds – Check
– Style – …it's Swedish – Check
– Feeling like you're starring in your very own Swedish detective series – Check