Where are the cool wagons?
I'm on a quest to find the best possible family estate
A recent article on Drivetribe stated that Super Wagons are the coolest cars ever, which I tend to agree with. Nothing is cooler than a faster than light, practical car. It literally is the best of both worlds.
Now, to be honest, not everybody can blow 130’000 EUR in a car.
What it’s the point of that article you might ask? Well, as many men will experience in their lives, I too became a dad recently.
That life-changing event, brought happiness, as much as it brought conflicting thoughts in my car-enthusiast mind. See, at first I thought we would be fine with our city car, so I was on my merry way to buy a 2+2 coupe (most probably a GT86).
If you had kids, you must be laughing at my previous sentence, because boy was I wrong…
First, 2-doors cars are out of the window with a child seat, so my beloved GT86 will have to wait a couple of years before being in my garage.
Second, the smaller a child is, the more space it takes. Therefore, any car with under 450 liters of cargo space is not an option.
I twisted the question every way I could, and there’s no way around it; we need a bigger car.
Hot hatchbacks won’t do the trick; cargo space not being big enough - I think only the Civic Type R is acceptable.
Since buying an SUV is unthinkable for the car enthusiast I am, and MPVs are a sign that you gave up trying in life, only one option really makes sense: a wagon! (or estate, or break, or touring – whichever suits your linguistic codes).
They are usually smart looking, and offer you the same performance as a saloon car, but in a way more practical package.
And here lies the main issue: finding a cool one.
Of course, if you have very deep pockets, you go buy an RS6 and call it a day, this article is not going to make sense to you.
Problem is, when you are willing to spend anywhere up to 30'000 EUR, your options are rather limited and are split between 3 categories, which I shall elaborate right now:
The ‘reasonable’ one
These are the ones you buy when you are the average Joe that sees cars as a means of transportation only.
The type of person that makes his decisions based on a comparaison he made in an Excel sheet, with fuel economy, options, lease cost, potential resale value.
We call that a grown-up, someone who has his ducks in a row, his life sorted.
I call that boring, I am not reckless but I think cars are better than a list of parameters on an Excel sheet.
This is the category where you find cars like the Mazda 6, Skoda Octavia, Renault Megane and Talisman, and the king of them all - The Passat !
Needless to say that none of them really interest me, and the idea of spending a lot of money into one of them makes me cringe.
But it seems to be what is expected from you when you are a dad. Or is it?
What a great reasonable car, tells your neighbors good things about you, doesn’t it?
The ‘money-pits’ ones.
Or as I like to call them, the cool ones!
Depreciation done an amazing job on them and their ‘rolling time ticking bombs’ status and opens up tons of opportunities for you!
Did you know that you could buy a V10 Audi S6 with only 120.000 kms for 17’000 EUR? How about a Twin Turbo V8 Mercedes Benz E500 W212 for 22’000 EUR with only 135.000kms on the clock? Or a Mercedes Benz C63 AMG W204 for 28’000 EUR, surely this is a good purchase, right?
Problem is, these cars can be as cool as you want, maintenance is the monster in the closet. Do you really want an aging, maintenance heavy car to be the one you rely on to transport your family? The thought of spending thousands of Euros each time something goes wrong is soul-shattering.
These cars were high maintenance when new, they are still high maintenance today, except the warranty has run out, so you’re on your own. If something goes wrong, it could mean the holidays budget will be drained, but if you don’t fix the damn thing, you might not even have a car to go on holidays with!
The 15 year old in me thinks I should go for one of these regardless, that it will be a fun ride while it lasts. The 30 years old me thinks that I should stay clear from them.
Probably the coolest daddy’s car, if you used to be a hooligan.
The ‘best of both worlds’ ones
In this category you find cars like the Octavia RS Combi, the Golf R Variant, S4 Avant, Leon Cupra ST, Focus ST Turnier and so on.
Basically wagon versions of hot hatches, which seem very nice on paper, but in reality, they are the most conflicting ones of the bunch.
Sure they are practical, and some of them are really cool. The only issue I can see is that they occupy a price point where they have to compete with the money-pits ones. Which means that at some point, in a conversation, one of your buddies is going to say: ‘Yeah, your Focus ST is cool, but you could have gotten a V10 S6 instead’.
You’ll come up with tons of arguments, like the maintenance being reasonable, gas mileage being correct, gadgets and so on. But deep down you know, you know that you would have enjoyed that V10 S6 way more.
Truth be told, the current Focus ST is my favourite hot hatch.
The sad truth is, there are not that many options out there for interesting, affordable wagons because they are being replaced by SUVs. As they say, if you can’t beat them, join them. Should I buy a SUV then?
What would you do? What would be your affordable family car of choice?
Let me know in the comments below.