Top 10 best fast estates 2023
These are the best fast estates to choose if you've got a load on your mind and don't want to hang around
While many enthusiasts love the idea of owning a different car for every occasion, the harsh reality of life is that most of us have to make do with just the one. Finding a single car to do it all can be difficult – especially if having fun behind the wheel is an important consideration.
Thankfully, car manufacturers have cottoned on to the fact that many people want to own a practical family car that’s also fast and fun to drive. The very best examples even take fuel economy and running costs into account. While performance SUVs are getting more popular, there are still a host of great fast estates.
The following models are our pick of the very best performance estate cars, as determined by our rating system, which takes all aspects of ownership into account. Hot-hatch-based models feature heavily, with a choice of petrol or diesel power in some cases, along with some more specialised machinery capable of giving supercars a run for their money.
The fourth-generation Skoda Octavia vRS estate has succeeded in retaining the key elements that made its predecessors so brilliant, including a near-perfect blend of performance, practicality and usability. The latest model is available with a turbocharged petrol engine, a plug-in hybrid powertrain, and a punchy-yet-frugal diesel.
The new vRS shares its underpinnings and engines with the Mk8 Golf GTI, GTD and GTE models, with every version offering brisk performance and an agile chassis that’s easy to have fun with on your favourite road. It’s also competitively priced, with a sporty high-tech interior and vast boot helping to make it the pick of the bunch.
BMW doesn’t yet offer an M3 estate but it does offer a range-topping 3 Series Touring that should be plenty for most buyers. The M340i xDrive produces 369bhp from its 3.0-litre engine, and launches from 0-62mph in just 4.5 seconds.
There are very few estates that are faster for a similar price, and you can make the car look very subtle if you’re a fan of understated performance cars. Plus, the back seats and the boot are spacious and there’s lots of equipment. There’s also a fairly rapid 330e plug-in hybrid if you want lower running costs.
The future is electric and it looks brighter with the arrival of the outstanding Porsche Taycan, Porsche’s first electric car. There’s now a Cross Turismo version if you need a little more space. Not only is it an estate but it’s jacked up slightly and has SUV-like wheel arch additions for a slightly more rugged look.
All are four-wheel drive, with enough speed to ensure it deserves a place on this list. The top-spec Turbo S version produces up to 750bhp and gets from 0-62mph in a breathless 2.9 seconds. Even the least powerful version can outsprint a hot hatch.
The Ford Focus ST Estate is back for a second generation and is a real rival to the VW Group cars above. Like the last model, it drives sweetly, and both petrol and diesel engines are much more powerful than before.
The ST also remains a comfortable family car when you’re not driving it quickly, thanks in part to supportive Recaro seats. The interior is more spacious and more modern, and a huge boot also counts in its favour.
The 415bhp you get in the Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 S Shooting Brake isn’t enough to trouble the most powerful cars on this list, but the CLA is one of the smallest cars here so that power goes a long way. Shared with the most potent A-Class, this engine allows the stylish CLA estate to get from 0-62mph in just four seconds. Just as impressive is the chassis, which delivers impressive agility and four-wheel drive security.
It’s barely more practical than a big hatchback and the ride is firm, but CLA buyers would choose something else if outright luggage capacity and luxurious comfort were top priorities. It’s more versatile than the A-Class, at least, plus when you’re driving it all thoughts of space and practicality will evaporate.
Supercar-like straight-line speed, business-class luxury and one of the most raucous exhaust notes on this list make the E63 a compelling choice.
Four-wheel drive comes as standard, as does a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine with 563bhp – or 604bhp if you opt for the E63 S. The result is a two-tonne estate that’s as quick to 62mph from rest as a Ferrari Portofino – although far more practical and arguably no less dramatic.
If the Peugeot Sport Engineered version of the 508 passed you by, then that’s hardly a surprise. Besides sporty-looking green accents and larger wheels, the 508 PSE looks much the same as standard 508 SW models. Yet underneath its stylish yet subtle skin the Peugeot packs a 355bhp plug-in hybrid powertrain.
It’s very quick in a straight line, and great through the corners as well. It’s impressively composed on broken tarmac and characterful as well, managing to hide the relatively portly weight of the hybrid system (which does at least give you an EV range of 26 miles). The fast 508 is a welcome riposte to the usual German brands in this list.
If you want your small executive estate to hold its own against much more exotic machinery, it’s hard to ignore the Audi RS4.
Thanks to its twin-turbocharged 2.9-litre V6 petrol engine and quattro four-wheel-drive system, the RS4 can cover 0-62mph in just 4.1 seconds – beating the Porsche 911 Carrera T and Maserati GranTurismo MC with ease. As well as being highly potent, the RS4 can also be set up at will to be a cosseting cruiser.
The Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo's rakish ‘shooting brake’ looks set it apart in this company, offering a dash of style for those who just need a little extra space than the standard car’s five-door hatchback layout.
There’s a big range of engines to choose from, all of which offer plenty of performance – even the plug-in hybrid variants. If it’s outright pace you’re after, the fastest model is electrified – the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid. Thanks to its 4.0-litre V8 and electric motor with a combined 671bhp, 0-62mph takes just 3.5 seconds, while a top speed of 192mph makes it one of the fastest estates on this list.
The Audi RS6 is a direct rival to the Mercedes-AMG E63 Estate elsewhere on this list. Available only in estate form, the RS6 is powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine with a staggering 592bhp.
Audi’s quattro four-wheel-drive system is used to great effect to put all of that power to the road with surprisingly little fuss – the result being 0-62mph in 3.6 seconds in the car's most powerful form. In-gear acceleration is similarly prodigious, making overtaking an almost instantaneous process. Price, emissions and running costs count against the RS6, however – as does its rather detached driving experience.
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