Top 3 used estate cars for £10,000
“Dear CarBuyer, I want a good family estate car for a budget of £10,000 - what do you recommend?”
The traditional estate car has long had a loyal following among UK buyers. SUVs may dominate the sales charts but many buyers still look to an estate to act as a practical, reliable and affordable everyday workhorse.
With a number of new models and a huge variety of estate cars on the used market, there’s plenty of choice, meaning that you can reap the benefits of an estate while making some big savings too. While the increased dimensions of an estate car mean they’re slightly heavier than a hatchback, they typically share the same platform and engine range, meaning the driving experience and fuel economy are very similar.
Even with the rise of the SUV, there are plenty of new estates to choose from. Renault offers the Megane Sport Tourer, while the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports estate is one of the few hybrid load-luggers on offer. German manufacturers continue to offer estate versions of their best-selling hatchbacks as well, such as the Volkswagen Golf Estate.
Brand new cars are, of course, expensive but a relatively modest budget of £10,000 can go a very long way on the used market. Read on to see our favourite picks.
The practical choice: Skoda Octavia Estate
For: great practicality, efficient, good equipment Against: conservative design, some cheap cabin plastics
The Skoda Octavia is a car that is great at covering all the bases; space, plenty of equipment, a comfortable interior and fuel-efficiency across the engine range. Even performance is covered with the hotter VRS model.
The third-generation Octavia estate is the one you will most likely find in this price range. We found a 2015 105bhp 1.6-litre TDI CR SE automatic with 55,000 miles for £9,790.
Facelifted third-generation Octavia estates came as standard with alloy wheels, climate control, an eight-speaker stereo and an eight-inch infotainment screen. The Octavia also has the largest boot on this list, with a maximum capacity of 1,740 litres.
Skoda offered a broad range of engines in the Octavia. The 138bhp 1.4 tsi four-cylinder petrol is a punchy unit that will go from 0-62mph in just over eight seconds, but diesel models are far more common. The 148bhp 2.0-litre TDI offers similar performance, but with 50mpg-plus economy.
The driver’s choice: Ford Focus Estate
For: neat styling, fun to drive, reasonably priced Against: dated dashboard, not the most spacious
This third-generation Focus estate is a stalwart of business fleets across the country – it offers strong value too, with low-mileage, reasonably specced examples found in relative abundance. It doesn't have the outright carrying capacity of the Skoda but it’s more engaging to drive, and arguably more stylish.
We found a 2015 1.6-litre diesel in Zetec trim with less than 60,000 miles on the clock for less than £8,000. Choice is rather plentiful so other variations do make an appearance, including petrol models.
Like the Skoda, the third-generation Focus estate was available with an eight-inch infotainment system but some versions make do with a 4.2-inch display. The rest of the Focus’s interior is well built, albeit with a busier design than the Octavia's.
The Focus is the sharpest car here, with handling that’s almost indistinguishable from the hatchback’s. It can be fast, too; the 247bhp 2.0-litre ST (which can make the occasional appearance within budget) will hit 0-62mph in around 6.5 seconds, and the 180bhp 1.5-litre petrol will do the same sprint in 8.8 seconds.
The newest choice: Hyundai i30 Tourer
For: good value, comfortable, newest model here Against: so-so handling, limited engine range
The second-generation i30 tourer makes up for its slightly lacklustre driving experience with a huge amount of equipment; even base models come with cruise control and autonomous emergency braking, while the interior is light years ahead of its predecessor’s.
We found a 2016 example of the 1.6 CRDi Blue Drive model in SE Nav trim with just over 30,000 miles on the clock for under £10,000.
Hyundai loaded the i30 with technology, with this mid-range SE Nav trim featuring parking sensors, a reversing camera, automatic headlamps and an eight-inch touchscreen. The Tourer also has a decent-sized boot, with a maximum capacity of 1,650 litres.
It may be the least engaging car here, but the i30’s comfortable suspension and gutsy diesel mean it’s suited to motorway driving. Hyundai’s 134bhp 1.6-litre four-cylinder is capable of returning fuel economy of up to 65.7mpg – and there’s a healthy 300nm on offer, making it ideal for carrying passengers or luggage.
Carbuyer’s choice, as picked by deputy editor Ben Hodges - Skoda Octavia Estate
All of our used estate car picks are very capable cars but I’d go for the Octavia Estate. It’s the most practical of the three, with a decent choice of frugal diesel engines and an excellent list of standard equipment.
While the Octavia does fall short of the Focus Estate when it comes to the driving experience, its ability to accommodate an entire family plus the dog is unbeatable; it has the biggest boot and more space for rear passengers. While the petrol and diesel engine line-up isn’t hugely exciting, the engines are relatively cheap to run and maintain, and they’re refined on longer journeys. Add to this that every Octavia is well-equipped and the interior is smart and solidly built, and you have a great all-rounder.
To read our picks for the best family cars to buy, read our top 10 here.