Top ten best estate cars for 2011

An estate car often comes under many different names, most often along the lines of Sport Tourer or Station Wagon, but the design is often strikingly similar.

Estate cars are notable for their large, extended boots designed to offer more load space both lengthways and in terms of height.

Their advantages are clear for all to see: often based on successful hatchbacks, the estate often delivers all the handling characteristics of its sibling but with added practicality for both families and business.

Below we’ve listed the best estates for 2011 in our handy guide.

1) Ford Focus Estate

The Ford Focus Estate is a class-leader and in the case of the new 2011 model, it is easy to see why.

Starting from £17,100, the Ford Focus Estate features all the handling and responsiveness of the hatchback with a vast boot capable of storing up to 1,500 litres of luggage with the rear seats folded.

Plus, Ford has included a vast array of equipment as standard, including digital DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity and handy aluminium roof rails.

Engines range from sprightly petrol (the 1.6-litre EcoBoost is the pick of them) and frugal diesels – the 1.6-litre diesel engine offers CO2 emissions of 109g/km, enough for £30 road tax in the UK.

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2) Vauxhall Astra ST

Ford isn’t the only manufacturer to launch a new estate version of a popular hatchback this year.

Its perennial arch-nemesis Vauxhall has also introduced the new Vauxhall Astra ST, and the gap between the two is smaller than ever.

Based on the Astra hatchback and built at the Ellesmere Port plant in Cheshire, the Astra ST adds practicality to the rapidly improving hatchback variant.

500 litres is a generous load area with the seats up and the clever ‘flexfold’ seating system trumps the Ford in terms of ease of use and clever use of space.

Inside, the Astra ST is more modern and well-equipped than ever, and Vauxhall’s range of ecoFLEX engines provide low CO2 emissions and high economy – a surefire winner with hard-hit families.

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3) Seat Ibiza ST

Who says estates have to be dull? The Seat Ibiza ST leads the way in terms of style with a superb little estate which offers an enticing alternative to stuffy, boxy people careers.

Instead, the attractive car uses all Seat’s styling know-how to create a low-slung model that still manages to swallow 480-litres in the boot without sacrificing its looks.

It weighs more than the five-door hatchback, but the ride and handling is not affected in any way.

Since it was only released last year, the Seat Ibiza ST is modern inside, with high quality materials and a range of capable engines from parent company Volkswagen.

At around £15,000, the Seat Ibiza ST also represents a bargain, showing once again a balance can be struck between style, practicality and price.

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4) Kia Cee’d Estate

The Kia Cee’d is the value option in our top ten best estates guide. This should not be confused with cheap, however, because the Kia Cee’d is a good car in its own right.

For example, boot space of 534 litres is as good as any rivals, and this opens up to a vast 1,664 litres with the rear seats folded.

There is no sacrifice in quality, either. Inside the materials are durable and well put together, and equipment is surprisingly generous across all trim levels.

The Kia Cee’d Estate (or SW) seems to have the whole package for very little cost. It may not be the most stylish on the market, but with process starting from £15,000 and that fantastic seven year warranty, it could just be our favourite estate on the market today.

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5) Renault Megane Sport Tourer

Another estate to take the name Sport Tourer, the Renault Megane is a popular choice in the UK because it boasts the same sharp looks at the hatchback and coupe versions of the car.

Sleek lines and a tapering rear end help to give the Megane Sport Tourer a sportier look than others on the market, and this is matched inside with a comfortable and well-equipped interior.

Engine choices range from a 1.6-litre petrol to a selection of excellent diesel options, and CO2 emissions can be found reaching almost as low as 105g/km.

Where the Renault Megane Sport Tourer really stands up to key rivals however, is in the amount of equipment offered, including the generous TomTom specifications which throw satellite navigation in with the price of the car.

Priced from as low as £12,600 for the new entry-level Bizu editions, the Renault Megane shouldn’t be overlooked in the hunt for the best estate.

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6) Peugeot 308 SW

The Peugeot 308 SW has been updated for 2011 with a more raked front end, LED headlamps and the inclusion of daytime running lights for the first time.

However, Peugeot did not stop there. It also cut the weight of the car and added extras such as low rolling resistance tyres, more efficient engines and in the case of the 1.6-litre diesel, an electronic start-stop micro hybrid system pulling CO2 emissions down to a VED-free 98g/km from next year.

The Peugeot 308 is a superb hatchback, and the estate version retains the style but adds a practical rear end.

Access, SR, Active and Allure trim levels are well equipped, but the real benefit of choosing a Peugeot 308 SW is in the new and improved running costs, which measure up to any in the segment at the moment.

Priced from £15,245, the new Peugeot 308 SW is available to buy now.

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7) Citroen C5 Tourer

All of the above estate cars have one thing in common – they are all small, compact estate cars often based on hatchback versions of the same model.

The Citroen C5 Tourer, however, is built on a family-size saloon and as such, offers a huge amount of space in the rear compared to the smaller estates on the market.

Based on the elegant C5 saloon, the estate version offers 505 litres of boot space but also adds plenty of passenger room and other nice features such as a lowering suspension for loading heavy items.

The Citroen C5 Tourer really excels on the road, where comfort and refinement are second to none and the more executive interior feels upmarket and high quality.

For long motorway miles the Citroen C5 Tourer is all the estate you’ll ever need.

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8) Ford Mondeo Estate

What Car? Estate of the Year and one of the largest load spaces in its class, it can only be the Ford Mondeo Estate.

The sheer size of the rear end – 554 litres – means the Mondeo estate will have you wondering if you really need that MPV after all.

Plus, the Mondeo boasts all the hallmarks Ford has become famous for in the UK; a good, involving drive, high levels of technology across all trim levels and a good range of engines – most notably the soon-to-be-introduced EcoBoost petrol option seen in the Ford C-Max.

With four well-equipped specifications (Edge, Zetec, Titanium and Titanium X), the Mondeo comes with plenty of choice across a range of prices.

From just £17,705, the Ford Mondeo Estate could just be the best load-lugger in the segment.

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9) Peugeot 3008

We thought we’d throw in a bit of a curve ball in the top ten best estates with the Peugeot 3008.

Officially, it is a ‘crossover’ between an estate, a hatchback and an MPV, but it does offer all of the benefits of an estate car and more.

As a consummate all-rounder, the 3008 has plenty of room in the back for luggage, lots of space for passengers and a comfortable and refined driving style.

The real benefit in owning a Peugeot 3008, however, is in the running costs. A range of petrol and diesel engines deliver ultra-low CO2 emissions (as low as 135g/km with the best-performing diesel, the 1.6-litre unit) and even the more powerful engines won’t cost too much to run.

This year, the range is further extended with the addition of the world’s first diesel hybrid engine set up. The Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4 is on sale from October from £26,600 and delivers VED-free CO2 emissions of just 99g/km.

This is matched to fuel economy of 74.4mpg despite the car also offering four-wheel drive. With the new diesel, Peugeot could soon boast the best estate car in the UK.

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10) Land Rover Discovery 4

If none of the estates listed above suit your needs, there may be another option – the superb Land Rover Discovery 4.

Strictly speaking, it is an SUV, but the estate-like rear offers a vast amount of space for luggage, whereas the raised ground height, all-terrain system and superb engines will mean off-road driving is no problem.

It is also luxuriously kitted out, making the Disco a superb all-rounder. While prices may be high (from £31,000), it is worth every penny for the best 4×4 on the market today.

Don’t expect ultra-low CO2 emissions, but the Disco is frugal enough to avoid criticism from traditional anti-Land Rover environmentalists, meaning it is the best of both worlds for those who choose it.

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