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Buying a fast estate car on a budget

By raccars Published

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Which fast estate car offers the best performance and practicality for family car buyers?

The following are all fast, spacious, comfortable and stylish. They make a great choice for family car buyers who don't want to compromise on performance or for anyone looking for great driving dynamics but with lots of gear to move around. What's more, prices start below £10,000.

Our fast estate car picks:

Jaguar XF 3.0 D Sportbrake

Jaguar launched the estate version of the XF when it gave the saloon a mid-life face lift in 2012, and it was a great idea. The Sportbrake is luxurious to travel in and lovely to drive. The interior is liberally swathed in leather and features a modern touchscreen infotainment system and a smart rotary gear change interface. It's available in a number of different trim levels but all include a 60/40 split folding rear seat arrangement, offering a cavernous 1,675 litres of cargo space when folded down.

The 3.0 litre diesel is a strong choice and comes in standard specification or as a sporty S model, both of which offer nicely balanced performance and a super smooth eight speed automatic transmission. Jaguar has been taking the top spots in a number of reliability surveys in recent years and there are as yet no known faults to report with the XF Sportbrake. You can buy a nearly new R-Sport on a 2014 plate and still get change from £22,000.

BMW 535d Touring

The 2003-2010 5 Series has a number of virtues to its name and is arguably even better in estate format, thanks to a large boot with a practical split tailgate and low loading lip. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class might be slightly more practical but can't match the big BMW's driving dynamics, which include silky smooth power delivery and responsive steering. It moves rapidly and with style over the road surface, particularly with a 3.0 litre diesel with a twin turbo and 272bhp under the bonnet.

The famous M Sport trim level is an exhilarating if rather harsh ride and looks impressive too. The 5 Series has always been reliable but do look for a full service history. £15,000 should buy you a 535d Touring from 2008 with less than 50,000 miles on the clock.

Mercedes-Benz C 350 CDI Estate

The 2008-2014 generation C-Class is cossetingly comfortable and surprisingly sporty, although somewhat more restrained than the BMW 5 Series. The C 350 CDI's 3.0 litre V6 is very dignified most of the time but lets loose with a satisfying exhaust growl from time to time. 60Mph arrives in 6.3 seconds with super smooth shifts through the seven speed automatic gearbox.

There's plenty of room for five adults inside and behind the electrically operated tailgate you will find 1,354 litres of cargo space once the rear seats are folded down. If there's anything to complain about it's that the cabin lacks character, aside from the unusual fold back satellite navigation system. However, the Mercedes badge is a reassuring indicator of reliability. For £13,000 you should be able to find a 2009-2010 Sport model with around 50,000 miles on the clock.

Ford Mondeo 2.5 Titanium X Sport

The 2007-2014 version of the Mondeo looks at its best in estate form and it's superbly practical too, with a 1,733 litre cargo capacity. However it's on the road that the Mondeo really shines, with seriously sharp handling and a huge amount of stability. The five cylinder engine is out of the Focus ST and offers plenty of entertainment in an otherwise very sensible and practical proposition, with 216bhp taking the big Mondeo to 60mph in 7.6 seconds.

By all accounts the Mondeo is a reliable car and as a Ford, if repairs are necessary they are at least affordable. A 2009-2010 model with less than 80,000 miles on the clock should come in under £8,000.

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