Practical & Powerful: Top 5 Performance Estates

Supercars aren’t the coolest cars on the road are they, really? Yes, they attract the most eyes, and often make all the right noises, but in an everyday context we’d argue there is nothing more attractive than the fast estate. The appeal lies in the breadth of their ability, which promises engaging and impressive driving dynamics, matched to real practicality.

Yes, high performance SUVs do some things well, but fast estates generally do everything better, while taking up less space on the road and slipping under the radar all at the same time.

Audi RS6 Avant

The RS6 is the daddy of the fast estate for good reason. Powered by a thunderous twin-turbo V8 engine, and beset with bespoke bodywork and a particularly sinister look, the RS6 is just about the ultimate fast estate.

Yet one thing that it’s not always been is brilliant to drive, but in this latest form it’s cracked that aspect too, with Audi throwing all its toys at it to make best use of its near-600bhp. Bespoke axles that are 40mm wider on each corner, massive (admittedly optional) 420mm carbon ceramic brakes and 22-inch wheels make light work of its near two-tonne bulk.

Add to this a playful power split between the axles and accurate steering and the RS6 is one of the most rounded and entertaining cars to drive, regardless of its capability to pack a week’s worth of holiday clothes in the back at the same time.

Mercedes-AMG E63 S

The alt-RS6, Mercedes-AMG’s E63 S Estate is even more of a hooligan on account of its drift mode and 603bhp twin-turbo V8 engine. Yet it somehow combines this with a larger load bay and, if specified carefully, a more understated aesthetic.

Having recently undergone a subtle update, the latest E63 S estate is an even more rounded option, with AMG having taken the edge off the previously brittle ride, making it significantly more comfortable without compromising on body control. Add to this an updated infotainment system and the E63 S really could be the ultimate daily driver.

Peugeot 508 SW PSE

Diverging from the German super estate norm for a moment, the Peugeot 508 SW PSE takes the notion in a different direction, with not one but three different power sources making this both a 355bhp performance estate and a plug-in hybrid. It’s not as potent as some of the other options here, granted, but if the advantages of a plug-in hybrid work for you then it makes for a fascinating option.

Yet the PSE isn’t just interesting under the skin, as its svelte body work, dramatic interior and close connection to Peugeot’s incoming Le Mans Hypercar class racer make it a compelling option, and a massive step in the right direction for the company.

Alpina B5 S Touring

BMW’s decision to keep its current M5 as a saloon only might seem to irk more than a few fast family car buyers, but left-field BMW tuner Alpina has been knocking out hot estates for years, and the new B5 S Touring is one such superstar. While it looks relatively understated – save for the massive wheels and optional graphics package – don’t let these anodyne looks fool you, the B5 S is rapid.

But the Alpina’s biggest draw is its cool factor. Unlike BMW, Mercedes and Audi, which seem to have become as common on the road today as any Ford, Vauxhall or Volkswagen, it remains something more of an artisan car brand, maintaining its top-level status alongside the most expensive of factory BMW M models, but with an even more sophisticated hue.

Volkswagen Arteon R Shooting Brake

We’d bet that there’s more than a few of our readers who have, or have had, a Volkswagen Golf R. So to the many who took the plunge, where to logically go without needing to shell out huge money for the latest Audi RS4, VW’s now got this – the striking new Arteon R Shooting Brake.

It shares many of its technical elements with the Golf R, but does away with the upright hatchback body for the long and low proportions of the Arteon Shooting Brake. Add in the R’s 20-inch wheels, subtle yet menacing styling upgrades and some real top-class detailing, there’s no estate car on sale today that gathers more attention – trust us, we know…

Jordan Katsianis

If there’s an interesting high performance or luxury car, chances are Jordan has driven it. With experience working for the world’s most respected editorial brands, Jordan’s eye for picking out the best new cars in the world is backed up with a past in automotive design and engineering - appreciating true innovation, while sorting out the good from the bad, and the ugly.