There will be a large number of you reading this that are in your 20’s, male and probably think you will never own an estate, well you may be wrong, and if you don’t ever own one you are missing out.
Estates of the 70s and 80s
OK so it would be a fair to say estate cars on offer through the 70s and 80s were dull, slow and had less appeal than the oddly tight shorts you were probably wearing at the time. In it’s earlier days the estate car was simply an extended version of the main production model. Quite often the added boot space looked stuck on, but even if it didn’t you would be hard pushed to find one that offered any kind of performance. The MK2 and 3 Ford Cortina Estate, the Austin Montego Estate, the Vauxhall Cavalier estate; all fine cars for lugging things but all ultimately boring and rather slow.
There is always a lot of debate about when estate cars suddenly started being made with performance engines and handling. some suggest is it the BMW E30 328i estate, others suggest it was Volvo with the 740 Turbo Wagon whatever it was the slow rise of the performance estate began a perception change so slow that it is still going on today, some 25-30 years later.
How Can They Be Cool?
For many people, the minute they have children their perception of practicality changes, they suddenly see the world as a series of doorways, stairs and areas to get baby things through, across and over. This is where the estate car suddenly becomes useful, but it doesn’t become cool. They have always been useful, where they become cool is when they not only fulfil the family needs but they also fulfil personal needs that involve owning a good car with some performance. With the start of the “hot estate” revolution in the late 80s slowly but surely more and more people have been buying them.This also means more and more smug people are sitting in a traffic jam with a car full of stuff, safe in the knowledge their car is not only faster but can probably out handle most other cars in the queue.
What are these cars?
There is a slight “estate blindness” that goes on across the motoring world. Reviewers will always look at the saloon or hatchback version, when people talk about a new car they don’t mention the estate. But they are there and there are amazing value and superbly flexible cars. Look at the savagely powerful and frankly beautiful Jaguar XFS-R Sportbrake; it will do 0-60 in less time than most sports cars, has over 500bhp and sounds like someone reigniting an extinct volcano when its being driven hard. That is an extreme example but cars like the Vauxhall Insignia estate CDTi, or the Ford Mondeo Titanium X estate and others like the Skoda Octavia VRS estate are all great cars. They look good, the perform well and yet they still have the space and flexibility to perform all the tasks you can throw at them.
The fact of the matter is, 40 years ago the estate car said you had essentially given up on ever having fun again, now the it says you are planning to have more fun the everyone else. No need for compromise, get the kids in, bike on the roof and hit the road in style, luxury and with plenty of power… Estate cars are cool!