The best estate cars — or station wagons, if you must — are known to offer more than a massive boot. They are after all the choice of families, especially those which can tolerate each other long enough for road trips. Turn into the carpark of a supermarket, and you’ll notice the majority are estate cars. Dropping your kids off at school? Surprise, surprise — they’re there too.
Of course, this comes with the perception that estate cars are dull. There’s almost no stodgier word in all of automotive-dom. They’ve not come to be known as cars you can brag about on your Tinder profile, and surely they don’t rev with half the tenacity of a respectable sedan.
However, we want to make grocery runs great again. This means looking at some of the fastest estate cars you can buy today (according to their acceleration to 100kph times), complete with figures that could rival some of the most street-credible sports cars around. These have the same functional shape, easy access and folding rear seats that’ve become the epitome of convenience, only the practicality they offer is just as generous as their power reserves.
Forget the school bus. Take your kids to school in these in less than half the time, and double the fun.
Updated from the previous Alpina B3 and B4, which were in turn based on the pre-facelifted BMW 3- and 4-Series, the ’S’ badged variation comes with a 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six that pumps 431hp into the wagon shell. An all-wheel drive system pushes the BMW xDrive system to new heights for the sort of handling and traction you’d expect from the premium tuning firm. Inside, the car is spacious for all your travelling adventures, though its sporty 20-inch multi-spoke wheels and brawny curves outside will tell you otherwise.
Like it’s other E63 brethren, the C63 S is a thoroughbred sports vehicle that’s just as functional. As the top model of the C-Class line-up, this wagon is driven by a sweet 4.0-litre V8 biturbo that’s not too distant a relative from the mighty Mercedes-AMG GT. The result is 510hp and 700Nm of torquey goodness to all four wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission. Inside, this wagon stays true to its ’S’ designation with sporty accents, an optional button for the Performance exhaust system with flap control, and an IWC-design analogue clock for a ride that’s as classy as it is exhilarating.
It is said that subtlety is a virtue but that’s not how Audi does things, especially when it includes ‘Performance’ as part of the name of its car. Upping the ante from the regular Audi RS6 Avant is another 45hp, giving the wagon a total of 597hp. Alongside carbon-ceramic brakes option comes a raised speed limiter of 304kph, delivered smoothly via magnetic acceleration and with just the right amount of grunt without being obnoxious. Immense traction also gives his charismatic car even more character. Inside, expect a vast car that’s also largely accommodating to all your children, pets and cargo.
Alpina has always been one to make Mercedes-AMG nervous. And BMW. While the latter has been pondering the new M5, the Bavarian brand has jumped the queue to launch its own tourer, and it makes BMW’s next baby look boring. A 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 gives it massive pace, and with a bespoke air intake, churns out 600bhp and 800 Nm of torque. Expect a top speed of 323kph, which is almost too fast for such a useful-looking car. Equipped as standard are 20-inch wheels, a sports exhaust with Comfort and Sport settings, and adaptive suspension that stiffens considerably when in racier modes. This might be the most practical choice in your dream garage line up.
The trusty Panamera takes on a new evolution this year, thanks to a subtle stretch of roofline that’s now upgraded it to sexy wagon status. It’s everything a typical wagon isn’t — low, sleek and powerful. It is, however as practical as any others, with a more upright rear glass for greater functionality. The genius in this car is its active rear spoilers, which move among three positions (one of which reduces noise when the panoramic sunroof is open). As the heftiest baby in the series, this twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 variation summons 550 horses and a top speed of 304kph.
This is a wagon of mosts — specifically most technologically advanced, and most powerful — in its class. It’s also the most extreme and irrational wagon you’ll buy, but you’ll get it anyway. Built on the latest E-Class platform, this 2018 model has the grunt of 603 ponies with a more efficiently-tuned rendition of the same 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 found in the AMG GT S and even the G550. There are nine speeds to shuffle through, each changing with increasing urgency as you switch between the Comfort mode to Sport, and then to Sport+. Top speed is electronically limited to 290kph — generous enough for a grocery run. As a special reward for your insanity, there is a Drift mode that will send all the torque to the rear to make it a rear-drive car. Make sure you’ve got your insurance sorted first.