YOU can still have your cake and eat it when it comes to wanting a practical, spacious and comfortable family estate car but at the same time a car with sports performance - and at an affordable cost.
There is clearly a demand for such cars which is one reason why Skoda has recently upgraded its Octavia vRS Estate giving it a bit more power, more comfort yet it still remains one of the best load-luggers in its sector.
With the Czech car maker part of the Volkswagen empire it was only natural that it should take on board the latest 2.0-litre 242bhp petrol engine currently used in the ‘king' of the hot hatchback brigade, the Golf GTI.
They've also borrowed the Golf's electro-mechanical front differential and a few other pieces of engineering hardware to further enhance the sporty performance of the vRS model and it's clearly worked.
This go-faster front-wheel-drive Octavia estate with an excellent to use short-gated six-speed manual gearbox gives it that extra oomph out on the road meaning it can accelerate from 0 to 62mph in just over six seconds and has a claimed top speed of 155mph.
The key though to having this extra horsepower is in mid-range and when it comes to overtaking sensibly either in urban traffic or out at motorway speeds.
The response from the 242bhp engine is immediate, remarkably quiet and using that six-speed gearbox properly the performance drivers' expectations of a vRS is there to feel and experience and is much more rewarding than the slightly less powerful models in the range.
Mention sports performance to anyone and the natural reaction is that of worrying about low fuel economy but in fairness the vRS Estate is pretty reasonable coming in at 38.5mpg on a decent run which compares favourably with the official 42.8mpg combined figure. Emissions are 150g/km.
In terms of style, the vRS Estate also looks the business with it with its standard black coloured package - door mirrors, twin exhaust tail pipes and front grille - along with this particular car having what Skoda call a Corrida Red body colour making it clearly stand out from the rest of the range.
With its lowered suspension - it has MacPherson struts on the front and multi-link on the rear - the car has a sporting stance and drivers will benefit from opting for the £850 Dynamic Chassis Control (effectively adaptive dampers) which does make such a difference out on the road.
With four drive modes most of the time drivers will probably be quite happy staying in comfort mode but for those still wanting that extra push in terms of performance obviously sport mode is the answer.
For a sporty performance estate car the vRS is extremely civilised to drive and sitting on 19-inch wheels with low profile tyres only adds to all the fun and it's really impressive to drive, particularly for mid-range overtaking where it accelerates sharply enough when a driver drops down a gear or two.
It has proficient, balanced handling and even with now that extra power road holding is even better and there's practically no body roll when cornering at speed.
Inside, the vRS lives up to its outside looks with plush Alcantara seats giving excellent all round lumbar support and generally the fittings and furnishings are up to the usual VW group standard and that includes the good layout of the dashboard and controls for the driver.
It's roomy too, which is what estate car owners want and there's now an uprated 9.2-inch sat nav screen as part of the Amundsen infotainment system and overall the ambience of the interior is pleasant and comfortable despite its sporty driving attributes.
As one would expect for such a top sporty estate car with a nearly thirty grand price tag it's loaded with a huge list of standard equipment which includes cruise control, LED front fog lamps and rear lights, three-spoke leather multi-function steering wheel , driver fatigue sensor, dual-zone air conditioning and more.
Technical features as standard is also an impressive list that includes the likes of anti-lock brakes, electronic stability system and so much more plus the crucial nowadays for most drivers of front and rear parking sensors.
Estates at the end of the day though are also about luggage capacity and here the vRS scores high points over all rivals - 610 litres with the rear seats in use but once they are dropped down this rises to a remarkable 1,740 litres.
For drivers wanting all the plus points of a vRS is whether to go for the hot hatchback version with the same performance at £28,095 or for this sporty estate at £29,300 - in my book the extra £1,200 for the latter is a no brainer particularly with all that extra space and such an impressive performer too.