Bargain brakes

Kia Ceed Sportswagon, 2018, front
Fiat Tipo Station Wagon, interior
Fiat Tipo Station Wagon, boot
Kia Ceed Sportswagon, 2018, side
Kia Ceed Sportswagon, 2018, rear
Kia Ceed Sportswagon, 2018, interior
Kia Ceed Sportswagon, 2018, boot
Skoda Superb Estate, 2019, front
Skoda Superb Estate, 2019, side
Skoda Superb Estate, 2019, rear
Skoda Superb Estate, 2019, boot
Skoda Superb Estate, 2019, interior
Dacia Logan Stepway, front static
Dacia Logan Stepway, side static
Dacia Logan Stepway, rear static
Dacia Logan Stepway, dashboard
Dacia Logan Stepway, boot 1
Skoda Fabia Estate, front
Skoda Fabia Estate, rear
Skoda Fabia Estate, interior
Skoda Fabia Estate, boot
Fiat Tipo Station Wagon, front, action
Fiat Tipo Station Wagon, side
Fiat Tipo Station Wagon, rear, action

CALL them station wagons, shooting brakes or sports wagons... they all amount to the same thing - estate cars.

And despite the avalanche of SUVs flooding the forecourts, the good old estate still makes sense to many.

For a start, they're usually cheaper than the relative crossover, they usually drive more like a saloon, i.e. handle better than a high-rider, and the loading capacity can often be just as generous, if not more useful.

Here we look at a few well-priced choices that have bags of space for the family or rep and present a real alternative to a crossover.

Right in the bargain basement, is the Dacia Logan MCV, with prices starting at little more than £10,000. Few would regard it as a magical driving experience, but value for money can hardly be in question. And when it comes to luggage room, it puts many estates costing twice as much in the shade.

The MCV - Maximum Capacity Vehicle - is true to its name being capable of carrying 573 litres of cargo with four passengers in place and 1,518 litres with the rear seats folded.

While the 1.0-litre petrol is the cheapest version, it is the 1.5-litre diesel dCi priced at little over £12,000 that offers the most appealing picture to British buyers who tend to regard a radio as an essential, rather than a luxury! The 1.5-litre unit which knocks out an acceptable 94bhp also endows it with reasonable performance that allows it to hit 62mph in around the 12 second mark.

There's also the Stepway version of the MCV which comes with extra body cladding and other SUV-like attributes - yours for a shade over £12,500.

The budget branch of the giant Renault group is currently forging a path through the establishment in offering no frills motoring to buyers who might otherwise have to have stayed in the used car market.

Add another couple of grand to the price tag buys you a Skoda Fabia Estate. What it lacks in elegance it more than makes up for in space and usability. At £14,700 the 1.0 TSI is pleasant to drive with decent performance and an eager petrol engine that's easy on the fuel bill.

The 94bhp turbocharged engine is sweet sounding and eager offering pretty swift acceleration and the cabin finish, while not being exactly luxurious, is well finished, tough wearing and family friendly.

It's a decent driving experience with light controls, a slick gearbox and secure roadholding. Noise levels are moderate.

There's 530 litres of luggage space and passengers are well catered for thanks to comfortable seating and plenty of space for clutter and oddments. It may not of the image of a VW but the space and cost saving will make sense to many.

A close rival to the Fabia is the Fiat Tipo Station Wagon, just slightly more expensive at £15,320 for the 1.4 Easy but with even more cargo room, being able to soak up 550 litres of luggage.

The engine is eager but pleasantly refined and smooth while the estate's generous proportions result in plenty of cabin space. Attractive styling that's makes it look even larger add to the appeal of the Fiat.

More stylish, and more expensive though still good value, is the Kia Ceed Sportswagon, a semi-coupe five-door which surprisingly has more luggage space than many utilitarian-looking conventional estates.

Supported by Kia's seven year warranty, the Sportswagon starts at a shade below £20,000 and is a lesson in cabin packaging to many. A sort of latter-day equivalent of the fashionable 1970s Reliant Scimitar, it presents the ability for style-conscious families to own a truly practical estate.

With 116bhp on tap from the little one litre turbo powered T-GDi , performance is sprightly enough with acceleration to 62mph in under 11 seconds and a top speed of 118mph.

The load area is low and flat allowing it be a truly practical area, while the cabin is modern and stylish with a generous level of equipment including electric windows all round, air con and seven airbags.

Emissions are pegged to just 122g/km making it reasonable to tax. Most owners should easily attain 40-plus mpg, making an economical companion.

A price tag of some £25,000 isn't usually regarded as the territory of a bargain buy. But take a look at the Skoda Superb Estate which starts at that amount and you realise you get a lot for your cash.

Possibly the roomiest models in its class, it can stow no less than 660 litres of cargo and three times that amount when the rear seats are folded. What's more, it's a truly elegant looking vehicle irrespective of price. Maybe offering a more dashing profile than its posh brother, the Audi A6 Avant...

The 1.4-litre, 148bhp four cylinder petrol engine, which is shared by a number of other VW Group members, is a gem with lusty performance and frugal thirst. The six-speed manual gearbox is slick and smooth and it rides better than many much dearer saloons.

Roadholding and handling is a match for most with utterly predictable front drive characteristics. The benchmark 62mph comes up in less than 10 seconds, making it rapid enough for all but the most enthusiastic drivers.

Skoda has long been proud of making high quality cars at bargain prices. Perhaps its big estate is one the best examples of the firm's mission statement.

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