Family cars and sports cars may sit at opposite ends of the car spectrum, but that doesn’t mean that sports cars can’t be practical – or that practical cars can’t be sporty.
We’ve rounded up some of the most appealing models that manage to blend the punch of a thoroughbred sports car with all the practicality – and comfort – that a growing family could need.
Whether you’re after a surefooted four-wheel drive machine that is equally good at charging along a country road as taking the kids to school in the morning, or a car that is supremely stylish inside and out but offers all the space you could need in the boot, discerning parents have never had it so good.
Affordable and spacious estate: Ford Focus ST Estate – £23,595
The Ford Focus has sat towards the very top of the UK bestsellers list for many years, but we hazard a guess that most buyers don’t opt for the rapid ST model. Now the ST is available in estate form, however, there is little penalty to be had in opting for this practical model.
Though the ST Estate can fire to 62mph in a rapid 6.7 seconds, it still returns reasonable official economy of 41.5mpg, meaning that it shouldn’t cost the earth to fuel if you take it easy. Meanwhile, CO2 emissions of 159g/km put this model into the £180 per year car tax band.
Practical estate with sports car performance: VW Golf R Estate DSG – £32,780
The VW Golf is famed for being one of the most sensible cars you could buy – and what could be more sensible than a Golf Estate? Admittedly, the near-£33,000 price tag of the Golf R Estate is on the high side compared to most similarly-sized estate cars, but this model also boasts the muscle to outsprint a Porsche Cayman from the lights, taking just 5.1 seconds to accelerate to 62mph.
Staying on the practical side, alongside its supersized boot the Golf R features a standard-fit automatic gearbox to take the stress out of town driving, along with four-wheel drive for improved all-weather traction. Economy stands just behind the Focus, with the Golf R Estate returning official fuel consumption of 40.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 162g/km meaning that car tax will set you back a Focus-matching £180 per year.
If you’re after something a little more economical, however, VW has also just introduced the Golf GTD Estate, which packs a punchy diesel engine that fires it to 62mph in a nippy enough 7.9 seconds, but returns much more palatable economy of 64.2mpg, with car tax costing a mere £30 per year – all for a more affordable £27,660.
Sharply-styled model that undercuts VW Golf: Seat Leon ST Cupra 280 – £29,205
If the styling of the Golf doesn’t appeal, or you don’t need four-wheel drive, the Seat Leon ST Cupra, is another sound option.
Not only does this machine beat the Focus in the benchmark 0-62mph sprint – taking just 5.8 seconds – but it’s also a little more economical, with an official fuel consumption figure of 42.8mpg. Annual car tax isn’t too bad either, at £180.
Speedy machine with massive boot: Skoda Octavia vRS Estate – £25,030
Those who need the biggest boot they can get their hands on, however, may want to take a look at the Octavia vRS Estate, which offers a colossal load bay. Unlike the Golf the Octavia does without four-wheel drive and it also has a much less powerful motor under the bonnet, but it should still be more than rapid enough for most buyers, taking a scant 6.9 seconds to accelerate to 62mph.
Fuel economy beats the others too, with a claimed figure of 45.6mpg and emissions of 143g/km dropping it down into the £145 tax band. As with the Golf, there is also a diesel version if you need a much more economical option.
Rapid and sleek estate: Mercedes CLA45 AMG Shooting Brake – £43,120
Should style and sheer performance be top of your wishlist, the Mercedes CLA45 AMG Shooting Brake is worth a look. Yes it has a big, big price tag, weighing in at more than £43,000, but it also boasts sleek, curvy styling and a supremely powerful turbocharged motor that, courtesy of a four-wheel drive system, fires the CLA to 62mph in a Porsche 911-beating 4.7 seconds.
The immense power on tap also means that this Mercedes is a little less frugal than the models above, but a claimed economy figure of 39.8mpg and annual car tax of £180 mean that it shouldn’t break the bank in running cost terms.