The wonderful thing about estate cars is the sheer breadth of the class. This is simply a consequence of the fact that, whichever type of car the public wants, there will always be a portion who want it with added practicality.
At the extremities of this world lie such oddities as the stretched-out Mini Traveller of 1960 and the V12-engined Ferrari GTC4 Lusso shooting brake, but even the more humdrum middle ground is overflowing with variety. That's because while the following 10 cars share a common utilitarian cause, they deliver it in different ways.
Look past the big boot and some strive for opulence. Others deploy every trick in the book to make their owners' lives easier. And a couple have quietly prioritised dynamism. A handful, we might add, manage to do it all, albeit at a price. So which are the best options if you're an Autocar reader who wants only one car to do it all?
Best estate cars on sale in 2021
BMW's mid-sized stalwart is our preferred mid-sized premium saloon and it's arguable that ballooning the rear bodywork only increases its vast all-round appeal. The first reason for this is that air suspension is standard fit at the rear axle, and combined with the optional adaptive dampers, this makes for first-class ride quality.
The second reason is that BMW's strong range of diesel and petrol engines allows you to prioritise economy with four cylinders; to ensure progress is always deliciously effortless with a straight six under the bonnet; or to opt for a tax-efficient plug-in hybrid. That the G30-generation car isn't quite as incisive as its forebear also matters less for the Touring version, whose 1700-litre load bay with the rear seats down is right in the mix.
BMW doesn’t offer an M5 Touring currently, nor even an M Performance M550i- or M540d Touring option, so the quickest regular '5-er' is the six-cylinder petrol 328bhp 540i xDrive. But if you’ve got spicier appetites for your do-it-all, propeller-badged premium load-lugger, just keep reading.