Looking for a swift and sporty load-lugger in which to whisk the family around in comfort and style? Here's five of the best from £4k
3 May 2016

1 - Jaguar XF 3.0 D Sportbrake (2012-2015)

When Jaguar gave the XF its mid-life nip and tuck, it took the opportunity to launch a new estate version.

The Sportbrake is great to drive and has a luxurious interior with swathes of leather, a rising rotary gear selector and a touchscreen infotainment system. There are plenty of trim options to choose from, while the rear seats split 60/40 and yield 1675 litres of space when lowered. The 3.0-litre diesel, in both standard and S forms, has a super-smooth power delivery via a slick eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Jaguar has been topping reliability surveys of late, and problems are yet to appear on the XF Sportback. We found a 2014 R-Sport example for £21,980.

2 - BMW 535d Touring (2003-2010)

In estate form, the executive class stalwart adds to the merits of the saloon with a bigger boot at the back, a low load lip and a split tailgate, although it can’t quite match a Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate for outright practicality. The Touring drives brilliantly and has great balance, direct steering and plenty of space for the family.

The 272bhp twin-turbo 3.0-litre diesel, mated to a six-speed auto ’box, makes it rapid, too. Models in M Sport spec have an overly firm ride, although the pay-off is that they look better than other trims.

Few major reliability issues have been reported. For £14,995, you can get a 2008 535d Touring M Sport with 45,000 miles on the clock.

3 - Mercedes-Benz C 350 CDI Estate (2008-2014)

The previous-generation C-Class strikes a great balance between sportiness and comfort. Dynamically, it matches most of what a BMW 3 Series has to offer, but with a smoother, more cosseting ride.

The 3.0-litre diesel C 350 CDI is refined, with a V6 growl, and promises 0-60mph in 6.3sec, while the seven-speed auto ’box delivers slick shifts. Inside, there’s room for five occupants and, with the rear seats down, 1354 litres of space, accessed by a powered tailgate.

The dashboard is a little bland, but the optional folding sat-nav adds a touch of pizzazz. This C-Class should prove to be reliable, too. A 2010 Sport with 53,000 miles on the clock can be yours for £13,000.

4 - Ford Mondeo 2.5 Titanium X Sport (2007-2014)

To many, the estate version of Ford’s excellent Mondeo is a better-looking car than the saloon or hatch. The rear seats split 60/40, folding flat to create a huge load bay with a 1733-litre capacity.

The Mondeo Estate handles well, with plenty of front-end grip and little body roll, yet it remains composed and comfortable. The five-cylinder Focus ST-sourced engine adds a dose of fun to the package, with its 216bhp output translating into a 0-60 time of 7.6sec.

To date, the Mondeo has proved pretty reliable, and being a Ford, it shouldn’t be too costly to fix if something does go wrong. We found a 2009 Titanium Sport with 72,000 miles on the clock for sale at £7995.

5 - Volvo V70 T5 (2000-2007)

If ever there was an estate version of a grand tourer, the V70 T5 is it. So forget about hairpins, sink back into those comfortable leather seats and let this big-booted barge smooth away the worries of the world.

With 1641 litres of load space with the rear seats folded, the Volvo will swallow up all the family and their kit, or do airport runs with a baggage allowance-challenging number of suitcases. But when you need it, there’s a 256bhp, turbocharged 2.4-litre fivecylinder engine under the bonnet, ready to get you out of those sticky situations.

The Swede is also rugged and well made and is proving a reliable workhorse, although the T5 has an appetite for front tyres. Just £4450 could get you a 2006 model with 100,000 miles showing.

Matthew Griffiths

Our Verdict

Jaguar XF

The second-gen Jaguar XF excels, especially with its class-leading dynamics, but does it have enough in reserve to keep the new BMW 5 Series at bay?

Join the debate

Comments
6

3 May 2016
Fast, capable load lugger. Handles well, H6 makes a fabulous sound, just have to put up with its thirst.

3 May 2016
2.8 Turbo V6, 0-60 in 5.6 seconds and 4 wheel drive. Made from about 2009 so there'll be a bargin some where and like the Ford spares will be cheap too (unlike the BMW and Merc spare price rip-off). If you're a badge snob go for the slower Merc or BMW but don't expect to be towed out of a ditch when the snow comes by the 4 wheel drive Insigna owner.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

3 May 2016
Legacy H6, good call. Passat R36? Audi S6 V10 Avant?


3 May 2016
Skoda Superb 4x4 280hp.

No manual - no fun

4 May 2016
Another shout for the Legacy..though they're getting hard to find now. Future classic for sure.

5 May 2016
"Here's five of the best from £4k" A long way from £4k. One is double, two are about ten grand more and the other over fifteen grand more. Which leaves the Volvo. Fortunately it's the best of the bunch, and would be my choice even if they were all the same price. But really, for anyone buying a car at the four thousand quid level, they would be much better advised to choose one of the base models in the range, with less to go wrong, cheaper repairs if it does and slightly more sensible tyre sizes, that won't cost half the value of the car to replace. In fact even at higher budget levels, with older used cars it makes sense to go for lower spec versions. If it has to be a car with all the extras stick to a new or nearly new example from a lower range model.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left

 

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