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.
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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.
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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)