Welcome to part two of the appreciation of underrated estates column.
This is all about cubic metres for not very much money at all. As is the case with a Vauxhall Astra estate. After renting one for a brief period a decade or so ago, I had to conclude that it was a sensational piece of kit. There was absolutely bags of room to be used for sticking all sorts of nonsense in the back and they now cost buttons. More on that later.
First for style on a budget and reasonable rather than an epic amount of room would be a Rover 75 Tourer. The 2.0 CDTi is a good enough engine to take the car’s mileage deep into six figures. A Club SE is a comfortable enough spec, but it won’t necessarily have leather.
You will pay about £700 for a decent one with a clean record. To have all the kit, however, it has to be a Connoisseur. If you want to risk a 2.5 V6 (and I would), those are under £1000 now because, well, a 1.8T is pretty much the same price and will cost less to fuel.
Rover went out at the top with a classy estate to its name, and the 75 Tourer’s place as the people’s estate car has largely been taken by Skoda. The Octavia estate is the bargain middle-order buy right now and you can find them with quite phenomenal mileages. It would be best not to buy one of those, though, even if they do cost just £500 or so.
A 2003 SDI Classic is a better starting point at £800. Meanwhile, a 1.6 petrol Classic offers the same amount of storage space but a less complicated engine and potentially less wear and tear.
Downsizing to a Fabia would be a very good thing. A 1.9 TDI Comfort estate from 2001 is a dear little thing and costs £600. Again, as a big petrol fan, I’d suggest that a 2004 1.2 Comfort with a lower mileage is better value for the same money.
Then there’s the Ford Focus estate, of course. It’s nice to drive, very easy to live with and worth £1000 of anyone’s money. There are loads about and that’s the easy choice. If you have no money, though, I wouldn’t bother with an old Escort, even though you can find some model run-out Flights from the late 1990s for a few hundred quid.
I would argue that you would be far better off looking at what I was banging on about at the beginning: the old Astra estate, which was very big on the inside. About £400 will buy a 2000-registered 1.6i Club, which may even have air conditioning and electric windows that work. The mileage will be six figures, but it should still do a shift — as well as shift a surprising amount of stuff.