The best fast Estate cars

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6 of the best fast estates for around £5000
The fast estate car is a wonderful invention. In the same way that hot hatches combine the practicality of a small car with the enjoyment of a sports car, performance estates unlock the world of fast motoring to anyone — even if five seats and room for the family dog is required. Matthew Hayward from Evo Magazine takes you through 6 of the best.  

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Audi S4 Avant (1997 – 1992)
Audi S4 Avant (1997 – 1992)
eBay loves: All-weather fun
Watch out for: Servicing and repairs can be pricey

You generally can’t mention the term ‘fast estate cars’ without Audi being involved in the conversation. The Audi S4 packs an interesting punch, with very stealthy and pretty understated looks. The 2.7-litre twin-turbo V6 engine produces 261bhp and 295lb ft of torque, meaning a 0 to 62mph time of 5.6 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 155mph. Audi’s four-wheel drive Quattro system comes as standard, too, making this one of the safest-handling cars in this list. Even more powerful RS4 Avant is a step up in terms of performance — and also price
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Alfa Romeo 156 Sportwagon (2001 – 2005)
Alfa Romeo 156 Sportwagon
eBay loves: Beautiful looks, magnificent engine
Watch out for: Worn suspension components

Technically speaking, the 156 GTA Sportwagon is a flawed car. The front wheels can barely contain the 247bhp and 221lb ft of torque and although it looks great from the outside, there’s barely any more room in the boot than a standard saloon. But what an engine! The 3.2-litre Busso V6 is widely regarded as one of the best sounding in the world. If you let your heart rule your head, the Alfa is probably a car for you. 
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MG ZT-T 260 (2003 – 2005)
MG ZT-T 260 (2003 – 2005)
eBay loves: Big American V8 engine
Watch out for: Fuel bills will hurt, not that quick

If you thought the Alfa was uneconomical, then look away now. MG re-engineered the front-wheel drive ZT by installing a Ford Mustang-sourced crate engine. With just 256bhp as standard, most quicker hot hatches would see it off at the traffic lights. Thanks to that huge engine, it’ll also be crippling at the fuel pumps. Not that it should really matter. Some owners fit LPG to lessen the pain, and then there is the option of bolting on a supercharger to make this MG rather more exciting.
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Volvo 850 T5-R (1995)
Volvo 850 T5-R (1995)
eBay loves: Five-cylinder engine
Watch out for: Torque steer

The British Touring Car Championship was at its peak of popularity in the 1990s and if you watched, it you will remember the awesome 850 T5 estate going up against saloons. Volvo estates were also synonymous with the car chases due to their popularity as police traffic cars. The T5-R was the ultimate incarnation of the Volvo estate and is now considered a classic in its own right. With 240bhp on tap, the front-wheel drive estate can be a bit of a handful, but it’s still a lot of fun. Around £4,500 should bag one of the best R models.
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BMW 330i Touring (2000-2006)
BMW 330i Touring (2000-2006)
eBay loves: Nicely balanced chassis
Watch out for: Can be expensive to fix

As the E46-generation M3 was not made available as an estate, the BMW 330i Touring was the closest option. The silky smooth straight-six engine produces 228bhp and 221lb ft of torque, endowing the estate with a 0 to 62mph time of 6.7 seconds and a top speed of 155mph. On the whole, the 330i is reliable, but when there are problems, they can be expensive to fix. Most commonly talked about is the variable valve timing (VANOS) unit, which can incur large parts and labour costs.
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Skoda Octavia vRS Estate
Skoda Octavia vRS Estate
eBay loves: Fast, spacious and practical
Watch out for: High mileages

The Mk2 Octavia vRS was a performance car bargain when launched and now early petrol versions can be had for less than £5,000. Sharing its underpinnings, engine and transmission with the Golf GTI, the Octavia offers fantastic performance, with the added benefit of vast interior and boot space. With 197bhp on tap, the Octavia can hit 62mph in 7.3 seconds and reach a respectable top speed of 149mph. When driven a bit more sensibly, however, the vRS will do 35mpg.
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