Five great estate cars to keep the MPVs at bay

As you get older things get more boring, right? Wrong. Yes, you may have accumulated a partner, mortgage and 2.4 children, but that doesn't mean you have to buy a people carrier.

Estates offer just as much flexibility as boring people movers but because they're based on 'normal' cars they handle better and can benefit from some stonking powerplants.

Here we take a look at five great estates that makes carrying the family – and all the associated paraphernalia that goes with them – just a little bit more fun.

Audi RS6
For the real die-hard fans, a fast Audi estate should really be in the shape of the original RS2, or even the latter RS4, but our pick is the RS6. Why? Well, it's got a humungous powerplant under the bonnet packing 4.2-litres, twin turbos and produces a whopping 444bhp. All that means it can hit 60mph in under five seconds. But the best bit? It's got up to 1,590-litres of boot space and a 53-reg model can be yours for just £12k!

BMW M5 Touring (E61)
BMW's rival to the RS6 arrived in 2007 and was lauded by Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson. 'It's one of the most exciting cars made today, only now, because it's an estate, your dog can come too,' he said. It would have to be a pretty fearless hound – the M5 Touring uses a 5.0-litre V10 that helps it hit 60mph in 4.7 seconds! Producing 500bhp and packed with kit, like a cool head-up display, this is a real practical super car. A 57-reg model can be yours for £26k.

Ferrari 456 Venice
Never heard of it? We're not surprised. The 456 Venice was an unofficial edition of the supercar of which only a handful were made by Pininfarina. A Brunei prince bought six of the estates based in the GT 456 model. Under the bonnet was the same 5.5-litre V12 engine – capable of 60mph in 5 seconds – but with added practicality. Unfortunately this one is so rare you'll struggle to find one to buy, but there is at least one in the UK as this video shows!

Mercedes Benz E63 AMG
The 6.2-litre, 525bhp V8 engine found in this 'humble' estate has been modestly described as sounding like 'bottled thunder'. Perfect, then, to get the Labradors to the beach... Packed with technology, like dynamic seats that inflate to hold you as you turn the wheel, the E63 can hit 60mph in 4.3 seconds and will go on to a limited top speed of 155mph. Costing £70k new, second hand we found a 56-plate model for £35k. Tempting.

Volvo 850 R
The slightly sensible choice of our performance load luggers comes in the rather boxy shape of the Volvo 850 R. Capable of hitting a top speed of 144mph and the 60mph benchmark in around seven seconds, the tuneful 250bhp 2.3-litre engine was a delight. Being a Volvo it was packed with safety equipment and had acres of space in the back – the police didn't use them for motorway duties without good reason! You can buy a P-reg model now for around £3k.

You've seen our picks, now let us know yours by posting your comments below.

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