With fancy names for estate, such as Avant, Touring, and Sportbrake, these ballistic wagons have been redefining what a sports car can be for over 20 years. Audi's RS2, which first appeared in 1994, was the range-topping performance model. Only available as an estate, a tradition Audi would retain until 2002, when the RS6 was also offered as a saloon.
If you need a car you can put baby seats in, or a dog guard in the back, and still beat a Porsche on a track day, then perhaps these could be for you. Just remember to let baby and Pooch out first!
The C6 model (pictured) has a twin-turbo V10 producing 571 BHP, which will propel it to 60 MPH in 4.6 seconds. At just over 2 tonnes, the RS6 is a heavy-weight that wrestles its mass through the bends. The quattro 4x4 system keeps the power planted on the tarmac and is forgiving to a novice driver. In the highest tax bracket and returning under 20 MPG, the RS6 running costs are as scary as the performance.
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A favourite car of a certain Mr. Clarkson, the E60 M5 (pictured) has a mighty V-10 engine mated to a sequential 7-speed gearbox. The exhaust note sounds like a muffled F1 car of the era, with good reason: The former BMW Sauber F1 team also used an odd firing V-10. Is it a 500-BHP car you can live with everyday? Assuming you can afford those fuel costs, definitely. The ride is typical 5-Series and it will dispense with long journeys effortlessly.
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Jaguar's 510 BHP performance estate might not have the lineage of its German rivals. But this British bruiser is every-bit a contender for winning the smiles per gallon award. With a supercharged V8 upfront, the XFR-S delivers its peak torque low in the revs and just keeps pushing. Its adversaries might beat it by a few tenths to 60 when driven hard but the Jag feels more eager when driven gently. Depreciation is perhaps the Jaguar's scariest feature, which can make it a used bargain if you're brave enough.
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This monster Mercedes dispatches with 60 in just 4.1 seconds thanks to its 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8. Although the quickest here, the E63 is composed and well-mannered, never letting on the license losing speeds it can achieve with just a prod of your right foot. Where its competitors are just asking to be driven in anger, the Mercedes heartily sighs as its turbos spool up and says, "Oh alright then" as it whisks you away.
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Listing the Passat R36 here with the big guns might seem a little unfair. With a mere 300 BHP, the R36 takes a whole 5.6 seconds to 60. But think about that... it's a Passat! The most understated car on the road, it's a true street sleeper. Driven frugally, it'll return MPG figures in the high 20s. Off the lights, it will surprise plenty of sports cars, and when its service time, you won't see four figure invoices. If you're on a budget the humble Passat is a super estate for the everyday.
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Do you have your own favourite performance estate car? Let me know in the comments below.