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Aston Martin V12 Vantage S vs Porsche 911 Turbo S

Clio Renaultsport 197/200: PH Buying Guide

VW Golf GTI: Marketwatch

KTM's Gerald Kiska: PH2 Meets

RIP the hot hatch: Tell Me I'm Wrong

Mercedes-AMG GT: Preview

David Brown Speedback GT: Review

Honda S2000: PH Buying Guide

Akrapovic: PH2 Meets

Megane 275 Trophy vs Leon Cupra 280

Mazda RX-7: PH Heroes

Animal Boat: PH2 meets

SEAT Leon Cup Racer: Driven

Aston Martin Vanquish MY15: Review

Porsche Macan: Tell Me I'm Wrong

Ford Fiesta Black Edition: Driven (briefly)

Audi S4 vs BMW M3 vs C43 AMG: Foes Reunited

Nissan 370Z vs Infiniti Q60: Blood Brothers

Ford Focus RS Mk2: PH Buying Guide

Forget the facelift: Tell Me I'm Wrong

Delta Integrale vs Quattro: Foes Reunited

KTM RC390: PH2

BMW M3: Marketwatch

Mini Cooper S (R53): PH Buying Guide

Mitsubishi Evo: Marketwatch

Spa weekend, PH style

Yamaha XVS1300 Custom: Review

Mini All4 Racing: Driven

Impreza STI vs Evo V: Foes Reunited

VW Polo GTI vs SEAT Ibiza Cupra: Blood Brothers

Inside Nick Mason's car collection

Maserati Quattroporte: PH Buying Guide

Tuning is a waste of money: Tell Me I'm Wrong

Civic Type R vs Clio 172: Foes Reunited

Freaks and weirdos: Geneva 2014

Ritmo Sereno: PH2 Meets

SEAT Leon Cupra: PH Buying Guide

The road to Geneva

Lamborghini Huracan - full story

Front-wheel drive rules! Tell Me I'm Wrong

Hatchback Subarus rule: Tell Me I'm Wrong

F430 vs Gallardo: Foes Reunited

BMW M3 (E9x): PH Buying Guide

Touring Car Legends: PH Meets

Drew Bowler: PH Meets

Ice driving with AMG

Monte Carlo Rally: behind the scenes

Walter Rohrl: PH Meets

Bentley Arnage T: PH Buying Guide

Porsche 917/30: Driven

Lamborghini Gallardo vs Audi R8 V10: Blood Bros

Smart Roadster: Tell Me I'm Wrong

Radical RXC: Driven

Porsche 918 Spyder: Review

F1 2014: double the fun?

Hot bikes for 2014: PH2

Ford Mustang timeline

Singer Vehicle Design: PH Meets

Caterham Seven (K-Series): PH Buying Guide

Porsches in California

Nissan Heritage Centre visit

R2R 2014 Dakar Rally Wildcat: Driven

Nissan GT-R MY14 and NISMO: Driven

Corvette C7 Stingray: Driven

Fast should mean scary: Tell Me I'm Wrong

Subaru Impreza: Market Watch

Audi RS4 (B7): PH Buying Guide

PH goes drag racing...

Vettel: Tell Me I'm Wrong

40 years of the WRC

Drayson EV record car: Driven

A45 AMG vs C36 AMG

Dunlop SportSmart2 launch: PH2

Renaultsport Megane 2: PH Buying Guide

New BMW M3 and M4 - full story

Nissan Juke NISMO vs Clio 200 RS: Blood Brothers

Car set-up basics: part two

Zenos Cars - the full story

Rush: behind the scenes

Herbert Linge: PH Meets

Vauxhall Monaro: PH buying guide

We won't miss manual Ms: Tell Me I'm Wrong

Cosworth: PH Meets

Inside Fort Dunlop

Car set-up basics: part one

Aston Martin V8 Vantage: PH Buying Guide

Dunlop's track day rubber: PH2

Toyota GT86 vs Subaru BRZ: Blood Brothers

30 years of Quattro

BMW World Superstock race bike: Ridden

Vuhl's Guillermo Echeverria: PH Meets

Porsche Cayman: PH Buying Guide

Exhaust fakery: Tell Me I'm Wrong

CSL development team: PH Meets

Mini JCW vs Citroen DS3 Racing: Blood Brothers

Porsche 911 GT3: market watch

BMW M3 CSL anniversary tour

TVR Tuscan: PH Buying Guide

TT on four wheels

Ariel Atom vs Radical SR8 vs Caterham SP.300/R

Chris Harris on the Mille Miglia

Lord Drayson: PH Meets

Personalised plates: Tell Me I'm Wrong

Lamborghini at 50: the Grande Giro

Fast vs fun - grip or slip

McLaren P1 - inside story

Ferrari 360: PH Buying Guide

Porsche 911 Turbo timeline

Porsche 911 Turbo: market watch

VW Golf R vs Audi S3: Blood Brothers

Range Rover Sport: behind the scenes

Speed aware - one man's story

Alfa Romeo SZ: Tell Me I'm Wrong

Jaguar D-Type: not the usual ride-along

Mazda RX-8: PH buying guide

Porsche Cayman S on the Targa Florio

Jean-Pascal Dauce: PH Meets

Lambo in a spot of bother? Tell Me I'm Wrong

Jaguar revisits Jabbeke

(Not) Driven: BMW i8

PH Buying Guide: Jaguar XK8/XKR (X100)

PH Meets: Tadao Baba

Bentley Boys hit Vegas

Driven: Mini John Cooper Works GP

Driven: Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG 4Matic

Blood Brothers: Mercedes E55 AMG vs Chrysler 300C

Tell Me I'm Wrong: Mercedes SLR McLaren

Driven: Audi R8 V10 S Tronic

Driven: Toyota Picnic GT4 (yes, really)

Driven: Mini Coupe John Cooper Works

Driven: Ariel Atom 3.5 supercharged

PH Buying Guide: Range Rover (L322)

Tell Me I'm Wrong: Aston Martin V8 Zagato

Happy 100th Birthday, Aston Martin

The joy of Shed

PH meets: Mike Cross

Driven: Porsche Boxster S

Blood Brothers: Twingo 133 vs Clio 182

Best of British: One Coin, Two Sides

PH buying guide: Porsche 911 Turbo (996)

Tell Me I'm Wrong: BMW Z8

No place like home

Driving the Bond Esprit

PH buying guide: Toyota MR2

Driven: Ford Focus Zetec S Mountune MP200

Tell Me I'm Wrong: Porsche 911 Turbo

GT86: the next step

Driven: Z Cars Cappuccino

Blood Bros: TT TDI vs Scirocco TDI

Meeting 'Mr GT86'

PH buying guide: Ferrari 550 Maranello

Tell Me I'm Wrong: VW Golf R32 (Mk4)

Racing with Caterham: part two

Driven: Lotus Evora 414E

Aston Martin 'not lazy' - official

PH buying guide: Mitsubishi Evo VI

PH2 ridden: Kawasaki W800

What is Infiniti doing in F1?

Tushek Renovatio T500

PH2: Kawasaki Ninja 300

Tell Me I'm Wrong: BMW Z4 M Coupe

PH2 ridden: BMW S1000RR HP4

Driven: Jaguar XJ 3.0 S/C

PH meets Mr Gran Turismo

Bentley Mulsanne on track

Farewell Range Rover

Driven: Mazda MX-5 GT4

PH Buying Guide: Vauxhall VX220

Porsche and the death of steering feel

Jags, Playmates and Pebble Beach

PH2: The Spyder Club

PH meets Mr Autofarm

Subaru BRZ vs Toyota GT86

PH2 ridden: BMW C evolution

Blood Brothers: Corsa VXR vs MiTo

Jaguar XJ220 - the inside story

Toyota GT 86 meets Toyota Sports 800

PH buying guide: Maserati 3200 GT

PH2 ridden: 2012 Kawasaki ZZR1400

Tell Me I'm Wrong: Porsche 911 996 GT3

From Russia with ... legroom

PH does the Alps

PH buying guide: BMW M3 (E46)

Blood Brothers: Vauxhall VX220 vs Lotus Europa S

Five Lambos in one day

An idiot's guide to driving the 'ring

PH meets John McGuinness

Isle of Man TT with Mark Higgins

Lamborghini Reventon brings the noise

Driving the Queen's V8 Land Rover

PH buying guide: Clio 172/182

The £17K Ferrari? I bought it...

Tell me I'm wrong: Peugeot 205 GTI

VW Golf A59: The stillborn European Evo

Blood Brothers: Mini Coupe JCW vs Peugeot RCZ

PH buying guide: Lamborghini Gallardo

Tell me I'm wrong: Aston Martin V12 Vantage

New Hethel, new Lotus

PH2 Ridden: BMW R1200GS Adventure

Driven: Artega GT at the 'ring

Driven: Radical SR3 SL

McLaren: the inside story

PH2 ridden: Ducati Panigale

PH2: Suzuki Hayabusa vs Radical SR3 RS

Blood Brothers: Mazda 3 MPS vs Ford Focus ST

The PH guide to the EU's new tyre labels

PH buying guide: Mercedes SL55 AMG

Tell me I'm wrong: Nissan Skyline GT-R R34

Geneva 2012: the PH round-up

PH buying guide: Honda NSX

PH2: Behind the smoke screen

Tell me I'm wrong: BMW M5

PH2 ridden: 2012 Kawasaki ER-6n

Driven: Porsche 911 Cabriolet (991)

Driven: Bentley Continental Supersports ISR

Land Rover Bigfoot says snow, what snow?

Blood Brothers: Golf GTI vs Leon FR

Driven: Mercedes C250 CDI Coupe

Hidden Nurburgring by Evoque

Subaru TA340C: the hot Scooby lives!

PH Buying Guide: Ford Focus RS

Chris Harris video: Sport Quattro vs. RS200

Driven: bike-engined Fiat 126 Bis

Driven: Porsche Panamera GTS

PH2 ridden: 2012 Triumph Speed Triple R

Ski joring with Bentley

PH2 feature: Inside Triumph

Tell me I'm wrong: Honda Civic Type R (EP3)

Hammersmith Flyover: more than temporary trouble?

PH2 ridden: Suzuki GSX-R750

2012 Nissan GT-R at the 'ring

Driven: Mercedes Unimog

PH drives and rides of 2011

PH buying guide: BMW Z3 M Coupe

PH2 ridden: 2012 Suzuki V-Strom 650

PH2 ridden: Yamaha TMAX

PH goes big in Japan: part two

PH goes big in Japan: part one

Feature: Tokyo Motor Show 2011

Driven: Vauxhall Corsa VXR Nurburgring

Feature: Winter tyres - worth the bother?

Driven: Range Rover Evoque SD4 2.2 Dynamic Coupe

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Sebastien?

Driven: Artega GT

Rally GB: Retro Style

Jaguar and the future of fast cars

Driven: Ferrari 250 GTO Replica

Day In The Life: The Tyre Tester

PH Meets The 911's 'Director Of Emotions'

PH Buying Guide: Aston Martin DB7

PistonHeads gives you the chance to win a supercar

Power Brokers: Tuning At Frankfurt

Frankfurt: The Greatest Motor Show On Earth?

PH Does Pebble

PH Explores The Louwman Museum

PH Buying Guide: Noble M12

The £10K Porsche 911(996). Why wouldn't you?

Notes On The Nissan R35 GT-R

RS Royalty: The Bonkers Collection

Building A Better Lamborghini

PH2: Moto GP - Going Dutch

200mph(ish) For Under 40K? It's Not Rocket Science

PH Buying Guide: Lotus Elise S1

Jaguar's Triple Sports Car Treat

PH Interviews: The Man From Singer Porsche

The Lotus Five Year Plan - One Year In

Aston Martin: A Challenging Road Ahead?

PH Builds A 505hp Corvette V8...

Scirocco R vs. Scirocco Storm

Estate Of Play: Fast Wagons

Driven: Lotus Carlton

Caterham Sale: The Full Story

Me And My Car: John Watson

Auction Report: BCA 'Super Saturday'

PH Buying Guide: TVR Griffith

An 'M' For All Reasons?

968: The Perfect F/R Porsche?

PH Fleet Update: Merc C63 AMG And Leon Cupra R

Driven: Vauxhall VXR8

PH Interview: Lotus CEO Dany Bahar

McLaren Celebrates 30 Years Of Carbon Fibre

Geneva Show - From The Hot SEAT

Pagani Huayra Ready For Lift-Off

Open Season: Ferrari California

Range Rover Sport To The 'Ring

PH Investigates: Trouble At The 'Ring

PH Fleet: BMW M6 - The Final Chapter

The Auto Show We'd Pay To See

PH Detroit Show Report

Wafting In A Winter Wonderland

PH Buying Guide: Lamborghini Diablo

Showtime For Bikers At The NEC

GT5: Worth The Wait, Or Wot?

Essen Show - The PH Highlights

LA Show Preview: Range Rover Evoque 5-Door

PH Fleet Update: M6 On The Isle Of Man

The Best Garage On PistonHeads

Jaguar XJ LWB At The Nurburgring

Red Victor - A History Of A Very Fast Vauxhall

PH Comparo: BMW M6 vs Nissan GT-R

In Detail: Audi Quattro Concept

PH Buying Guide: Porsche 993

PH Paris Motor Show Round-Up

Driven: Mini Countryman

Driven: Porsche GT3

PH Fleet Update: Nissan 370Z

PH Buying Guide: Ferrari F355

Factory Tour: Behind The Scenes At McLaren

Beechdean Mansell: Le Mans Gallery

Driven: Polaris RZR S

PH Meets Lamborghini Boss

Jaguar XFR Vs. Aston Martin Rapide

PH Fleet: BMW M6 (Competition pack)

SLS AMG And The Carrera Panamerica

To Geneva By Rolls-Royce

PH Fleet update: BMW M3

Taking The Trackday Trophy Challenge

Aston Martin Rapide Revisited

Renaultsport Megane 250 Reader Test

Geneva: 2uettottanta By Pininfarina

Geneva Special: Ferrari's Hybrid Future

Q&A: Stephane Ratel, 2010 FIA GT1 Boss

PH Fleet Update: Jaguar XFR

Defender Of The Faith

Out On Track In A Caterham Seven Academy Car

Interview: Lee Noble / Fenix Automotive

Awakening The Ghosts Of Reims

Video: PH Meets Godzilla At The 'Ring

Racing A Caterham R300

Crazy Concept Corner: Part 1

Part II: GT-R/ Kazutoshi Mizuno Interview

Nissan GT-R: Kazutoshi Mizuno Interview

Driven: MINI E

Three Men In A Car: To Frankfurt By Panamera

Jaguar XFR At The Nurburgring

PH Interview: Westfield Sportscars Boss

PH Fleet: Porsche 944 S2

Lotus Exige Nurburgring Experience

Advertorial - Insignia VXR Gets A BTCC Workout

PH Fleet: Mazda MX-5 Arrives (With Grandad)

Clio Renaultsport 200 (Cup Chassis)

PH Fleet: Evo And Out...

PH Zeroes: Volkswagen Beetle

Le Mans Odyssey Part 3: Audi R8

Driven: Lexus LF-A 5.0 V10 Coupe

PH Fleet: Evo X Takes On A Tank Track

Rolls-Royce Phantom Menace

Le Mans Odyssey Part 2: Morgan 4/4 Sport

Le Mans Odyssey Part 1: Aston Martin DB9

PH interview: Jaguar's Handling Guru

Interview: Caterham Cars MD

PH Le Mans Heroes

Exclusive: Le Mans - The Racer's View

Gone in 60 Seconds

Morgan SuperSports - Inside Story

Volkswagen Golf GTI

Nissan GT-R Ready For Le Mans

Porsche Panamera at the track

MINI John Cooper Works Reader Test

What Credit Crunch?

PH Zeroes: Mitsubishi 3000GT

PH Zeroes: Ford Mustang II

Al Melling Interview

PH Goes for a Spin in a Porsche

PH Zeroes: Rambo Lambo

PetrolTed Interview

Joy Ride

PH Zeroes: Alfa Arna

Ferrari 430 Scuderia

Porsche 911 Turbo

Twingo Renaultsport 133

Caterham R400 Superlight

Wiesmann GT MF4

Touring Car Battle: E30 Vs E90

Noble Interview

Supercar In The City

Rendezvous II

Corvette Z06 Road Trip

Storm Chaser

Robb Gravett Driving Course

Million Pound Morning

Project Retirement Rocket PART 2.

GTechniq Magic Goo

PH drives the Caparo T1

Project Retirement Rocket PART 1

First Drive: Gumpert Apollo

Hot hatch debate

BP 102 Fuel

Transformers, motorhomes in disguise

I wouldn't be seen dead in that...

Lamborghini's Stephan Winkelmann speaks out

Auto Union: Audi's ancestor

Sub-£10k super-saloons

Michiel van den Brink

Ariel's boss Simon Saunders

Porsche 959 v 997 Turbo

Staples-to-Naples rally 2006

Lotus' new boss: Mike Kimberley

Honda ADAS

Watkins Glen International

Bio-fuelled Lotus Exige 265E

Talking to Bentley

Ton-up for Lancia

Birth of the Noble M15

Lifting the lid

Buying a DB7

Classic Adelaide Rally 2005

Modifying a Lotus Esprit S4

Jaguar XJ-S

Staples2Naples 2005

totalkitcar LIVE!

Prescott Speed Hillclimb

Aston’s new age

Crash Course

Nick Mason

Sport-Auto German Tuner Grand Prix

Fastrak - a track day plus

Marcos TSO GT2 Coupé

Ian Callum

Bentley Continental Flying Spur

Lamborghini Miura at 40

Track Club opens for business

Audi quattro

TVR Drive Day at Loch Lomond

End of the E-Type

Power Torque Engineering

Which is faster, Porsche or Ferrari?

Diesel engines torque it up

BBR Astons

Cannonball Run Europe 2004

Vantage Points

S Sport VX

Alfa Giulietta -- what’s in a name?

Classic Car Club

Lotus execs speak out

Ultima Sports

Simbin GTR

Coventry Transport Museum

Circuit des Remparts

Ride Drive

Henrik Fisker

Segway

2003 Supercar Rally

SmartNav Reviewed

QV8 Coupe

Ferrari Festival

007's New Motors

Le Mans 2002

Tour Auto 2002

BJT Open Day









More...

Older features




No matter how much we like rapid cars, most car enthusiasts will go through a practicality crisis at some point in their lives. Many of us will get genuinely sensible and throw in the performance towel in favour of something that's more white good than motor car, although you may be able to keep something more appealing tucked up in a garage for high days and holidays.


But for those petrolheads who are unwilling to compromise their yearning for pace in the face of their need for space, there is a solution - go and buy a fast estate. It's a combination that's currently winning quite a few friends in the PH office at the moment, and editor Chris-R is particularly fond of the PH Fleet C63 AMG estate's ability to lug copious amounts of kit along at improbably high speeds. Provided you can afford to foot the fuel bills (the C63 is quite capable of descending to MPGs in the low teens) it's an intoxicating combination.

Curiously, though, the idea of providing a vehicle that can haul an entire family's stuff along at a committed and rapid pace is one that mainstream manufacturers took a long time to come around to. Pedants may argue that the performance estate theory was espoused by models such as Reliant Scimitar GTE in the late 60s or the Lancia Beta HPE in the 70s, but it wasn't until the 1990s that car makers were really turned on the performance wagon pound.


You could argue that the Subaru Legacy Turbo wagon kicked off the modern fast estate era in 1991, but the Legacy's (for want of a better word) legacy is really about powering a certain young Scot through the world's rally stages. So we have decided it can't come and play in our informal group test. Likewise, the 1992 E34 BMW M5 Touring was a modern performance estate pioneer, but that was only available in left-hand drive.

More to the point, we're not pretending that the five cars assembled here are a definitive collection of the best or most significant fast estates (although each one is significant and/or brilliant in its own way), but they are indicative of the variety of possibilities, should you decide to point your hard-earned in the direction of a fast estate.


So, alongside the PH Fleet Mercedes C63 AMG on a sunny Surrey lunchtime we gathered, courtesy of some tame (and very kind) PHers, a random(ish) sampling of the rapid wagon genre in the form of an Audi RS4, an Audi RS2, an MG ZT-T V8 and a Volvo 850 R.

It's quite a disparate bunch, really. The cheapest car is worth a little less than £2k, while our Merc (when it was brand-new) tipped just beyond £71.5k with its various options. Meanwhile you can choose between front-, rear- or four-wheel drive, five or eight cylinders, and turbochargers or natural aspiration. The only thing that really connects all the cars (apart from the two Audis; that link is fairly obvious) is a shared goal - to move around large amounts of luggage at equally large speeds...

So what do their owners think of them and, perhaps more importantly, what do they think of everybody else's cars...?


Chris - MG ZT-T 260

"It's an absurd car that should never have been made - but I'm glad they did!" says Chris about his not-so-subtle green and determinedly rear-drive V8 MG

Power: 256bhp
0-60mph: 6.3secs
Top speed: 155mph

Read more about Chris's V8 MG ZT-T

 

 

 


Jeremy - Audi RS2

"The RS2 is still the granddaddy of fast estates - it's a modern icon" says Jeremy of his beloved Audi - and with 315bhp, four-wheel-drive and the magic fairy dust of Porsche sprinkled all over it you'd have to say he's got a point.

Power: 315bhp
0-60mph: 4.8secs
Top speed: 162mph

Read more about Jeremy's Audi RS2

 

 


Gareth - Volvo 850 R

"I reckon it's pretty much the best value performance estate you can buy at the moment" reckons Gareth. "A newer car might be more reliable, but when you're having fun who cares?" Who cares indeed, especially if you're driving around in a car that's the direct spiritual descendant of the one that shook up the BTCC in 1994.

Power: 240bhp (auto) 250bhp (manual)
0-60mph: 7.6secs (auto) 6.7secs (manual)
Top speed: 153mph (auto) 156mph (manual)

Read more about Gareth's 850 R

 

 


Smita - Audi RS4 Avant

"It's just so composed and refined," says Smita, "and I think that even after four years it still feels fresh - to look at and to drive." It certainly doesn't feel outgunned, with 414bhp from its naturally aspirated V8...

Power: 414bhp
0-60mph: 4.5secs
Top speed: 155mph

Read more about Smita's RS4

 

 


Riggers - PH Fleet C63 AMG estate

"The C63 is so fast it almost seems impolite - especially since this one is fitted with the performance Pack" says, er, me. They surely can't be allowed to make engines like this for much longer, so the 6.2-litre V8 in our beloved Merc could well make it one of the last of a dying breed of German muscle car.

Power: 478bhp
0-60mph: 4.5secs
Top speed: 155mph

Read more about the PH Fleet C63 AMG

 

Pics: George Williams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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