It’s hard to resist the seriously rapid estate; a car that has been simultaneously engineered to leave others in its dust, while also, somewhat improbably, carrying bags of dust. Or planks, or garden clippings, or any of the other detritus that will inevitably find its way into the back over its lifetime.
The Audi RS2 from 1994 is a popular origin story for how this cultish corner of the market came to be. Audi enlisted Porsche to help turn a trusty family wagon into a 311bhp speed machine that could hit 163mph. Pity the dog whose rug was first thrown down into the back of one.
BMW have been there from the beginning, too, and perhaps most notable of all its estate models is the 2007 M5 Touring, which featured a majestic, naturally-aspirated 5.0-litre V10 engine producing over 500bhp. Neutral observers might reasonably ask, “Why?”.
Well, there’s more to their appeal than a mid-life fantasy pitched at men gripping on tight to some token independence in the face of growing storage demands. (Isn’t there?)
The SUV’s arrival pushed the fast estate further to the margins, and this enduring underdog status remains a big part of the estate’s charm. Even the quickest and flashiest of them have a stealthy quality. You wouldn’t necessarily know just how fast they can go when you pull up next to one.
All right, the new and brilliantly menacing Audi RS6 is one exception. This is the preeminent fast estate; with performance from its growling 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 that would beat many supercars in a straight race to the Homebase car park. You have to respect the fact that Audi only produces the RS6 in estate form.
It looks sensational, too. Estate car design in general has evolved; their now curvy silhouettes, inspired by old “shooting brakes”, often appear statuesque against their blocky and ubiquitous SUV rivals. And that’s before we’ve even got to how they drive. Sporty SUVs are invariably a misnomer. They’re powerful sure, but their height and weight make most feel more tankish than rakish. Lighter, lower and with better weight distribution, driving a fast estate is a far more direct and dynamic experience.
Now we have the most unapologetically modern entrant to the genre with the all-electric Porsche Taycan 4 Cross Turismo. The original Taycan saloon launched in 2019 to almost universal acclaim. Here is the estate version (priced from £79,340) which somehow carries even greater presence than the original. Porsche’s positioning for this car is more “active outdoorsman” than “guy who frequently visits the recycling centre”; weekend warrior over worrier. It’s off-road capable for a start, with a “gravel mode” that raises the suspension and adapts chassis settings for dirt tracks, beaches or, perhaps, festival parking.
There’s an “off-road design package” too, featuring protective strips on the front, side skirts, and rear diffuser strips. It sure looks good even if it never leaves town. There’s also a plethora of extra kit options: roof rails, storage boxes and a rear carrier for three bikes.
And it’s exhilaratingly quick: 0–62mph in 2.9secs in Turbo S form. That’s faster than the original Taycan thanks to a 2021 “over-the-air” software update. With your foot down in sport mode, it whirrs like a space ship but is glued to the road like a go-kart. The steering is precise, cornering as if it’s on rails.
Porsche say that one-third of all its UK cars ordered in 2021 are a Taycan. And one-third of those are this new Cross Turismo. The estate’s plucky underdog status is now officially under threat. Here is one for the present and future.
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