PH 2021 | Best nearly new fast estate to buy

PH 2021 | Best nearly new fast estate to buy


Fast wagons now come in all available flavours – here are the ones to buy

By PH Staff / Thursday, December 30, 2021 / Loading comments

Alpina D3 S Touring

Earlier in the year we ran a M340d Touring on the PH Fleet. I liked it very much. It was everything you expect from a 340hp oil-burning BMW wagon: fast, snug, fabulous to use, nice to look at – no reasonable person could ask for more. Then I drove the latest Alpina D3 S, and it turned out there was more. For a not unreasonable amount of money, the M340d had been made modestly, but tangibly, better in almost every facet. Which was easily sufficient to make it one of the best cars I drove this year.

Now, true enough, there is also a B3 Touring, and that’s fabulous, too. But – in case you hadn’t heard – there will be a M3 Touring next year, and, given the all-round appeal of the xDrive in saloon format, it would be difficult to recommend Alpine’s version without at least pausing to see what BMW’s in-house effort is like. Yet clearly it won’t be doing the business end of 40mpg, nor provide you with 538lb ft of torque from 1,750rpm – and, no matter the slow death of diesel cars, those things really do seem like the cherry on Alpina’s cake.

Here’s a 2021 example in black, which ought to embody just the right kind of subtlety in the flesh. Sure, it’s got the look-at-me lettering, but it also has a correctly proportioned grille, so there’s that. Mostly though it’s about getting your hands on one of the quickest and best riding real-world performance cars that money can buy. Quite a lot of money, admittedly, at £65,000 – although it’s worth noting that the car we tested back in the spring was optioned to £70k. Which honestly did it no harm at all. NC

Mercedes-AMG C63 S

I must be honest, I didn’t like the Mercedes-AMG C63 S when it arrived back in 2015. It felt like a rush job. A rare occurrence of AMG dropping the ball. So when I went out to Trieste in Italy to drive the convertible in 2017, my red pen was at the ready. Only I had to change the ink because it was fantastic. Just goes to show, you have to keep an open mind in this job. The transformation was, among other things, down to the revised multi-link rear suspension set-up and I’ll never forget hacking round some wonderful roads away from the port revelling in its abilities.

Eventually, the changes appeared on all the C63s but throughout its life it just seemed to keep getting better. I remember testing an estate against the then-new Audi RS4 Avant. The RS4 was quick and comfortable on the road but as exciting as toast. Even so, I thought that its quattro advantage would destroy the C63 out on track. Wrong again. The RS4 was a boat and one of the worst Audis I can remember in a long time. The C63 S Estate, on the other hand, which I thought would struggle at ten-tenths, was brilliant. That day it won me over completely, and to this day I would have one over an Alfa Giulia Quadrifoglio and a new M3, which is a car I like a lot. That fabulous V8 bi-turbo engine is undoubtedly the C63’s party piece, but I also love the way it steers, the body control (when you stick the suspension in Sport+) and the fact that it’s so playful – more than any 500hp RWD car has the right to be.

Certainly I lament its demise, especially because its replacement is ditching the V8 and going to four cylinders. But thank sweet Jesus for PistonHeads because we’re able to serve up a used one like this. In fact, it’s the only estate I found and that’s the one you want: a proper attack car with the ability to attack the day-to-day chores, too. And this specification is oh-bejesus good. Selenite Grey, black multi-spokes and red calipers, complimented by the two-tone Nappa leather inside. Moan about the price if you want to – yeah, it’s not cheap, I know – but this thing will rock your world. JH

Porsche Taycan 4S Cross Turismo

If some way from an epiphany, then it was a stark realisation. We play fantasy garages at PH all the time, and here was one parked in a Beachy Head layby. (Well, the vaguely realistic fantasy garage; the true one would resemble Fast & Furious: Goodwood Revival.) There was a Porsche Taycan and a Caterham Seven on the same photoshoot. If it had to be two cars for the rest of time, I thought – and still think – they made a great pair. It wouldn’t have been those exact two (Taycan Turbo too fast, Caterham 170R too slow) but a throwback and a trendsetter really complement each other.

I can’t pretend a Panamera Sport Turismo didn’t appeal in the fast wagon stakes, because I love a V8 as much as the next PHer. Ditto the AMG estates. And I spent the bank’s money on my own 155mph BMW Touring, so the Alpina needs no explanation. The fast estate field is fearsomely strong right now – nobody has mentioned an RS6, which is, in case you’d forgotten, extravagantly fast. But in matching those as driver’s cars and delivering a richer experience than many other (admittedly cheaper) EVs, the Taycan Sport Turismo is mighty compelling.

As a £150k Porsche ought to be, you’ll say. And the variant’s prices are unlikely to descend from the stratosphere anytime soon. But I’ll bet we didn’t expect electric estates to be this good, this quick. As a 4S Cross Turismo, it has a more than ample 490hp and a 300-mile WLTP range; while black should never be allowed for estates, this one is equipped with some nice options. Now I just need to find a Seven… MB

  • 2021 Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo | PH Review
  • 2021 Alpina D3 S Touring | PH Review
  • Mercedes-AMG C63 S vs. Audi RS4

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