Mercedes-Benz made huge efforts to improve quality with this C-Class, and it does have an unimpeachable nature to it. It’s by no means flawless: the design of the interior is rather stoic, and Mercedes’ propensity to use lots of high-tech engineering solutions to make sure their cars are ‘engineered like no other’ means that it get expensive when parts break or wear out. But the C-Class Estate still has one of the largest boots in its class, which, along with handsome looks and that branding behind it, makes it a highly desirable used estate.
Desirability is something that Audi has managed to somehow engineer into its A4 Avant. This is an estate that doesn’t feel like some unrefined workhorse: its sloping rear roofline makes it just as stylish as the A4 saloon. While the A4 Avant's boot isn’t the largest in the class, it’s covered in quality carpet, adorned with chrome hooks to tie things down and has neat cubbyholes to make intelligent use of what space there is. Along with the solidity of its nicely finished dashboard, all that means there are few estates that are quite as classy.
You may have to settle for a 5 Series Touring with more mileage than some of the others in this list, but it will be worth it because of this car’s consummate all-round abilities. There is a large range of engines to choose from, but the most popular 520d diesel provides the best blend of performance and economy. Watch for timing chain problems on early, high-mileage 518d and 520d models (this seems to have been fixed on post-2013 facelift cars), but find a good one, and you will have a great value used estate on your driveway.
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