First drive: Cadillac BLS Estate

* BLS Wagon 1.9D tested * Prices from £21,495 to £27,495 * Four petrols, two diesels...

First drive: Cadillac BLS Estate

The Americans love a bit of in-your-face styling - that's why Cadillacs are famous for massive fins, lashings of chrome and, thanks to Bruce Springsteen, being pink.

This fondness for flamboyance could also be why the firm has never produced an estate car - there's no place in Caddy showrooms for something so conservative. Until now, that is.

The new BLS Wagon looks pretty sexy by estate car standards, and the low pricing and heaving kit lists are tempting, too. There are three turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engines to choose from (173bhp, 197bhp bioethanol and 207bhp), a turbocharged 252bhp 2.8 V6 and two 1.9-litre turbodiesels (148bhp and 178bhp), with prices from £21,495 to £27,495.

The 148bhp 1.9-litre diesel version we've tested here costs £21,495 (£3500 cheaper than the equivalent BMW 3 Series Touring) and comes with sat-nav, electrically adjustable leather seats, climate and cruise controls, Bluetooth connectivity, alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, automatic wipers, stability control and six airbags.

Beware, though: weak resale values and higher running costs mean you'll pay far more than BMW buyers in the long run.

Don't expect BMW-like levels of dynamic talent, either. The BLS is based on the ageing Saab 9-3, and despite its own suspension settings, it's no more involving to drive, with soggy handling, woolly steering and a crashy ride.

The BLS's interior also doesn't have the class of its German rivals - the materials aren't as plush and the assembly isn't as flawless.

However, the dash shares many of the Saab's fixtures and fittings, so everything is incredibly easy to use. The seats are terrific, too, and the cabin has plenty of space.

It's also a reasonably useful estate. Yes, the 419-litre boot is marginally smaller than the BLS saloon's, but it's easier to load, thanks to a massive opening and the absence of a load lip.

Also, the volume can be extended to 1273 litres by folding the back seats down, and the load floor is almost flat.

• The BLS Estate is available now and costs between £21,495 and £27,495.