Thursday, 25 April 2019

Whoever said family estate cars were on the road to nowhere?

by Nigel Wigmore

THERE must have been times when there were those who believed that the humble estate car had reached the crossroads of its long life and was about to take the road to oblivion.

The very term “estate car” seems dated when set alongside such modern variants of cars such as compact crossovers, super minis and SUVs (sports utility vehicles). I am sure our earlier ancestors — those intrepid first motorists — would laugh now at such self-conscious names.

Posh appendages have even been derived for our modest estate car, such as calling it a tourer. But my favourite remains “shooting brake” — another one for an estate car that originated from using an estate for shooting parties. (Actually, come to think of it, I think “tourer” is also a blast from the past.)

What is certain is that in this, the early part of the 21st century, car makers are wisely reluctant to banish this useful mode of transport. On the contrary, the trusty old estate has survived, and even thrived.

At first sight this week’s drive — the new Volkswagen Golf Estate — does not quite have the svelte good looks of the successful new Golf hatchback. There is nothing racy about this estate — maybe it was the colour of the test car which was a rather moderate blue. But to a degree its very “estate car” look confirms my earlier observation that this is a type of vehicle, though tried and tested down the decades, that continues along its merry way eschewing modern trends and fads.


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