Volvo V60 Polestar, 2015, 75k, £23,995
Not the biggest, fastest or sharpest estate, the V60 Polestar remains coveted nonetheless. The combination of chiseled good looks, inline-six power and Polestar panache – including Ohlins shocks, among others – contributed to this. The original 3.0-litre Polestar (a 2.0-litre twin-charged model replaced it after a few years) also came out of nowhere, with the Polestar going from tuning upgrades to the introduction of a 365 hp bolt from the Rebel Blue. In a market dominated by German rivals, it was a bit different. If a bit pricey and not quite perfect of something different, so not sold much. On the other hand, it is now rare and holds its value well: this white V60 has done 75,000 miles since 2015 and is not far off its new price, at £23,995. Plus, it’s still a Volvo under the Polestar, so it’ll be good for at least another 200,000…
Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, 2014, 44k, £29,990
Obviously, you can’t talk about fast properties without some sort of AMG; the difficulty is choosing one. From CLA to CLS Shooting Brake and C43 to C63, there’s an embarrassment of riches out there when it comes to £30,000 wagons. We opted for an S212-era E63 here, what might be called the last of the old-school AMG E-Classes. (Which will be made to look very old school when the four-cylinder arrives.) So it’s still just rear-wheel-drive, still has a ginormous V8 (5.5-litres, with two turbos), and still has looks modest to the point of ordinary – good AMG, in other words. Black with more black isn’t exactly stock spec, although if there ever was a car to fit it, the E63 probably is. With only 44,000 miles and a trunk liner already in place for the pooch, it’s a powerful way spend £30,000.
SEAT Leon Cupra, 2020, 8k, £28,450
The newest car in our group, the old SEAT Leon Cupra, looks more attractive every month. Because here’s a car as fast as a new Cupra Leon station wagon but without the boring interior and weird badging. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it’s also the most pleasing car to look at. For thousands of pounds less than new, if maybe a bit more than you might expect (welcome used cars in 2022). But the SEAT still has a lot to offer; here’s a car with all the attributes the Golf R was lauded for – ample all-weather performance, confident handling, a little space – in a more affordable package. 4Drive models come with DSG only, to complete the mini-RS4 feel. This one is still a long way off 10,000 miles and £1,500 under budget – it’s not just V8s and rare Volvos to groove here…
Audi S6 Avant, 2015, 75k, £27,990
But if there’s a V8 on the table… Typically, we’d steer you towards an RS product as soon as the Audi wagons are on the table, but, frankly, they don’t come cheap. And as the end is near for internal combustion, the best of the back catalog is becoming highly prized. Whisper it, then, but for real quick family chores an Audi S Avant might be a better bet – less snappy, cheaper and probably better suited to hauling a lot of stuff over a long distance. However, still with an excess of performance, as found in this 450hp S6 Avant. And with just the tiny grille badge and mirrors to give the game away, nobody would be the wiser – that’s how fast a domain should be. A few miles made the interior shiny, but that can be sorted – just think of the engine…
Skoda Superb 2.0 TSI 272, 2019, 17k, £28,950
It’s true that many, if not the most affordable, fast station wagons have something of the “sense shoe”, but the fastest Superb takes the concept almost to its logical conclusion. The 272hp variant isn’t the wagon to buy if you want to smoke hot hatch owners; it’s too lazy and too marshmallow for that. But it’s huge and extremely friendly, and is pleasantly anonymous in a way that most fast domains aren’t. Which means you can buy one without attracting unwanted attention. In particular in Laurin + Klement trim, which sheds the usual Sportline garlands in favor of a flagship quality ambience. You won’t want comfort or toys. Body control at the top, maybe – but that’s what the rest of this list is for.
BMW 540i xDrive Touring, 2018, 69k, £26,500
Another of the subtle but supremely efficient school, the BMW 540i arguably doesn’t get the attention it deserves. It lacks the M Performance billing that the smaller 340i gets with the same engine, and isn’t as trendy as the X3 and X4 SUVs which also use the B58 3.0-litre straight-six. So much the better, then, for minimum hassle and maximum utility; with 340 hp and 369 lb-ft, a 540i will hit 62 mph in 5.1 seconds. And with the seats folded down, there’s a whopping 1,700 liters of boot space. Talk about the best of both worlds. That’s without mentioning how well-sorted the xDrive system is. Like the AMG, this BMW is pretty dark, but most G31 540is are still above budget. This one, thanks to nearly 70,000 miles, is under £3,500. This will easily cover getting the silver wheels, at least.