Forget the SUV, a station wagon is, in our opinion, the most practical car body style for Australians to buy.
The reality is that most SUVs rarely see a hint of dirt or mud in their life – instead, being consigned to a life of school runs and weekly grocery shops. It certainly begs the question, why isn’t the station wagon just as, if not more popular? A favourite of Europeans, station wagons can often provide just as much (if not more) practicality in a body style that is easier to maneuver, is more stable in corners and often more economical.
If anything, they tick more boxes than most other cars, yet rarely see the light of day on Australia’s roads, largely due to their lower-down driving position. We here at DMARGE are big fans of the station wagon (three of the team own one) and would hate for it to become extinct in Australia.
We, therefore, felt it time to put together a list of the best station wagons currently available to buy Down Under, many of which combine looks, power, practicality and, ultimately, a fun driving experience.
In this best station wagon guide…
Audi RS 6 Avant
Fuel Economy: 11.7 L/100km
Cargo Space: 565 – 1,680 litres
Price: From AU $245,183 Drive Away
We’re sure many of you will recognise the Audi RS 6 Avant (station wagon). The fierce, angry-looking machine is one of the leading figures in Audi’s RS line-up and boasts a 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbo engine under the hood – delivering 441 kW of power, a top speed of 305km/h and a 0-100km/h time of 3.6-seconds – and some of the largest fenders we’ve ever seen on a car, making it one of the best station wagons to grace Australia’s road.
Inside, however, the experience is a lot more refined. Audi is known for its high-quality interiors that are both luxurious and user-friendly, and the RS 6 Avant is no exception. Fine leather at the touch of all surfaces, bucket seats that hold you tight, and lashings of the latest technologies make for an incredibly pleasant place to sit.
With 565-litres of space in the back, expandable to 1,680-litres when you’re able to get rid of the kids and put the rear seats down, the Audi RS6 makes for a powerful workhorse. To top it off, you get Audi’s sublime Quattro four-wheel drive technology, meaning you can use the RS 6 all year round, with rain and snow (if you head to the mountains) being no challenge for this impressive German monster.
- Not as big as it looks.
- Still has the beefy V8 engine.
- Price… Very punchy.
- RS4 is just as good for a lot less.
Genesis G70 Shooting Brake
Fuel Economy: 9.0 L/100km
Cargo Space: 465 – 1200 litres
Price: $79,000 before on-road costs
Genesis is on a mission to offer Australian carbuyers an alternative when looking for something luxurious and practical. The South Korean manufacturer already has the wonderfully-equipped GV80 SUV and, while it doesn’t necessarily best its rivals when it comes to price, it at least justifies it much easier.
The same can be said of the Genesis GV70 Shooting Brake. To be honest, we’d pay whatever the asking price if our decision was based purely on looks, this is an incredibly attractive car. Genesis has taken the GV70 sedan and elongated it at the back to offer that little bit extra in terms of practicality, yet still keeping the overall profile one that is easy to manouvere around town.
The one main downside to the GV70 shooting brake is that, for some reason, Genesis has decided to not offer the rather potent twin-turbo V6 from its sedan sibling, as an engine option. The GV70 shooting brake will only be offered with a 2.0-litre turbocharged unit producing 179kW. And, with regards to price, it’s on par with its German equivalents, but Genesis does give you a much longer list of included equipment in return.
While space may be a little limited for those in the back due to the sloping roofline, the driver and passenger are enveloped in pure luxury. As for the drive, it probably won’t rival the likes of Audi or BMW, and is geared more towards comfort than outright fun. If the main bulk of your driving is spent on motorways, the Genesis GV70 shooting brake is a perfect car for you.
BMW M3 Competition Touring
Fuel Economy: 10.3 L/100km
Cargo Space: 500 – 1,510 litres
It feels like a long time coming, but we can finally say the BMW M3 Touring is on its way to Australia, and we couldn’t be more excited. A superfast BMW wagon is something many motorists have been pining for and finally the Munich-based manufacturer has answered our prayers.
While actual driving performance has yet to be formally tested, the numbers of the BMW M3 Competition Touring make for impressive reading. The 3.0-litre turbocharged flat six produces 375kW/650Nm of power, enough to propel it to 100km/h from a standstill in 3.6-seconds, just 0.1-seconds longer than the M3 sedan.
This is a fast wagon, make no mistake. So fast, in fact, that is now holds the record for the fastest lap time around the notorious Nürburgring by a whopping 10-seconds. This has been helped by the number of ‘M’ branded packages installed, including M suspension, M servotronic steering and M compound brakes. Whilen this may be technical jargon to most, what it means in the real world is that the M3 Touring isn’t just fast in a straight line, but it can more than hold its own in the corners.
And of course, being a wagon, it’s practical too. So you can easily chuck the kids and some luggage in the back and speed off to your holiday destination in record time. We’ll have to wait until it finally arrive on Australian shores to be sure, but we’re pretty confident the BMW M3 Competition Touring could be the perfect car.
- Finally, the M car we’ve been waiting for.
- Good looking, stonker of an engine, practical.
- Divisive front grille design.
- The Competition-only spec means you’ll need to bring your driving A-game.
Volkswagen Golf R Wagon
Fuel Economy: 7.4 L/100km
Cargo Space: 611 – 1,642 litres
Price: From AU $75,753 Drive Away
Coming in at a considerably more affordable price-point than other models on this list, yet still offering plenty of practicality and performance for Australians, is the Volkswagen Golf R Wagon. From the outside, the Golf R Wagon is certainly more unassuming than its compatriots, especially those of a ‘hotter’ nature, with the only real discernible giveaway as to this station wagon’s speedy credentials is the R designation on the boot lid.
The 2.0l engine gives out 235kW of power, which sure, is far less than the likes of the Audi and BMW, but at around a quarter of the cost, we’re not complaining. You’ll still be pushed back into your seat when you press your foot down to the floor even when the rear is full of kids a week’s worth of luggage. Of course, take the Golf R Wagon out for a spin by yourself, and you’ll be rewarded with a thoroughly engaging driving experience. A full suite of driver safety features is available alongside a pumping sound system, making the Volkswagen Golf R Wagon the only car you need on your drive.
- Euro performance station wagon fun on the cheap.
- Cheaper to run than its rivals.
- A bit ‘cheap’ feeling inside.
- Might be a bit too small for some.
Porsche Taycan 4 CrossTurismo
Range: Up to 479km/291 miles
Cargo Space: 446 – 1,212 litres
Price: From AU $198,330 Drive Away
The Porsche Taycan CrossTurismo could also feature on our list of best electric cars, being a fully battery-powered wagon, but as it makes as much of a case for being a practical daily driver, it earns a spot on this list instead.
As with other Porsche models, the Taycan CrossTurismo is available in multiple trim levels: 4, 4S and Turbo (which doesn’t actually have a turbocharger) and for the purposes of this summary, we’re looking at the Base model.
Make no mistake, the base model is hardly a slouch. The 280kW max power (350 with overboost) will send you to 100km/h in a smidge over 5-seconds which we appreciate isn’t exactly supercar speed by today’s standards, but we can’t imagine many people will be complaining. Of course, anyone buying an electric car will be mostly interested in the range, and Porsche’s claim of 291 miles/469km is pretty competitive. The best part about the Taycan is that it offers up to 270kW DC superfast charging, if you can find a station that supports it, of course. Do so though, and you can recharge your Taycan CrossTurismo in around 25-minutes.
You do get a generous amount of equipment as standard, but it wouldn’t be Porsche without an extensive and expensive list of optional extras. But, if you’ve got the money to buy a Porsche in the first place, we don’t think this will be a concern.
As for the drive, the Taycan 4 CrossTurismo is almost identical to the Panamera (which is essentially a ICE-powered CrossTurismo). It’s an incredible experience and one that really does make a strong case for electric vehicles being just as good as, if not better than their combustion engine counterparts. It’s quick (very quick), handles well into corners and is also comfortable around town. The perfect daily driver? It’s definitely up there.
- One of the best-handling large cars on the market.
- Porsche reliability and refinement is second to none.
- Rear space is limited.
- Superfast charging infrastructure still not quite good enough.
Škoda Octavia RS Wagon
Fuel Economy: 6.8 L/100km
Cargo Space: 600 – 1,555 litres
Price: From AU $57,790 Drive Away
Škoda, while being part of the Volkswagen Group, used to be seen as the runt of the pack. That is certainly no longer the case, as the Czech carmaker is now easily on par with its German cousins (along with Spanish brand SEAT), offering quality builds, plentiful features and technologies and great styling to boot. It also has a very hot station wagon up its sleeves: the Octavia RS.
Škoda’s RS cars are revered for their outright performance, especially when you consider the low price you pay for the car itself. It’s very much an ‘if you know, you know’ vibe. The Octavia RS’ 2.0-litre turbocharged engine is the same unit that’s found in the Golf R, albeit slightly less powerful (the Octavia station wagon is also longer, heavier and wider than the Golf R wagon).
In recent years, Škoda has shown more of a tendency to diverge from the Volkswagen Group’s cookie-cutter approach and step out on its own a bit more. This is evident in the Octavia’s interior design, which is far more tech and feature-heavy than its siblings. Oh yeah, and you get an umbrella in the door as you do with a Rolls-Royce. Neat, hey?
- A cheaper, practical Golf R Wagon.
- Looks awesome, especially with those five-spoke rims.
- Where’s the manual?
- Škoda brand doesn’t have the same cache as VW… Depreciation will probably sting.
Volvo V60 Cross Country
Fuel Economy: 7.3 L/100km
Cargo Space: 529 litres+ (TBC)
Price: From AU $71,525 Drive Away
Volvo and station wagons go together like two peas in a pod, with the Swedish carmaker’s late-90s V70 wagon being an icon among people-moving workhorses. Today, the company is at the top of its game when it comes to design and safety features, and these are both evident in the Volvo V60 Cross Country.
The V60 Cross Country features all-wheel drive and a high-riding stance, perfect for off-road station wagon action. Power will come from a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder, paired to a 48-volt mild-hybrid system for a combined total of 184kW, in line with Volvo’s plans to quickly electrify their fleet.
And, as expected, hailing from Scandinavia, the Volvo is a thoroughly good-looking car, exhibiting clean lines and minimalist design. We can’t wait for it to arrive Down Under.
- Safe as houses for the family. It’s a Volvo.
- Impressive all-terrain capability.
- Volvos will never be sexy.
- Hybrid powertrain might be offputting for some.
Mazda 6 Atenza Wagon
Fuel Economy: 7.6 L/100km
Cargo Space: 506 – 1,648 litres
Price: From AU $56,827 Drive Away
Finally, a non-Euro entry! Like most other Japanese car marques in Australia, Mazda’s primary source of revenue comes from its SUV range. The Mazda6 is the sole station wagon in its repertoire and can be had in one of four variants. We’ve gone for the range-topping Atenza variant, which gains all the specs and features of the three models beneath it but adds a larger 7-inch digital driver display, ventilated front seats (to keep your rear-end cool in summer) and Nappa leather upholstery at every turn.
Elsewhere you get a loud and proud Bose sound system and a shed load of safety technologies. All that in a package that costs less than $60,000. A bargain if you ask us. As for performance, you’ll hardly be left wanting. It obviously won’t rival the performance station wagons for outright speed, but for refinement, it’s up there with the very best. You’ll appreciate the handling in corners all without the distraction of wind and tyre noise, which are kept to a mind-boggling minimum.
The Mazda brand may not win you as many cool points as some others either, but if you’re on a budget yet need something practical, it’s hard to pass up the opportunity.
- Luxury and refinement that rivals (or betters) Euro options for a fraction of the price.
- Incredibly reliable and cheap to service.
- Not Euro, and not really a luxury marque… It’s a hard sell.
- No manual option, and the automatic gearbox + engine management is rather sedate.
Peugeot 508 Sportswagon
Fuel Economy: 6.3 L/100km
Cargo Space: 530 – 1,780 litres
Price: From AU $71,004 Drive Away
French automaker Peugeot is one that has undergone a dramatic image shift in recent years. What was once seen as perhaps more of a budget brand now comfortably holds its own against the biggest names in the game. With improvements in all areas including design, ride quality and features offered as standard, Peugeot is not one to be overlooked anymore.
The 508 Sportswagon is a prime example of why. If it’s cargo space you’re after, it’s virtually unchallenged, with nearly 1,800-litres of space on offer when the rear seats are folded. A 165kW engine provides enough power to get up to – and cruise at – highway speeds (this isn’t a performance station wagon, remember) and with Nappa leather, roof bars and an impressive sound system from fellow French brand Focal to pump tunes around the cabin, you definitely get your money’s worth.
Make no mistake, this is a good looking and cool car, too. Frameless doors mean the roofline can be lowered to give it a much sportier guise, and mean it won’t look out of place when pulling up outside the fanciest of inner-city hotspots.
- Zippy and full of flair.
- More reliable than the Gallic reputation might suggest.
- Hard to justify the price.
- Limited dealer/service network can be a hassle.