Tested: sporty estates from Volvo, Seat and Skoda

What do you get if you combine a hot hatch, a sensible estate and a high-speed saloon? (Apart from a huge accident, obviously.) VW started the hot hatch idea but have never offered a GTI estate. The company is unlikely to since there are several fairly feisty estates already within the VW Group.

But if you want the drivetrain from the stonking Golf R and a big boot then there’s the Seat Leon ST Cupra, and if you went for a Skoda Octavia you could have the vRS which gives you 227bhp yet a price that starts £1500 under even a three-door Golf GTI.

But if you want to add more budget you could go for the turbocharged, supercharged, tricked-out Volvo V60 AWD, along with 362bhp. Might that be worth a nadge under £50,000? Or should you choose the Skoda Octavia vRS Estate, which is all but half that price, at £26,385?

Sitting in the middle, at £34,485, is the Seat Leon although it feels a well-equipped and smart alternative, even if the cabin and boot does feel a bit small compared to the cavernous Skoda. It actually feels virtually on a par with the much more expensive Volvo, but that’s partly down to the Volvo being a much older design, feeling every one of its six years.

But the Volvo has a sort of brooding presence to it, as well as adjustable suspension, all-wheel drive and that 2.0-litre engine supported by both a supercharger and a turbocharger. But it can feel a bit cumbersome, not helped by slow and heavy steering. However, the Ohlins dampers do a great job of tying the Volvo down.

The Skoda has notably more suspension travel in its passive set up, which just about has enough control to allow you to lollop along with some degree of carefree fun. It works as an estate, and it’s definitely helped by being quite light even though it’s a big car. With about 400kg less than the Volvo to lug about, it can shift about quite neatly for its size, more so than the relatively lumbering Volvo.

The Seat, once again, sits somewhere in the middle, especially if you stay in Comfort mode – having some modes to play with does mean the Seat can be a really friendly long-distance companion, whatever the road surface is doing. It would be better if that Golf R set up included the latest seven-speed auto box, with the six-speed fitted meaning a slightly less leisurely progression down the motorways, but it’s still a nice set up to have underneath you.

As it stands, the transmission shifts quickly and unobtrusively while the huge wodge…

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