You don't need big bucks to get behind the wheel of a high-performance estate. Once the preserve of Audi, BMW and Mercedes fans, a new generation of value-for-money models is becoming big news for family car drivers, too.
Even Czech maker Skoda is in on the act, with the brilliant Octavia vRS estate. Sharing the honour of being the fastest road car the firm has ever built with the Octavia vRS hatchback (which we drove in issue 890), the load-lugger gets the same 200bhp 1,984cc turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
As it weighs 1,485kg - only 15kg more than the hatch - its real-world performance is virtually identical to the five-door's. The estate will sprint from 0-60mph in 7.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 149mph. Engineers have also worked on the ride and handling with much success. Just like the hatch, the load-lugger has been reinforced in many areas to increase the body's torsional strength and rigidity. The suspension has been lowered 12mm and modified in the spring and shocks departments for a sporty feel. The ride is firm, but not uncomfortable.
Crucially, the large load area is extremely versatile, with a maximum of 1,620 litres of stowage space, while a low lip means that moving bulky items is easy. And thanks to the careful design, you could argue the estate is more attractive than the hatch, although both get deep bumpers, green brake calipers and 17-inch alloys.
At £18,350, the Octavia seems tremendous value when compared with other sporty estates on the market. It's a good quality, high-performance car with versatility that few rivals are able to match.