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Junior estate shoot-out

Part two of our estate special sees Renault’s new Clio Sport Tourer meet Skoda, Nissan and Peugeot rivals to see who makes the best small car for taking big loads.

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Supermini estates might sound like a contradiction in terms, but manufacturers claim these are small cars with big appeal – and genuine practicality. The idea is nothing new, but until now they have always been the underdogs of the family car world; not as trendy as off-roaders, lacking the versatility of compact MPVs and unable to carry the loads of conventional estates. However, the latest generation of superminis is bigger and more refined than ever, and estate versions make decent family cars. They also have the added advantage of being affordable, green and economical.

The latest model to join the fray is the Renault Clio Sport Tourer, and we’ve lined it up against three tough rivals. The Skoda Fabia Estate offers space, value and no-frills practicality at a similar price to the French contender. But arguably the key rival for the new Renault is its homegrown adversary, the Peugeot 207 SW. With three trims and four engines, it has a broad line-up.

But are any of these supermini estates as good as the MPV-inspired Nissan Note? The Japanese challenger’s sliding rear seats, split-level boot and functional cabin could give it the upper hand. Read on as we reveal which of this quartet is the best family choice.

Verdict

This test proves supermini-sized estates make just as much sense as larger load carriers. The latest small practical models are frugal, versatile and affordable family cars. But first to fall is the 207 SW. Despite its clever seat-folding mechanism and opening rear screen, the boot is smaller than the Clio’s and Fabia’s, and its cabin design and quality aren’t a match for its rivals’.

Next up is the Fabia; a superb, no-frills estate, it’s robustly built and excellent value. Crucially the huge boot is very practical, but the 1.9-litre TDI unit is beginning to show its age and falls short on refinement. The Skoda also lacks composure in corners.

Nissan’s Note isn’t a supermini estate, but thanks to its excellent split-level boot and sliding rear seats, it remains our favourite supermini-MPV. However, it can’t match the sheer volume of the little estates, so it finishes second behind the excellent Renault Clio Sport Tourer. With a practical boot, well appointed cabin and composed handling, it’s a great family car. Low emissions and excellent economy also make it the best financial choice.

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