With the pressure growing on bigger-engined 4x4s and any models with high CO2 emissions, the humble estate, long written off by many, is enjoying a renaissance in the new car market.
The estate car has never been as popular in the UK as it has in some continental markets with their heritage of Grand Tourers and Shooting Brakes.
And there is a lingering perception of the estate as just a working tool rather than a flexible and useful family car.
In many cases it has been replaced by the mini-MPV, which has given motorists another set of choices if they want a car that can carry big loads or lots of children.
As a demographic, estate car drivers are a fairly restricted target market – accounting for around 7% of cars on UK roads, according to BCA’s Used Car Market Report. However, premium models are always much sought after if they have the right combination of colour and specification.
Estate buyers and owners are often older motorists and they expect a good degree of comfort and specification.
Diesel estates are popular with caravan owners, who need the torque and pulling power as well as the extra space.
The Kennel Club crowd is another big fan – walk around the NEC car parks during Crufts for proof of that.
However, high-spec premium models could be an alternative for well-heeled family buyers as they make a statement as well as being eminently practical and could make a real resurgence with the pressure being experienced in the large 4x4 market.
The higher-spec volume models are also very desirable and represent excellent value for money in the current climate.
Buyers do not like obvious corporate or utilitarian colours so silvers, greens, blues and greys are OK if metallic but not if in flat colours.
Base-specification models are hard to place whatever the body shape and on premium models, buyers really go for the bells and whistles – full leather interior, heated seats with memory, sat-nav, climate control and, increasingly, MP3 connectivity.
From the graph, it is noticeable the premium estate values held up relatively well for significantly longer in 2008 despite the market pressures being experienced.