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Which estate car?

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Which estate car?

Postby Scramble » Sun Jul 24, 2011 11:09 am

I'm looking for a new estate car for carrying gear to gigs (and sometimes towing a box trailer). I currently have a Ford Scorpio which was a great second-hand buy a few years back, in that it only cost 3k and it has a long rear area and a powerful engine, but it's starting to fall apart.

Any advice on a good second-hand estate to buy that costs around 3-5k for a mid-2000's model, has a lot of room in the back, fold-down seats, is reliable (so no French cars), can handle heavy loads and towing, and has a decent engine?

My local mechanic recommended the Audi A6, but they're a bit too expensive. I thought about a Focus, which ticks a lot of these boxes, but the estates look a bit on the small side.

(I could maybe get a van, but I'd rather not).
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Re: Which estate car?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sun Jul 24, 2011 11:16 am

A grand more or less on the initial price can easily be balanced by the first big repair bill. Your mechanic's advice may be valuable.
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Re: Which estate car?

Postby smash4686 » Sun Jul 24, 2011 11:18 am

Our drummer drives a Focus estate. Fits his whole kit in there, has a pretty good engine, though is starting to fail a bit and sits two people when all the seats are folded down. Could fit the guitars and keyboard in there if needed. I doubt it could fit a PA along with all of that though.
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Re: Which estate car?

Postby Dave71 » Sun Jul 24, 2011 12:02 pm

vauxhall meriva/zafira or if you are not bothered about ugly, a citroen berlingo - loads of room in all of them.

my mrs has a new kia ceed and thats fairly spacious but probbly a bit too small

Audi's are no more reliable than anything else these days considering the cost and the service/repair bills can be a bit steep
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Re: Which estate car?

Postby . . . Delete This User . . . » Sun Jul 24, 2011 1:11 pm

find one of the late model (upto about 03) VauxhaLL Omega estates, preferably the Elite... although the MV6 can be a viable alternative,

the Elite has self leveling suspension, ALL creature comforts, Sat Nav, decent stereo, huge load space, fast, and relatively reliable all things being equal...

all for under £3K usually... occasionally low mileage clean examples go up as far as about £5K but they're increasingly rare..


oh, and they're deceptively QUICK.... and rather nice to "drive" so watch your license,....




as an alternative, the BMW 5 series touring can be worth a look....
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Re: Which estate car?

Postby sthum » Sun Jul 24, 2011 2:38 pm

.



Another great question!


Though I'm not happy about your 'No French Cars' remark?
Have you ever owned one?

Without doubt if you can get your hands on any of the Citreon Estate models then your going to be a very happy guy!

They are like hens teeth, such is their popularity here in Northern Ireland!

They are especially popular with Touring Caravan owners because of their immense pulling power and all round rugged design! I have put mine to the test many times with accessive weights including many visits to ikea in Scotland & England (iKea has only arrived in N.Ireland & Ireland recently). And towing my 30' caravan all over the UK Ireland and France!

Put the back seats down and you have a ton of room!

I've had mine for over 10 years now and it never fails to start! Its a 1996 model, with over 200.000 miles on the clock!

Its a Turbo Diesel model too so I can only recommend that type of engine!
Though I've heard that the recent petrol models are on a power with their Diesel counterparts.


Sthum.......




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Re: Which estate car?

Postby humandrums » Sun Jul 24, 2011 5:55 pm

find one of the late model (upto about 03) VauxhaLL Omega estates, preferably the Elite... although the MV6 can be a viable alternative,

the Elite has self leveling suspension, ALL creature comforts, Sat Nav, decent stereo, huge load space, fast, and relatively reliable all things being equal...

all for under £3K usually... occasionally low mileage clean examples go up as far as about £5K but they're increasingly rare..


oh, and they're deceptively QUICK.... and rather nice to "drive" so watch your license,....

+1 for this, ive had a couple of omegas brilliant cars really gutted i didnt get one last time i came to get a new motor, also got stung with a vauxhall monterey (isuzu trooper with vauxhall badges)
all id say about the big omegas is they are thirsty
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Re: Which estate car?

Postby mrtcat » Sun Jul 24, 2011 7:37 pm

I've got a Volvo V70 and it gets a lot of gear in. A mid noughties one with average mileage would work for you. I'd recommend the D5 diesel which could pull a train up a mountain. They're not as expensive as you may think but don't get it serviced at Volvo as they'll charge the earth. I get mine serviced locally for £120 a time.

Also good are Ford Mondeo estates, Vauxhall Vectra estate and +1 for the Citroens.
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Re: Which estate car?

Postby Ant Gamble » Sun Jul 24, 2011 7:40 pm

I've had all sorts. I've got a 1.9 Zafira Diesel - I put a lot of research into as I do stacks of mileage with work.

I'm getting about 14p mile (£62 full tank, 450-480 miles). It has 7 seats - the very back 2 fold flat. Compared to other similar prices/sized cars, the boot is wider and it's flat loading - some cars have a 'lip' you have to lift your gear over. The Zafira enables you to slide gear in - very good for the back!

I got the '110' model because it's cheaper to run than the '120' - lower power engine (same size - 1.9) but It handles very well round corners when full (the body soaks up the road) and still packs a punch when you put your foot down.

I get the following inside:

Ashdown 4x10 ABM bass cab
Ashdowb 1x15 |ABM bass cab
Line 6 Spider 150
Line6 750HD head (in a rack unit)
2 x bags of leads/pedals
And there's about 1 & 1/2 foot of space on top, where I rest guitars.

That's without packing into the front passenger/rear seats (so add 4 passengers to the list - handy for dropping off drunk mates that have made the effort to support you!).

It's huge, quite efficient, reliable AND no special parts that need special tools (unlike french cars!)
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Re: Which estate car?

Postby narcoman » Sun Jul 24, 2011 9:31 pm

Get a 1.8 diesel Audi A4 estate 4WD (if you can find one!!).


Economic, engines that go on forever, 4WD (rare as golden balls in the older ones) for the crappy occasional snowy whether, big in the back and low tax and they cruise on the motorway at low revs well up to 90. You can find an older one for about £5k

Every other estate car always has a "minus" next to these sturdy beggars.... Take this advice from a chap who's had more cars in pieces than guitars!!
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Re: Which estate car?

Postby vinyl_junkie » Sun Jul 24, 2011 10:07 pm

Subaru Legacy and she's 4WD, mate has one and it's great. Also last year in the snow it was wicked and we went out in the worst of it without any issues.
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Re: Which estate car?

Postby Steve Hill » Mon Jul 25, 2011 7:11 am

Happy enough Zafira owner here: it does most of my lugging, and doubles as a 7-seat people-carrier.

Though I do miss my old Honda CRV (which has 4WD which kicks in automatically if conditions get slick).
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Re: Which estate car?

Postby grab » Mon Jul 25, 2011 8:21 am

Berlingo for me. Never going to win prizes for handling and performance, but it's very comfy to drive, and by god you can get a lot of stuff in there! 5 years back, mine cost £4k for a 3-year-old one with 33k on the clock. No serious problems with it - nothing that you wouldn't expect occasionally from any car.
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Re: Which estate car?

Postby John Willett » Mon Jul 25, 2011 12:02 pm

Scramble wrote:I'm looking for a new estate car for carrying gear to gigs (and sometimes towing a box trailer). I currently have a Ford Scorpio which was a great second-hand buy a few years back, in that it only cost 3k and it has a long rear area and a powerful engine, but it's starting to fall apart.

Any advice on a good second-hand estate to buy that costs around 3-5k for a mid-2000's model, has a lot of room in the back, fold-down seats, is reliable (so no French cars), can handle heavy loads and towing, and has a decent engine?

My local mechanic recommended the Audi A6, but they're a bit too expensive. I thought about a Focus, which ticks a lot of these boxes, but the estates look a bit on the small side.

(I could maybe get a van, but I'd rather not).


Best for this is the Nissan X-Trail.

Auto 4WD with excellent traction control. In Auto 4WD it is basically 2WD and goes into 4WD mode automatically if it senses it's needed.

Full electronic control means that it does not wait for wheels to start spinning before it goes 4WD. Beats the Honda CR-V into a cocked hat here (I looked at the CR-V before buying the Nissan), the CR-V is 2WD that waits for wheel-spin before going 4WD, has a smaller boot, is less powerful (150BHP as opposed to 173BHP) and is more expensive.

The X-Trail is reckoned to be one of the best towing vehicles around.

This is what I use for transporting all my gear to location.

Never let me down, even in the last two severe winters, coped with all the snow easily and left other vehicles slithering and standing.

If you want a good sized rear and towing capability this is the No.1 choice at an affordable price.

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Re: Which estate car?

Postby Scramble » Mon Jul 25, 2011 2:31 pm

Wow, a lot of useful replies here! Thanks very much. This topic might have made a nice article for Performing Musician were it still going.

Fuel economy is another thing I should have mentioned -- my Scorpio has a 2.9-litre 24-valve V6 Cosworth engine, which is wonderful and I hate to part with it, but it drinks petrol like a Russian oligarch knocking back expensive vodka, and with the price of petrol these days seemingly reaching vodka-like heights he's too expensive a fellow to hang out with any more.
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Re: Which estate car?

Postby Findo » Mon Jul 25, 2011 4:14 pm

mondeo estate. diesel if possible. huge boot space - i used to be able to fit a sheet of 8' x 4' flat in the back. can't do that with the A4! reliable and cheap to fix too.
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Re: Which estate car?

Postby John Willett » Mon Jul 25, 2011 5:26 pm

Scramble wrote:Wow, a lot of useful replies here! Thanks very much. This topic might have made a nice article for Performing Musician were it still going.

Fuel economy is another thing I should have mentioned -- my Scorpio has a 2.9-litre 24-valve V6 Cosworth engine, which is wonderful and I hate to part with it, but it drinks petrol like a Russian oligarch knocking back expensive vodka, and with the price of petrol these days seemingly reaching vodka-like heights he's too expensive a fellow to hang out with any more.

The X-Tral diesel can vary between early 30's to early 40's MPG depending on how you drive.

I am getting 36-37MPG from my 173BHP 2009 model - left in Auto 4WD all the time.

You may get a little more if you set it to 2WD and only go to Auto 4WD when you need the extra traction.
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Re: Which estate car?

Postby Spangler » Mon Jul 25, 2011 6:49 pm

+1 for Mondeo. Huge, reliable and cheap parts.
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Re: Which estate car?

Postby basilfawlty » Mon Jul 25, 2011 8:03 pm

VW Passat is a good bet, pref the 1.9 TDi - loads of grunt, but will average 40mpg, and return 50 on a run. Not quite as big as an A6 in the back, but way bigger than an A4. Utterly reliable, but get the facelift model around 2002; they're better. If you get the SE model, you get Air, alloys, tints, and a pretty good sound system (6 cd changer, + cassette for the ipod adapter). Mine had 150k on the clock when I sold it, but was like a new car. They'll do 300k without issue, as long as you service correctly (timing belts, CV boots, etc.). Also get a VW specialist, not main dealer VW - you'll save at least 25%. We traded ours for a Sharan (firm VW converts since the Passat) and, again, are utterly delighted with it in terms of comfort and reliability. Same engine, too. Slightly less mpg (37 / 47) but huge load bay with all 5 rears removed. Could also therefore go for the Seat Alamhra, or Ford Galaxy - all built in the same factory in Portugal by VW, but finished in different levels of trim, of which the Ford is the highest spec, but also shoddy. Seat and VW very similar, and all can have the same 1.9TDI VW powerplant.

Lot of horror stories about Vauxhall, though all good about the omega/elite funnily enough. Wasn;t there some BMW involvement on that particular car? Juicy though, or gutless depending on whether you go V6 or Diesel - the Vauxhall diesels are not as good as the VWs.

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Re: Which estate car?

Postby narcoman » Mon Jul 25, 2011 9:17 pm

Spangler wrote:+1 for Mondeo. Huge, reliable and cheap parts.


Totally - and it would be my main choice apart from two things - cam belts and rear main oil seals.

The cam belt will need doing on a mondeo at 80,000 miles.Most larger VAG group car will be at 120,000 AND it's cheaper than a Ford. Second - rear main oil seal... bitch to do on a Ford, easy on (most) VAG engines (the gear housing is slightly tilted which means you can just move the gear mount backwards - you'll have to remove the engine on a Ford).

Other than those two (pricey) things - then a Mondeo (the older ones) would win.

Vauxhall Omega's have great engines - but the good ones are all over 3 litre!!! ouch!
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Re: Which estate car?

Postby turbodave » Mon Jul 25, 2011 10:24 pm

TeeHee! he said VAG engines
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Re: Which estate car?

Postby narcoman » Mon Jul 25, 2011 10:37 pm

It's true.

I've had my oily hands on a few greasy VAG parts.


... hmmm.... now i feel filthy....
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Re: Which estate car?

Postby Dynamic Mike » Mon Jul 25, 2011 11:17 pm

Jaguar X-Type estate. Seriously under-rated load carrier, a 2.0D on a 54 plate will set you back less than £4K. The 3.0L V6 goes for not a lot more, 4WD, eats Audi's & is immense fun to drive. It's fully loaded and drinks like a fish...(oops, wrong thread)
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Re: Which estate car?

Postby narcoman » Tue Jul 26, 2011 12:36 am

Great car - but let's bring up cam belts again shall we
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Re: Which estate car?

Postby StevesSOS » Tue Jul 26, 2011 6:34 am

Volvo 850 or V70 ( up to 1998) diesel.
I have been carrying gear for 10 years , the cars are 100% reliable which is a good start.
Big square rear tailgate opening
Very long totally flat load space unlike lots of so called estate cars cars which are just good for going down to the golf club (Jag, A4, 3 Series,Focus)
Interior trim bullet proof so it won't get damaged
Low load height for that heavy power amp ( forget 4x4's)
Very comfortable driving position for 2 in the morning 200 mile journeys
Good ICE on the CD or GLT models
When you finished with it stick it for sale on ebay and you will get all your money back
Simple!
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Re: Which estate car?

Postby kongen » Tue Jul 26, 2011 9:26 am

Toyota Previa Diesel
VW Sharan (theres a 1.8 turbo around with something like 150HP that can easily be tuned to around 200HP) or Touran
Fiat Doblo
Mazda 5 or the smaller 6

I don't know much about prices in the UK but these are models that have existed for some time so i'm guessing you should be able to find one used and cheap
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Re: Which estate car?

Postby Stephen Parker » Tue Jul 26, 2011 9:41 am

You should think about cars that are traditionally run by reps - we (at Arbiter) used to run Mondeo diesels and although they're not especially inspiring, they were reliable, economical and had a good amount of space - oh and the advantage they have over a lot of other stuff is that they depreciate heavily early on so you should be able to pick up something decent for your budget.

Ensure you get full service history and check the number of owners - ex company cars are usually OK as they are serviced regularly and properly (the driver doesn't pay).

Forget Audi's - I never had a bill less than £300 for an A3, and although BMW's are decent, the space is less than in comparable cars and their run flat tyres are very expensive - servicing is very reasonable though.

One other person mentioned the KIA Cee'd - silly name but a very good car and you'd be surprised what you can fit inside the SW version.

Lastly - we also ran Vauxhall Vectra's for a while and they were poor in comparison to the Mondeo - engine was poor and the dealers left a lot to be desired.

Hope that helps

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Re: Which estate car?

Postby Scramble » Tue Jul 26, 2011 11:01 am

Hmm, the list is not exactly getting whittled down!

John's X-Trail recommendation has got me thinking that a 7-seater SUV/4x4 would have the advantage that the wife would be happy with it as a people carrier for the kids, plus if you get a longish one you can maybe fit more in than with an estate, due to the higher roof.

(I'm talking about SUVs where seats 6 and 7 disappear completely into the floor -- I saw a Land Rover Discovery today like that, although the Discovery itself is too small for my purposes).

But there is one worry I've always had about getting a 7-seater, and that is that you'll end up being a taxi service for your kids and their friends. So maybe I'll just get another estate.
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Re: Which estate car?

Postby mpostor » Tue Jul 26, 2011 11:16 am

There are pros and cons to any car.

If you are towing, I'd recommend a 4x4. You never know when your band will have to play in a marquee in a muddy field.
A while back I had a Land Rover Discovery (1994) 2.5 TDi. Lovely car when it worked. Very frugal on fuel. Could easily get 800 miles out of a single tank (keep it at 70mph or less on the motorway; hit 80mph and the turbo kicks in and fuel economy nosedives).
Inside, it's massive. 3 seats in the back and two more in the boot (they folded away when not in use). Yes, it was a 7 seater (although as with all 7 seaters, if you use all 7 seats you have no room for luggage).
Put the back seats down and there's a tall, wide empty space for stuff. When I was gigging, I could easily get two keyboards in cases, in the boot, along with an amp, stands and cable case, and still have room for 4 adult passengers.
The driving position was very comfortable. Like sitting in an armchair.
The only real downside was the cost of repairs. It was OK for reliability, but every time something went wrong, it was a minimum of £800 to fix.

I've also owned a 4 year old Audi A3 hatchback (OK, not an estate). I had it a couple of years and nothing major went wrong with it. Lovely car. I was sorry to let it go. It held it's value as well.

My current transport of choice is a Ford Galaxy. It's been said above that this was a joint venture with SEAT and VW. The only Galaxy with a Ford engine is the 2.3. All the others have VW plants. I went for the 2.8 V6 mainly because I wanted something large with a bit of grunt. It has that in spades. The engine is the same VW unit as used in the Golf VR6; 204bhp. It really does shift. And being a MK2, it still has removable rear seats. Take them all out and you have a van. It'll happily take a 2 and 3 seat sofa in at the same time. As for it turning into a taxi, I've found it handy when taking the whole family out (5 of us). There's enough room to bring a couple of extra people (grandparents, etc). It's not used like that very often.

I've had it long enough for most things to have gone wrong. Watch out for drive shaft wobble at around 70k miles. It still had its original clutch at 90k. The air con system needed replacing at 95k. These things have been a bit pricy, but not as much as the Land Rover.
The only real downside I see is at the petrol pump. It gets 15-20mpg around town and 30mpg on the motorway. Ouch maybe, but most of the gigs I do pay my petrol costs as an expense on top of wages.
Despite being a gas guzzler, every time I put my foot down, it puts a smile on my face. There's no point in having a car and not enjoying driving it. Having said that, if I had to buy a Galaxy again, I'd get a diesel one. If getting one now, look for the Ghia spec, as it comes with parking sensors and cruise control, which I find very handy.

Finally, probably the most reliable/cost effective to run car I've had has been a Peugeot 306 1.8 Diesel hatchback. Comfortable, economical and cheap to repair (on the few occasions it needed it), it just ran and ran. Not the most interesting car though.
There is an estate version, but it's not all that large. Peugeots diesel engines are among the best made. Ask any mechanic and they'll wax lyrical about them!

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Re: Which estate car?

Postby The Red Bladder » Tue Jul 26, 2011 12:20 pm

Asking which car is a bit like asking which microphone! Which car for what?

If you are just talking about moving stuff about and it does not have to be the family car, a Ford Transit takes a great deal of beating. Parts and repairs are cheap and every corner repair guy knows them inside out.

If you are towing a fair old weight (1.5 tons or more) fairly often. then a front wheel drive is out of the question, as the universal joints and/or gearbox will not take the strain, unless it is one of the larger and more robust models.

Ford Focus is a daft idea.

If it were me, I'd get an old Mercedes Diesel E-Series 124 model (squarish lights, built until about 95) with stick shift, if you can find one. Something like this - EBAY LISTING LINK

Old Mercs are cheap and easy to fix if you stay as far away as possible from their dealerships, who have to be simply the worst dealership chain in the UK. The model that followed the 124 series with the round lights, looks good, but was a pile of rubbish.
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