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Thursday, April 25, 2024
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Wagons Ho!

8 min read
Estate wagons combine the driveability of a car and the hauling prowess of an SUV. Here are three value-for-money models to consider.


The Outback has been the wagon of choice for drivers who want the practicality of a vehicle that carries everything yet don’t want to forgo performance. With the latest model, Subaru has upped the luxury quotient, adding refinement to the mix.

The brand’s reputed Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (S-AWD) assures that the car provides the epitome of road holding in all conditions; the added X-Mode with Hill Descent Control pushes boundaries even further. With a push of a button, X-Mode integrates the engine, transmission, S-AWD, brakes and other components to help you navigate challenging road conditions and terrain safely. Hill Descent automatically kicks in to maintain a constant speed when you’re travelling downhill.Under the hood, the famed Boxer engine has been given a revamp, and now boasts an improved balance. With pistons moving in an opposing manner, they cancel out each other’s vibrations for a smoother ride compared to V-opposed or inline engines. The lower centre of gravity and flat design of the Boxer engine not only gives better side-to-side stability, but is also more self-balancing.

Few have ever questioned the torquey power of the Outback, but the latest model offers even more promise. The Lineartronic CVT’s contribution to smooth power transfer means that acceleration is immediate and effortless. Combined with Subaru’s SI-Drive, the Boxer engine provides great response while ensuring a fuel-efficient drive at the touch of a button.

The interiors have also been upgraded to provide conveniences for both driver and passengers. There is now an eight-inch, high-res entertainment screen, smartphone connectivity, and access to both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Rear passengers can also take advantage of the convenience of USB ports located in the back-centre console.

Subaru’s EyeSight is all seeing when it comes to addressing potential dangers on the road. It looks ahead and notifies you in the advent of danger. It will even apply the brakes to avoid a collision in certain conditions. Numbers don’t lie: vehicles equipped with EyeSight are reportedly involved in 61% fewer accidents. Steering Responsive Headlights further enhances visibility during low-light conditions.

Additional safety features in the Subaru Outback include Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Braking, Pre-Collision Throttle Management, Lane Departure and Lane Sway Warning, as well as Lead Vehicle Start Alert. All in all, the Outback is one of the safest cars you can drive today.

PRICE  $130,800 (WITH COE)
POWER  175PS @ 5,800RPM
TORQUE  235NM @ 4,000RPM
0–100KM/H  10.2 SECONDS


In August 2019, Volvo released its all-new Volvo V60 to great aplomb. Fast forward one year and a viral pandemic later, it is still one of the most viable, best-driving, luxury mid-size station wagons money can buy.

Built from Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform, this premium sport wagon continues the brand’s enviable history, with more than 60 years of award-winning estate car experience defined by Swedish craftsmanship.The V range is arguably Volvo’s best rendition of its overall design concept. The V60 hones this concept remarkably, combining well-integrated lines with everyday convenience. Strong visual statements are made through sharp lines and curves, the distinctive waterfall grille, the T-shaped “Thor’s Hammer” LED headlights, and sleek bumpers at the front and rear.

The elegance of the V60 is also found inside. The dashboard and front console offer an ergonomic wrap-around sensation. The ample legroom and class-leading load compartment chip in to make the car as practical as it is good looking. The hands-free powered tailgate lets you open the boot by just putting your foot under the rear bumper. We particularly like the bag folder that flips up out of the floor of the load compartment, which stops shopping bags from sliding around and separates your groceries; there is even a hidden compartment that allows you to keep valuables out of sight.

Volvo leaves little to be desired when it comes to driveability. The V60 T5 turbocharged engine delivers 250bhp and 350Nm of torque, which is more than you’ll ever need to zip around Singapore’s roads and highways. On top of that, the eight-speed automatic gearbox provides smooth transitions through the paces.

Recognising that drivers are different, the V60 has four different drive settings: ‘Comfort’ delivers all-round driveability; ‘Dynamic’ sharpens the car’s responses and the display changes to create a more dynamic experience; ‘Eco’ allows for more economical driving with minimal impact on the environment; and ‘Individual’ lets you adjust each element to suit your taste.

Safety features are aplenty in the V60. The car obtained a five-star NCAP rating in 2018, and incorporates Volvo’s IntelliSafe, which comprises intuitive, intelligent technologies that support driving, helping to prevent accidents and protect those in a collision. The City Safety with Autobrake technology uses automatic braking and detection systems to assist the driver in avoiding potential collisions, and is the only system on the market to recognise not only pedestrians and cyclists, but also large animals.

And in the T5 R-Design, you will find IntelliSafe Assist, which includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Distance Alert, and the advanced semi-autonomous drive feature. Pilot Assist, also part of this package, gives gentle steering input to keep the car properly aligned within lane markings up to speeds of 130km/h, and no longer needs to follow another car.

Inside, Volvo’s Sensus Connect infotainment system allows easy access to a wide selection of cloud-based applications. The system is controlled via an intuitive nine-inch tablet-style touch screen that combines car functions, navigation, in-car entertainment applications such as Internet radio and Spotify, and connected services such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.One unique feature is Volvo Cars’ CleanZone air purification system, which has been improved by adding a new carbon filter for more efficient capture of small, harmful particles and pollen in the incoming air. In these health-conscious times, this is an enhancement that cannot be overrated.

PRICE  $185,000 (WITH COE)
POWER  250BHP @ 5,500RPM
TORQUE  350NM @ 1,500–4,800RPM
0–100KM/H  6.5 SECONDS


One common criticism of Volkswagen cars is that they all look very similar, both inside and out — but this is not necessarily a bad thing. If you consider this a small price to pay for solid German engineering, then it’s something easily forgiven.

That said, the Passat Variant is as wide a departure as you can expect design-wise from VW. The wagon, having been upgraded over the years, comes from good stock: the 2015 version was Europe’s Car of the Year — and by a healthy margin!

The latest version is a handsome iteration that boasts all the modern technologies expected of a top European brand. At its heart, the 2.0 TSI engine provides 220PS of power and 350Nm of torque, more than ample to get you to where you want to go without any lag. Throw in class-leading fuel economy and you’ll save a few cents getting there as well.

Externally, perhaps the most obvious standout element is the LED headlamps. They’re not only more efficient, but generate illumination similar to daylight. LED daytime running lights also provide a distinctive feature in the new Passat Variant. LED tail lamps with ‘light scenes’ improve visibility. When the brakes are applied, the horizontal light signature of the rear lamps switches to a vertically oriented brake light signature. This makes the brake lights more perceptible and increases safety.

Driver comfort has always been VW’s forte, and the Passat Variant is no exception. In fact, driver comfort has been improved with the award-winning ergoComfort driver’s seat, which is electrically adjustable in 14 ways! Complementing this is the Dynamic Chassis control (DCC) system, with three suspension modes: Eco, Normal and Sport. With every millisecond, the car is computing and adaptively adjusting the optimal damping force for every situation.

Touchscreen driver interface allows for almost everything at your fingertips. The Passat Variant has the latest-generation Discover Pro system: its high-res eight-inch display features quick processing and user-friendly interface. And with the 12.3-inch Active Info Display available on the driver console, the right information — in a clearly laid-out format — is directly in the driver’s field of vision.

Among the car’s many safety elements, a few stand out. The Automatic Post-Collision Braking System automatically initiates braking after the car is involved in an accident. It minimises the severity of subsequent collisions, and allows the driver to steer the car to safety. More importantly, the availability of the Fatigue Detection System is in place to reduce the likelihood of you needing the former feature. The detection system constantly monitors and analyses driver behaviour and recommends taking a break when tiredness is detected.

At the end of the day, the VW Passat Variant gives you an excellent suite of technologies teamed with solid automotive engineering and a value proposition that cannot be ignored. Thirty million buyers of the car since its inception cannot be wrong.

PRICE  $169,900 (WITH COE)
POWER  220PS @ 4,500–6,200RPM
TORQUE  350NM @ 1,500–4,400RPM
0–100KM/H  6.9 SECONDS