/ Motoring

Let’s call an estate car an estate car

A blue estate car

I’ve diagnosed myself with a new car-based clinical condition and I fear there is no cure. I’ve termed it ‘estateism’, and it sends me into a rage every time I hear about another terribly named estate car.

Let me explain the origins of the problem. We can all remember a simpler time when the addition of the word ‘estate’ to a car model name implied it was an elongated version of the original, offering more luggage space and potentially more rear legroom.

Up until recently, we’ve only had to deal with this term and a handful of others when it comes to estate cars. For instance, we’ve heard the words Clubman, Avant, Touring and Station Wagon (if you’re from the US) used to describe them.

An estate by any other name…

But it appears the word ‘estate’ has lost some of its appeal to carmakers, as many of them are opting to use any alternative they can conjure up instead. For those of you who aren’t aware of the differing variations, here’s a quick list I’ve pulled together: Tourer, Sport Tourer, Touring Sports, Shooting Brake, Sportbrake, Sport Turismo and Sportswagon.

And now there’s a new addition to the list, as Skoda has recently announced the new Rapid Spaceback. While it’s not a conventional estate car, it’s yet another example of irrelevant naming. I think it’s a ploy to suggest the model offers something different to its rivals, when in reality it does nothing of the sort.

I’m fully aware that the car market is competitive, but surely some of these names are causing a bit of confusion? For instance, the new Toyota Auris Touring Sports suggests it has some degree of performance edge. A top power output of 136bhp (from the Hybrid version no less) is proof alone that this isn’t the case.

And Mercedes’ use of the name ‘Shooting Brake’ for the CLS is actually the incorrect use of the term itself, which refers to a two-door coupe with an estate back – not a normal five-door estate car.

Help car buyers find what they want

What’s wrong with the word ‘estate’ anyway? Most buyers are actively looking for a car of this type for the practical benefits they offer, so I can’t see many being swayed by a flashy yet irrelevant name.

Until carmakers revert back to using the traditional term, I don’t think I’m going to find a remedy for my estateism. Have you been equally annoyed or confused by these car names?


Marketting is about creating expectations – many of which are illusory, but might satisfy the fashion-conscious. Sports cars are rarely for sport, many of us are not “Gran Turismos” so GT might just mean leather upholstery. Shooting Brake was originally a horse-drawn vehicle with lengthwise seats for a number of people and accommodation for guns, ammunition and game and evolved into a motor car of a similar type; this became degraded over the years. All companies use emotive names to attract your attention – your job is to see through the glitz and buy what you need. Careful with a Dacia Duster – not what it seems.


I think BMW were the first to do this. They’ve been using “Touring” for estates for decades in English, German and many other languages.

Radio Wales says:
1 August 2013

BMW don’t stoop to making Estate cars. It’s as simple as that.


I think a shooting brake or station wagon are forms of estate car and should have vertical rear doors. Only genuine if driven by a servant.


I believe that the appropriate term for an estate car is a ‘repmobile’.

Who cares what silly names manufacturers use? They should focus on important practical issues like providing full-size spare wheels and making it easy to change a bulb at the roadside.


wavechange – this would be better called a traveller (as in travelling salesman – rep is such a derogatory term). Morris addressed this market a long time ago with the Morris Minor Traveller – a very sought-after vehicle with ash construction.


Absolutely. Sometimes I make provocative comments to encourage others to join in. 🙂


Cunning 😉


I would never have guessed! Quite a few do this – it is a good way to liven up the debate. You have to see through some comments to determine whether they are mischievously provocative or deadly serious before you frame a response (if so minded). Hatch Back and People Carrier seem more sensible descriptions than Saloon (where’s that from?) and Touring.