All you need is a few minutes to scout the latest novelties from automakers around the world to see that we live in a world of crossovers, SUVs, and trucks. But that doesn’t mean these ailing segments are going down without a fight. Cue to the efforts made by the South Korean automakers Kia and Hyundai to rekindle our love for the practical minivan.
Alternatively, let’s have a look at what carmakers are doing with station wagons of the high-performance variety. I’m a family man and proud owner of a run-of-the-mill compact wagon and dare I say that if money was no object one of these models would adorn my garage parking space in a heartbeat. After all, these are practical-yet-quick family movers.
Just like with hot hatch or pocket rocket aficionados, these types of station wagons also have an underground moniker. They are called “rocket wagons” because they usually come fitted with a hilariously large engine. Of course, that’s just part of the package, which traditionally includes beefier suspensions and stopping power, sexy exhaust notes, as well as additional aero goodies to make sure you get safely and in time to your kids’ practice (swimming, not soccer in this case).
These rocket wagons are naturally a rare occurrence. Remember how we established these days almost nobody buys station wagons anymore? Now shrink the customer base to anyone willing to pay lofty prices for the added performance. And this is how we get to a very short Top 3 list. No worries, all of them have generous cargo space, folding seats for the additional rooms (all kinds of sports equipment and bikes in my family), as well as a roof rack that’s infinitely easier to reach than a crossover’s.
One last note before we proceed with the heroes. These things are stunningly fast… at least by station wagon standards, which are usually very low. So, without further ado, here’s the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S Wagon sitting comfortably in the third position. It retails in the U.S. of A. for exactly $113,500 and comes with the bulky 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine made by hand in Affalterbach.
You can easily scare both the missus and the kids when gunning for the first school class with the power provided by 603 ponies. Which is enough to sprint to 62 mph (100 kph) in just 3.5 seconds. The maximum speed, not that you’ll ever be allowed by the lady of the household to experience it, comes at exactly 180 mph/290 kph. Sitting right above it and taking the virtual silver medal is the Audi RS 6 Avant.
One can have it for even less money, not that $109k isn’t a chunk load of it as well. But it does come with the “affordability” bragging rights compared to the Mercedes rival. The TFSI- and quattro-equipped five-door bomb is also slightly less powerful, as the turbo 4.0-liter V8 comes with “just” 592 horsepower. Although it doesn’t mean that you’ll get any slower to the PTA: zero to 62 mph (100 kph) happens in a blistering fast 3.6 seconds.
Now, on the other hand, if you want the absolute best in terms of station wagons you really need to shell out no less than $195,150 and get yourself the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo. It comes with sustainable PHEV credentials, so the electrically-assisted 677 ponies can brag about being (partially) green. Just don’t call it a station wagon in front of the Porsche representatives when you buy it, because we heard the automaker doesn’t consider it as such.
No matter the segment they want it to be fitted in, the reality is that you can have an eerie experience when traveling at 193 mph (311 kph) after previously snapping the neck of everyone inside with the 62 mph sprint in 3.4 seconds…