It's into this category that the Volkswagen Passat estate 1.8T Sport fits, a car that successfully mixes business with pleasure while substantially undercutting rivals such as the identically-engined Audi A4 1.8T Sport Avant (£24,638) or BMW 323i Sport Touring (£24,720).
Volkswagen as a brand may fall a little short of Audi and BMW in Britain, but the Passat is still one of the most aspirational cars in upper medium, even if it's gained some of that standing through poor availability. The estate, however, has always been easier to get hold of, being built in a separate factory from the saloon and inherently in less demand owing to its body style: Volkswagen is quoting a minimum of eight weeks on delivery, compared with 12 weeks for the saloon, depending on exact specification.
Prices for the estate start at £16,270 on the road for the 100bhp 1.6 S, making the entry-level Passat almost £800 more expensive than a Vectra 1.8 Envoy (£15,475), but only £275 more than the £15,995 Mondeo Aspen. As tested, the 1.8T Sport costs £20,735 on the road, more expensive than all our chosen rivals.