Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon
This segment isn't all about Germanic efficiency; a generous helping of Italian flair is always welcome. In fairness, one of the sportiest things about this wagon is its name, just because no car maker likes to use the term "estate" or the W word without some extra juice. Nevertheless, this 159 makes any autostrada seem a little more graceful, and when it deploys one of Alfa's exceptionally good JTD turbodiesels, it offers a mix of style, sense, and desirability rarely found elsewhere. The 2.4-liter JTDM five-cylinder example makes 210 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque, probably enough to topple the Leaning Tower of Pisa once and for all. But that would be a bad thing.
VW Jetta SportWagen TDI
Taking the sport wagon concept literally is fine when the result comes out like this. Similar to the Alfa in some respects, this Jetta is not overly sporty, but with the TDI engine under its hood, there's a satisfying thrust and a satisfactory thirst. We've enjoyed this car so much; when there's a slick-shifting DSG transmission, 236 lb-ft of torque, and 41 mpg coexisting in the same machine, it's easy to see why. This car is one reason why European machines are seducing American buyers these days: It's affordable to buy and run, offers decent equipment levels and space, and has just a little bit of chic thrown in. For added eco-friendliness (unusual in something even vaguely sporty), the TDI engine has won two Green Car of the Year awards.
Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Wagon
As amazing as the RS 6 Avant and M5 Touring are, this is the ultimate sport wagon. At least until the next ultimate sport wagon comes along. Even then, it would be hard to argue with 525 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque coming from a 6.3-liter V8, a seven-speed gearbox, optional ceramic composite brakes that can almost stop time, 200 mph with the limiter disabled, and a generous 68.9 cubic feet of cargo space. By reaching 60 mph from standstill in just 4.4 seconds (extrapolating that figure from hitting 62 mph, or 100 km/h, in 4.6 seconds), this thing is fast-arguably the fastest sport wagon in the world by this metric. Note that the claimed time for the two-seater SL 63 AMG is 4.5 seconds. The automatic transmission has one mode called "Controlled Efficiency" and also a launch control, which is just plain adorable. And because this is a wagon, there's an air suspension at the rear that ensures a constant and consistent ride height regardless of load. Available in the USA? Please sign our petition.
Reliant Scimitar GTE
This strange British car (from a company more known for making dodgy three-wheelers) might better be described as a shooting brake, but it did share two primary attributes with sport wagons: a tailgate and a reputation for speed. So semantics be damned. Anyway, the E stood for estate (English for wagon) and there was a low-volume GTC convertible. The design came from an estate car the company made for the Turkish market. The GTE lived from 1968 to 1986, with not many changes. The front suspension came from a Triumph TR6. Despite a lightweight fiberglass body, its Ford-sourced 2.5-liter or 3.0-liter (depending on the year) V6 still chugged petrol like the cast of Mad Men down Scotch. Not that such a predilection bothered British royalty-Princess Anne received her first GTE as a 20th birthday present and she went on to own eight more. The police caught her speeding in one, not a rare transgression for her.
BMW M5 Touring
With the 5 Series now in its F10 generation, there should be an M sedan coming in 2011 (excitingly, BMW is said to be working on extensive weight-saving measures). Whether a Touring variation of that ever sees the light of day is still firmly in the realm of conjecture. Chances of an M GT might be better. So the previous E61 M5 Touring (not available in North America, naturally) joins the E34 version as another under-appreciated rare bird and the only M-fettled 5 wagons to date. Ten cylinders making 500 hp and 384 lb-ft make a superb asset to an already fine and functional car. Which leads one to assume that the pose value of a sport sedan far outweighs the convenience value of a sport wagon, while an X6 M (admittedly, an absolute hoot) is flavor of the month. Shouldn't we be over all that nonsense by now?