The 'affordable' wagon is something of a dying breed – which only makes us want it more.
- shares

The cliche goes that motoring journalists are only really satisfied behind the wheel of a station wagon with a manual transmission – and it’s not incorrect.

At CarAdvice, our wagon-loving ways take many forms, but we can all agree on one thing: it is the superior body type.

While we can bemoan the rise of the SUV until we (and you, dear readers) are blue in the face, it does mean the scarcity of the wagon on our roads just ups its cool factor even further.

Thus, actually finding a new wagon for a reasonable entry-level price is becoming more and more challenging.

With even the most compact of hatchbacks rising in price this year (ahem, Toyota Yaris, we’re looking at you), the spacious wagon now comes at even more of a price premium.

Still, it’s possible to get a new model for under $40,000 – even for under $20,000 if you know where to look! Here are five wagons that won't break the bank (particularly if you can snag a tempting drive-away deal).


1. Skoda Fabia wagon

Australia's most affordable wagon might be small, but it still offers more cargo space than your average hatchback. Available in front-wheel-drive only, Fabia shoppers have the choice of two powertrain set-ups: a 70kW/160Nm, 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine paired to the five-speed manual transmission, or a 81kW/200Nm, 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine coupled to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The Fabia wagon is roughly 4.26m long and 1.7m wide, so consider it like a stretched Volkswagen Polo or Toyota Yaris.

Price range: From $18,890 for the 70TSI manual, up to $25,490 for the Monte Carlo automatic (before on-road costs)
Current drive-away offers: From $18,990 drive-away for the 70TSI manual, or from $21,990 for the 81TSI automatic
Boot size: 530 litres (1395 litres with the rear seats folded)
ANCAP safety rating: Five stars, tested in 2015
Warranty: Five-year/unlimited kilometre


2. Volkswagen Golf wagon

It may not be as well-known as its hatchback stablemate, but the estate version of the popular Volkswagen Golf makes for an elegant – and surprisingly affordable – wagon alternative. Fans of the punchy Golf powertrain will be satisfied with the 1.4-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine and seven-speed automatic making 110kW and 250Nm, but can up the ante with the R variant, which boasts a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine pumping out 213kW of power and 380Nm of torque. If you're willing to wait and see, there's also a chance the recently-unveiled 2021 Golf Estate R-Line and Golf Alltrack wagons will soon be available too – although both are yet to be confirmed for a local launch.

Price range: From $29,290 for the 110TSI Trendline automatic, up to $57,990 for the R AWD automatic (before on-road costs)
Current drive-away offers: N/A
Boot size: 605 litres (1620 litres with the rear seats folded)
ANCAP safety rating: Five stars, tested in 2013 (excludes all-wheel drive variants which are untested)
Warranty: Five-year/unlimited kilometre


3. Skoda Octavia wagon

If you need a bit more room than the Fabia offers and have a bit more cash to splurge, the Octavia wagon is a medium-sized passenger car with added practicality. Power is courtesy of a 1.4-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine producing 110kW of power and 250Nm of torque, paired to either a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmission (all variants are front-wheel drive). Better yet, the wagon is set to get another cargo boost when the slightly larger 2021 Octavia lands in local showrooms in early 2021. We're also crossing our fingers that the high-riding Octavia Scout wagon (revealed in 2020) makes its way to Australia.

Price range: From $29,490 for the 110TSI automatic, up to $49,090 for the RS245 automatic (before on-road costs)
Current drive-away offers: From $28,990 drive-away for the 110TSI manual or from $31,490 drive-away for the 110TSI DSG automatic
Boot size: 588 litres (1718 litres with rear seats folded)
ANCAP safety rating: Five stars, tested in 2016 (applies to all front-wheel drive variants)
Warranty: Five-year/unlimited kilometre


4. Peugeot 308 wagon

The sole wagon offering in the Peugeot 308 line-up, the Touring variant boasts a cavernous cargo area and a single powertrain choice – a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder turbo petrol engine producing 96kW and 230Nm and sending power to the front wheels. The design offers a premium feel but at a mid-range price point, while its cargo space is the pick of this bunch, with a whopping 625 litres on hand for when you need to fit everything but the kitchen sink.

Price range: From $32,499 for the Allure Touring automatic (before on-road costs)
Current drive-away offers: N/A
Boot size: 625 litres (1740 with the rear seats folded)
ANCAP safety rating: Five stars, tested in 2014
Warranty: Five-year/unlimited kilometre


5. Mazda 6 wagon

The priciest offering on this list, the Mazda 6 wagon is an intriguing alternative to the Japanese brand's popular SUV offerings, with its elegant, understated lines and boot space to beat its CX-5 sibling. Priced at just over $1000 more than the sedan variants, it's available across four specification grades. In the higher GT and Atenza grades, there's plenty of torque on tap from the 2.5-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, which boasts a maximum 170kW and 420Nm from 2000rpm. Meanwhile, the lower Sport and Touring grades boast maximum outputs of 140kW and 252Nm. All variants receive a six-speed automatic transmission driving the front wheels only.

Price range: From $35,790 for the Sport automatic, up to $51,190 for the Atenza automatic (before on-road costs)
Current drive-away offers: N/A
Boot size: 506 litres (1648 with rear seats folded)
ANCAP safety rating: Five stars, tested in 2018
Warranty: Five-year/unlimited kilometre


MODELMINIMUM PRICEMAXIMUM PRICE
Skoda Fabia wagon$18,890$25,490
Volkswagen Golf wagon$29,290$57,990
Skoda Octavia wagon$29,490$49,090
Peugeot 308 wagon$32,499$32,499
Mazda 6 wagon$35,790$51,190

Note: All prices exclude on-road costs.