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Posted by Matt Bell on 25th November 2019

In this week’s Market Trends we look at three cars that offer off-road capabilities but in estate format. These are the SUV alternatives.

Audi Allroad (1999-2005)

The word Quattro still had impact when Audi introduced the Allroad, a complex go-anywhere version of their new A6 in 1999. It seemed like the ultimate evolution of the brand’s technological journey, centred largely around the all-wheel-drive system which had won them so much recognition. It was a vastly expensive vehicle for its time, joining the ranks of the A8 and RS6 as Audi’s first proper attack of the top of its rivals’ ranges. But of the three it has depreciated the most dramatically, primarily for the reputation its air-suspension had for collapsing.

They still sold plenty and, despite the model generally roaming the £500-£1000 region in the classifieds for a good few years, there remain enough for today’s buyer to shop around. Most still sell for less than £2000, although some examples are starting to ask for £3000 on the basis of condition and specification. The thirsty and unreliable 2.7 turbocharged petrol models tend to be out of favour against the more common diesels, and the rare manual gearbox versions with low range can sometimes justify a small premium.

What can often be huge running costs and a relative lack any street cred for being seen in one, particularly considering the scrappy condition many standard A6s of this generation are in, will likely keep values suppressed for now. Only a small number of devoted enthusiasts will be buying these cars for now. However, with 100 and 200 Avants going up in value, especially Quattro models, we wonder if the Allroads will someday follow in their footsteps as much as they were part of Audi’s history of ascent to the top.

Subaru Legacy (1989-1993)

Subaru’s Legacy of 1989 was a big leap for the relatively small manufacturer, being a much-needed modern model to replace the aging L-series equivalents. It got off to a slow start, but by the second generation in 1995, it had proved itself a capable, pleasant car, and one that a certain Colin McCrae had rallied to success in his first two years in Subaru’s World Rally Team.

Naturally then, it’s the saloons in turbocharged form that are most desirable, but the similarly equipped estates are keeping up the chase. A standard 217bhp version is a very difficult car to find these days, and prices for good examples reflect this: expect to pay upwards of £5000. This is up a good 40% from 5-7 years ago, although the best manual saloons caught on sooner than that. Normally aspirated models have long been priced in the hundreds, offering as little as half the performance of their turbocharged siblings, but nice examples are now very thin on the ground and rarity is slowly driving up values.

Retro appreciation of the range as a whole is building, bringing all early Legacys into the thousands of pounds at least, while the turbocharged models look to continue boosting their values. Prices of its successor, particularly the twin-turbocharged models like the GT, are beginning to consistently breach the £5000 mark, hinting at the potential for some of these rarer, earlier cars.

SUV Alternatives

Volvo V70XC (1998-2000)

The new generation of front-wheel-drive Volvos came in with the 850 in 1992, and in 1996 a special all-wheel-drive version was added almost as a market test. In 1998, with the big facelift to the S70 and V70 range, there was a new car based on the AWD model that added plastic bumpers and a raised ride height. It would quickly become Volvo’s best-selling model, particularly in the US where it outsold the rest of the range put together.

It didn’t sell in huge numbers here, but well enough. Today, many have finally succumbed to the abuse that so many throw at Volvo estates and so finding a tidy one can be surprisingly difficult. About a third remain on the road than were in 2010, and values have begun to reflect this. A nice one that was £1000 in 2010 for example can be priced as much as £4000 by an ambitious dealer today. Scruffy ones do still occasionally appear on the market and, often with very few owners and photographed next to a tractor, can sell for £1500. That’s a great deal more than the few hundred quid such cars used to sell for.

With a cult following for today’s V90 Cross Country and the undoubted success of the XC brand, classic appreciation of the original is, we reckon, inevitable. However, the scope of popularity is still ultimately to be bound to a limited cult status.