Could estates be making a comeback? MPVs and SUVs have been taking a big chunk out of that market in recent years. But companies like Kia think that trend may be in reverse gear.
They point out that the lifestyle and leisure vehicles are becoming expensive to buy and run and have styling and design compromises.
So Kia have plenty of confidence in their new cee'd SW - their first ever estate car. Not only is it a practical and stylish newcomer, it also comes with an industry-best seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty - an unrivalled expression of faith in the cars coming out of Zilina in Slovakia autel.
The cee'd SW (I can never remember how to write it, although I've learned to say it) has the same wheelbase as the highly-acclaimed five-door hatchback, and an identical front end. Even the rear doors are the same. But the body has been stretched by 235mm and the SW is 10mm taller and has smart roof rails to set it apart.
Kia have done a clever thing by extending the tailgate into the rear roofline, so that owners can stand closer to the car when sorting luggage - the big cutaway area also gives excellent access for loading and unloading.
The load floor is also dead flat and at bumper level, so that luggage can simply be slid on or off and rear seats fully rumble to create a truly horizontal platform.
Kia blot their copybook slightly by providing a rather naff pull-down boot strap - not terribly high-tech but practical, I suppose.
The end product is that the SW model can hold almost 300 litres more than its stablemate hatchback.
And let's not forget the 55 litres of space in trays beneath the boot floor - a handy touch.
Kia also point out that the SW version is only £700 more than the equivalent hatchback whereas rivals such as Ford Focus estate, Vauxhall Astra estate and Renault Megane Sport Tourer are about £970 more for the equivalent.
Apart from a dingy interior (old fashioned black and grey two-tone seat fabric autel maxidas ds808, black dash with grey underneath, dull grey roof and pillars), I liked the cee'd SW and found it a practical, solid and smart medium estate.
Doors shut with a convincing thud and the soft-feel upper dash and doors are tactile.
Comfortable seats have big, wide cushions and are handily height adjustable, with a rotating wheel for accurate rake control.
The dashboard is very low level and simply sorted for easy identification on the move but the bonnet slopes away so sharply that none of it can be seen when manoeuvring.
The speedo, flagged up at 20/40/60 marks, misses the important 30mph and 70mph numbers but main displays are clear and readable on the move, despite their quirky cut-off needles.
The 1.6 petrol model I tested does need a heavy right foot to pull the best out of it but it does eventually respond well with plenty of clout, even if it's a bit boomy at the top end.
A positive five-speed gearbox is solid and has an predictable, easy change, but a clonky action.
Handling is predictable but unremarkable and this isn't the sort of car for a thrash around the lanes or to take out just for the hell of it.
Steering, in particular, is a little woolly and uninvolving.
But the SW's sheer usefulness and solid value will win it many friends as estates make a fresh attack on the leisure market.
* Kia cee'd SW, prices from £12,995-£14,995.
* Made in state-of-the-art factory at Zilina in Slovakia alongside acclaimed five-door hatchback cee'd.
* Best-in-industry seven year/100,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.
* Body stretched by 235mm compared with hatchback and 10mm taller, excluding roof rails.
* Luggage capacity of 1,664 litres with seats folded flat.
* Three 1.6-litre engines; one petrol and two turbodiesel.
* Five-speed gearboxes as standard but four-speed automatic available with the petrol engine.
* Estate model aimed predominantly as a fleet car.
* Exceptionally stiff bodyshell, aerodynamic shape.
* Independent front and rear suspension benefits ride and handling.
For further information about buying new cars like the Kia Ceed, visit