Best cars 2024: the very best cars to buy in the UK reviewed and rated

If you're looking to buy a new car in 2024, this list should be your starting point – from hatchbacks to SUVs, and electric cars to hybrids, these are the best models on sale...

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by
Darren Moss
Published11 April 2024

If you've spent a little time on What Car?, you'll know that we regularly run you through the top cars of a given type – whether your interest lies in SUVs, sports cars, or something in between, we'll have it. But what if you're not sure what type of car you want, and just want to know what we consider to be the UK's best cars on sale today? That's where this story can help.

Here, we've listed the 10 best cars on sale today, regardless of price, market, or any other factor – these are simply the best cars to buy in 2024. And while you'll notice that the Lexus LBX – our reigning What Car? Car of the Year – doesn't top this list, remember that our annual Car of the Year Awards recognise the best new cars launched in the past year. This list is for the best new cars you can buy today, including those which might have been launched a few years ago.

Kia Sportage, Honda ZR-V and Renault Austral

Of course, when it comes to naming the best cars, we don't make decisions lightly. In fact, our road testers spend hours behind the wheel of each new model, covering thousands of miles in our contenders in a variety of weather and road conditions. We test their performance, their practicality, and what each car is like to live with – all leading to a verdict you can trust. And after all that testing, we can say with confidence that the best car you can buy today is the Kia Sportage. To find out which version we recommend, though, and the other nine cars which make up our best cars list, you'll have to keep reading.

Remember that if any car here takes your fancy, you can read more about them in our in-depth reviews, or see how much we can save you without the hassle of haggling using our free New Car Deals service.

Below are the very best new cars on sale today, but you can also click the links to find more information on other types of cars?

Best small cars
Best small SUVs
Best family cars
Best family SUVs
Best electric cars
Best electric SUVs
Best executive cars
Best large SUVs
Best luxury SUVs
Best coupés
Best performance cars


The 2024 What Car? Reliability Survey is live, tell us about your car now

Our pick: 1.6T GDi 157 48V ISG 3 5dr

0-62mph: 9.9 sec
MPG/range: 42.8mpg
CO2 emissions: 149g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 562 litres
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Lower-spec models are great value
  • Smart interior
  • Generous rear leg room and boot space

Weaknesses

  • Hybrid petrol engine sounds strained
  • Rear head room compromised with panoramic roof
  • No clever rear seat functions

Family SUVs are among the most sought-after cars on sale today, and the latest Kia Sportage is the cream of the crop.

As our reigning Family SUV of the Year, it offers buyers a choice of mild, hybrid and plug-in hybrid power options – meaning that whether you want to plug it in or not, the Sportage can help to lower your fuel bills.

Our favourite version is the regular hybrid, which combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine with an electric motor. This allows the Sportage to run for short distances on electric power alone, but it doesn't need to be plugged in to recharge its battery. It feels quick, too, and beat the rival Ford Kuga hybrid and the Honda ZR-V to 60mph in our tests.

The Sportage is a comfortable choice, too, rounding off all but the biggest potholes. Only the Volvo XC40 does a better job – and that car is a fair amount more expensive. In fact, the starting price for the Kia Sportage roundly undercuts rivals such as the Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-5 and Peugeot 3008. It's not like Kia has skimped on equipment to do that, either, with even entry-level cars getting climate and cruise controls, 17in alloy wheels and an electronic parking brake.

We still think it's worth upgrading to '3' trim, however, which gets an upgraded infotainment setup and heated front and rear seats, plus adaptive cruise control to help take the stress out of long journeys.

“Like all Kias, the Sportage comes with the reassurance of a seven-year warranty should anything go wrong. That's not likely, though, because the brand consistently performs well in our annual What Car? Reliability Survey.” – Claire Evans, Consumer Editor

Read our in-depth Kia Sportage review

Our pick: RWD 4dr Auto

0-62mph: 6.1 sec
CO2 emissions: 0g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 594 litres
Insurance group: 36D
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Fast and reliable charging via Tesla's Supercharger network
  • Long range between charges
  • Surprisingly practical

Weaknesses

  • Fiddly interior controls
  • Handling not as entertaining as the best petrol-powered rivals
  • Windscreen pillars hamper visibility

Like a lot of the cars on this list, the all-electric Tesla Model 3 comes with a number of accolades – it's our favourite executive car, electric car and company car.

Winning three of our current best-for categories is no small feat, but the breadth of the Model 3's talents is very broad indeed. Even in entry-level rear-wheel drive form, the Model 3 is quick – beating the Hyundai Ioniq 6 to 60mph in our tests, and matching the entry-level BMW i4 and BYD Seal.

Then there's the range. RWD models have an official range of 318 miles between charges, while Long Range models can take you 390 miles. And while it's worth taking those figures with a pinch of salt, the Long Range model still managed 293 miles in cold conditions in our real-world winter range test.

When you do need to plug in, Tesla's super-fast and super-reliable Supercharger network is the best in the business – and it's recently been upgraded to allow non-Tesla cars to charge using its stations too. 

Tesla's minimalist interior design, which sees almost every function being controlled through the central touchscreen, won't be to everyone's taste, but the system is quick to respond and offers lots of features. And while your rear passengers will be slightly more comfortable in a Volkswagen ID 7, the space the Model 3 offers will be fine for most people, most of the time.

“While I did eventually get used to them, Tesla's haptic buttons on its steering wheel, which you use to control functions like the indicators, windscreen wipers and cruise control, feels like a solution to a problem which shouldn't exist.” – Will Nightingale, Reviews Editor

Read our in-depth Tesla Model 3 review

Our pick: 420i M Sport 2dr Step Auto

0-62mph: 7.5 sec
MPG/range: 44.8mpg
CO2 emissions: 144g/km
Seats: 4
Boot: 440 litres
Insurance group: 30E
Driving
Interior
Practicality
Buying & Owning

Strengths

  • More fun to drive than direct rivals
  • Range-topping M440i is seriously rapid
  • Back seats are more usable than you might imagine

Weaknesses

  • Divisive looks
  • Rivals have more versatile folding rear seats
  • Some wind and tyre noise

Think of this entry for the BMW 4 Series as being two recommendations in one – because whether you opt for it as a coupé or as a convertible, this is one fantastic car.

There's no diesel option for high-mileage 4 Series drivers though, meaning your engine choices are confined to a 181bhp petrol in the 420i, or a 369bhp six-cylinder alternative in the range-topping M440i. While the latter is bombastically fast, the former is the option we recommend – it's perfectly fast enough for most situations, yet should also be reasonably economical to run.

In the 4 Series Coupé, the standard passive suspension allows you to scythe through corners more enthusiastically than you could in the rival Audi A5 or Mercedes CLE. And while the 4 Series Convertible is heavier due to the extra body strengthening it requires, it'll still tackle corners with agility and poise – and with steering that's precise enough to let you place the car exactly where you want it.

Inside, both cars benefit from BMW's iDrive infotainment system, which sets the standard for usability thanks to its rotary controller on the centre console. You can also interact with the system via your voice, touch or gestures, but the physical controller makes it easy to use on the move. Build quality is first rate, too.

“Most versions of the 4 Series benefit from mild hybrid technology – which I love because it helps to lower my fuel bills” – Lawrence Cheung, New Cars Editor

Read our in-depth BMW 4 Series review

Our pick: 4.0 GTS 2dr

0-62mph: 4.5 sec
MPG/range: 25.9mpg
CO2 emissions: 247g/km
Seats: 2
Boot: 270 litres
Insurance group: 46E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Brilliant handling
  • Wonderful six-cylinder GTS engine
  • High quality

Weaknesses

  • Stingy standard equipment
  • Lack of safety equipment
  • Disappointing sound of the smaller four-cylinder engines

A good sports car must be entertaining to drive, of course, but a great one should also be reasonably easy to live with, and come at a price which puts it within reach of a decent percentage of buyers, rather than the wealthiest 1%. The Porsche Cayman is one such car.

It's available in a wide variety of guises, beginning with the entry-level 2.0-litre engine, through the more powerful 2.5-litre S, and ending with the range-topping GTS version. It's the latter we recommend, because it endows the Cayman with a 4.0-litre six-cylinder engine which, in our opinion, is an absolute gem. It sounds fantastic, has outrageous pace – the Cayman GTS will almost match the rival BMW M2 in a 0-60mph sprint – yet is also happy to bumble around town when you need it to.

GTS models come with adaptive suspension as standard – but lesser Caymans ride perfectly well on their standard setups. No matter which version you choose, the Cayman's wonderfully precise and perfectly weighted steering will have you grinning from ear to ear through the corners, while its taught body control and outstanding grip gives you the confidence to push on.

While space is at a premium inside the Cayman, but a tall driver and front passenger will have plenty of room to stretch out. And while we wish Porsche offered you more standard kit, everything inside the Cayman feels built to last and is made from high-quality materials.

“While its mid-engined layout means there aren't any rear seats in the Cayman, there are a couple of coat hooks on the backs of the front seats to hang jackets from, and some small cubby spaces with sliding lids for snacks or peripherals” – Neil Winn, Deputy Reviews Editor

Read our in-depth Porsche Cayman review

Our pick: xDrive40d MHT M Sport 5dr Step Auto

0-62mph: 5.9 sec
MPG/range: 36.2mpg
CO2 emissions: 205g/km
Seats: 7
Boot: 750 litres
Insurance group: 50E
Driving
Interior
Practicality
Buying & Owning

Strengths

  • Supremely quiet and comfortable
  • Incredibly spacious and practical
  • Great infotainment system

Weaknesses

  • There are cheaper alternatives
  • Looks won’t be to all tastes
  • No plug-in hybrid or electric option

However you choose to define luxury, the BMW X7 comes out on top.

If luxury to you means sumptuous materials and lots of tech, then the X7's graphically rich infotainment system, plush materials and stellar build quality will have you impressed.

Alternatively, if luxury means having all the room you could want to stretch out, then we'd ask you to sit in the X7's front or middle seats, which offer exactly the sort of first-class experience you'd expect. And even better, should you need to carry two more passengers, the X7's rearmost seats will be fine for a couple of six-footers, and they'll have more head room than they would in the rival Range Rover.

Perhaps luxury means the abundance of choice? Well, the X7 can be had with petrol or diesel power, with the former offering up to 523bhp in range-topping M60i form, and the latter being our pick of the range in xDrive40d guise, thanks to its smooth power delivery and reasonable running costs.

Elsewhere, the X7's standard-fit air suspension does a fine job of soaking up the lumps and bumps of battered British roads, and despite its hefty weight, the X7 feels more gainly through bends than the Land Rover Discovery or Mercedes GLS.

“M Sport Pro trim is only slightly more expensive than entry-level Excellence, but its extra desirability means that you should get more of your money back when you come to sell it on. It also means the monthly PCP finance cost isn't that much higher.” – Neil Winn, Deputy Reviews Editor

Read our in-depth BMW X7 review

Our pick: 1.5 Premium Plus 5dr E-CVT

0-62mph: 9.2 sec
MPG/range: 61.4mpg
CO2 emissions: 103g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 402 litres
Insurance group: 24E
Driving
Interior
Practicality
Buying & Owning

Strengths

  • High-quality interior
  • Efficient hybrid system
  • Very well equipped

Weaknesses

  • Fidgety low-speed ride
  • Tight rear seat space

Our reigning What Car? Car of the Year, the Lexus LBX, mixes hybrid efficiency with the kind of premium interior and comfort you'd expect from the Lexus brand – and all at a price which won't break the bank.

Based on the Toyota Yaris Cross – which, remember, is the most efficient car to ever go through our real-world fuel economy tests – the LBX features a 1.5-litre petrol engine working in tandem with an electric motor. That engine has been tuned for more power, though, so the LBX feels noticably faster than its Toyota sibling. Indeed, it's quicker up to 62mph than the rival, petrol-only Audi Q2 30 TFSI.

The engine is wonderfully refined, and the LBX switches between its power sources very well. The interior is plush, too, featuring high-quality materials and thoughtful spaces for your odds and ends. The clean, uncluttered dashboard keeps things simple, but we like that there are physical controls for the climate – which makes changing the temperature on the move a doddle.

Although only a small SUV, the LBX still has a decent amount of space, although rear-seat passengers will find that they have more room to stretch out in the Skoda Kamiq or Q2. Despite losing a little boot space to its battery, we managed to fit the same number of carry-on suitcases (six) below the LBX's parcel shelf as we did in the Q2.

As a bonus, Lexus regularly finishes among the top brands in our survey of the most reliable new cars, suggesting that its cars simply don't go wrong – and in the rare cases that they do, the brand is quick to put things right.

“Despite wearing a premium badge, the LBX represents fantastic value. Not only should it be cheap to run, but prices start at less than £30,000. Plus, strong residual values should mean relatively low PCP finance costs.” – Stuart Milne, Digital Editor

Read our in-depth Lexus LBX review

Our pick: 1.0 TCe 90 Techno 5dr

0-62mph: 12.2 sec
MPG/range: 54.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 119g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 284 litres
Insurance group: 11E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Smart interior is packed with equipment
  • Good ride and handling balance
  • Practical boot

Weaknesses

  • Tight for taller adults in the rear seats
  • Slightly firm low-speed ride
  • High boot loading lip

Britain's best small car is also one which has been consistently popular for generations – the Renault Clio.

This latest version gets bold looks to keep it in line with Renault's larger offerings, most notably the Megane E-Tech electric car and the Austral family SUV, but there's plenty of substance to go with that style.

You can choose between regular petrol or hybrid power in the Clio, and while the former's 1.0-litre three-cylinder setup won't set any performance records – it offers just 90bhp and can sprint from 0-62mph in a relatively leisurely 12.3sec – it's perfectly fine for dashing around town. Indeed, it's our recommended choice for most buyers, not least because it helps to keep the price as low as possible.

The hybrid, meanwhile, produces 143bhp from its petrol engine and electric motor, meaning it feels faster, although it can take the engine a little time to wake up when you're accelerating from a standstill.

The rival Skoda Fabia or Volkswagen Polo do a better job of rounding off potholes, but the Clio fights back with more direct steering, meaning you get a better sense of connection to what the front wheels are up to than you would in the Fabia or Vauxhall Corsa.

The Clio's temptingly low price is backed up by low running costs and a strong array of standard kit. Indeed, even entry-level Evolution trim comes with everything you're likely to need.

“I found the Clio's driving position very comfortable, and it's easy to see all around the car. Even better, it features materials which belie its price, comparing well with both the Polo and the Audi A1.” – Darren Moss, Deputy Digital Editor

Read our in-depth Renault Clio review

Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Long range and fast charging
  • Loads of rear legroom
  • Seven-year Kia warranty

Weaknesses

  • Shallow boot
  • Not exactly cheap
  • Slightly firm ride

This former What Car? Car of the Year remains one of the best electric cars around, and is our favourite electric SUV.

Not only does it have a stellar range – up to 328 miles according to official figures, and up to 270 miles in real-world conditions – but it's also fast. The cheapest RWD versions come with a single 226bhp motor, which managed to out-sprint the rival Volkswagen ID 4 and Nissan Ariya to 60mph in our tests, while the pricer AWD model gets a second motor, upping the total power to 321bhp. 

If you want to go even faster, the range-topping EV6 GT gets 577bhp and can hit 62mph in 3.5sec – but sacrifices some range in the process.

The EV6's ride is firmer than what you'll find in some electric SUVs, but the trade-off is taughter body control, meaning it's more engaging to drive than some mainstream electric SUVs. That's helped by strong grip and being slightly lower than most rivals. We'd like more feel from the steering, but it's accurate enough to let you place the EV6 exactly where you want it.

Given its price, the EV6 has a finely crafted interior which beats the closely related Hyundai Ioniq 5 for quality, and even matches up to the Audi Q4 e-tron. It's spacious, too, with more head room for rear passengers than you'd find in the Genesis GV60.

There's space for a decent haul of luggage in the boot, plus there's a small front boot which, in our recommended RWD models, is large enough for an overnight bag or your shopping.

“Go for GT-Line trim if you can, because it brings useful kit including electronically adjustable front seats, adaptive LED headlights and tinted rear windows for a very reasonable price increase over the entry-level Air models.” – Doug Revolta, Head of Video

Read our in-depth Kia EV6 review

Our pick: 1.8 Hybrid Icon 5dr CVT

0-62mph: 9.1 sec
MPG/range: 64.2mpg
CO2 emissions: 100g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 361 litres
Insurance group: 17E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Low CO2 emissions and great fuel economy
  • Comfortable ride
  • Loads of standard kit

Weaknesses

  • Cramped in the back
  • So-so infotainment system
  • 12.3in digital instrument cluster could be easier to use

No family car covers as many bases as well as the Toyota Corolla. From the outset, it makes plenty of sense whether you're buying one privately or as a company car, thanks to the low running costs offered by its hybrid setup, and the fact that resale values are predicted to be high, resulting in low monthly PCP finance costs.

Then there's the performance, with recent updates allowing the Corolla to put out 138bhp from its combined 1.8-litre petrol engine and electric motor. That means the Corolla has more than enough performance for everyday driving, and will easily keep up with motorway traffic.

If you need more oomph, then the brawnier 2.0-litre version drops the 0-62mph sprint time to a respectable 7.4sec, which makes it faster than most versions of the rival Honda Civic. Plus, of course, you can drive for short distances – usually around town – mainly on electric power.

The Corolla's ride quality beats even the super-comfy Ford Focus, and while its body can move around a little on country roads, it's still better tied down than the Peugeot 308.

Its skinny windscreen means looking out of the Corolla at junctions is a breeze, and while you might initially feel a little underwhelmed by the Corolla's conservative interior design, everything feels like it was made to withstand a nuclear detonation – or at the very least a horde of children and pets.

“I'd recommend avoiding the larger 18in alloy wheels which come on GR Sport and Excel versions of the Corolla. They don't ruin the ride, but you'll notice a difference compared with standard wheels when you go over sharper bumps in the road.” – Dan Jones, Reviewer

Read our in-depth Toyota Corolla review

Our pick: 3.0 D250 S 110 5dr Auto

0-62mph: 8.3 sec
MPG/range: 33.1mpg
CO2 emissions: 223g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 786 litres
Insurance group: 37E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Comfortable on the road, excellent off it
  • Up to eight seats
  • Slow depreciation

Weaknesses

  • Higher trim levels are very pricey
  • Fuel economy and CO2 emissions are poor
  • Tiny boot in 90 models

You might think of the Land Rover Defender and picture an SUV capable of fording rivers, crossing deserts and climbing mountains all in the course of a single morning. The latest Defender can do all of those things – but unlike previous Defenders, it's also a very comfy SUV on the road.

Available in long-ish 90, long 110 and very-long 130 forms, the Defender is as versatile an SUV as you could ask for, and that's reflected in in its engine line-up. Petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid versions are available, with our preferred option being the mid-range D300 diesel. With 296bhp available, it's feels usefully faster, making progress even on faster roads feel effortless.

If you've been searching for a car with a lofty driving position, the Defender's will suit you, because it lets you look down on most other cars. And while the Defender's dashboard. is very much fit for purpose, with chunky dials and clear digital instruments, it's also easy to get along with. The quality is top notch, too, with everything you touch regularly feeling like it's been built to last.

A couple of tall adults will be relatively comfy in the back of the shortest 90 versions, but our recommended Defender 110 models offer palatial space for your family to stretch out. It's not quite the luxury experience you'd get in the rival Audi Q7 or BMW X5, but it's still comfortable.

When it comes to carrying capacity, we managed to fit seven carry-on suitcases into the Defender 110's boot, beating the Jeep Wrangler, but it's worth noting some luxury SUVs can carry more.

“As well as its extra space, going for a Defender 110 gets you standard air suspension, which does a good job of taking the sting out of bigger abrasions in the Tarmac. The Defender 90, with its regular suspension is still comfy, but it jiggles around more than the 110 when you're driving over lumps and bumps.” – Mark Pearson, Used Cars Editor

Read our in-depth Land Rover Defender review