2020 What Car? Car of the Year Awards: the contenders continued
In January, we'll reveal the best new cars in every category, plus our overall Car of the Year. These are the models in contention...
Porsche Cayenne Coupé
If the regular Cayenne is a bit too much SUV for you and its shape doesn’t cut the mustard, check out the coupe version. It’s 20mm lower with a sloping roofline that sharpens up the looks. Keen handling and a classy interior are further plus points.
If you like the idea of an SUV with a sleek, coupé-like roofline, then the X4’s svelte lines will probably appeal to you. The X4 also offers great handling, while inside you'll find BMW's iDrive infotainment system, which is among the best in the business
Mercedes GLE Coupé
With a punchy diesel engine and a comfortable ride, the GLE Coupé is capable of touring across entire countries while keeping you fresh. We also like that it's very quiet on the move.
This new version of Toyota's SUV-Coupé gets a new 2.0-litre hybrid setup and an improved interior to go with its subtly updated looks. The new engine brings a welcome boost over the old 1.8-litre engine option, and low CO2 emissions means it makes a lot of sense as a company car.
Sports car: Alpine A110
Aston Martin DBS/DBS Volante
The ultimate Ason Martin model is also the best – it’s the best front-engined, rear-wheel drive GT we’ve driven. It’s an epic car that you can enjoy on the road and on the race track.
Audi TT RS
The range-topping TT model packs a punch with its gorgeous-sounding 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine. It may not be the sharpest sports car to drive, but few rivals can match its pace or its beautifully crafted interior.
Audi TT Roadster
Heavily revised in 2019, the TT Roadster can be had with a choice of four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engines. Unusually, it’s the smallest and most affordable we rate the highest because it has peppy performance while also keeping costs sensible.
Mercedes-AMG GT coupé/roadster
Fitted with AMG’s twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine, the GT not only has all performance could wish for, it sounds superb too. On top of that, it looks fantastic and it has entertaining handling.
Porsche 718 Boxster/Cayman T
The Boxster is Porsche’s cheapest convertible, yet also one of its best. It’s sensational to drive, has brilliant handling and a classy interior. Similarly, the Cayman is one of the best sports cars you can buy. You just need to choose if you want to be able to go roofless or not.
The 911 is a thrilling sports car. It’s seriously rapid and great to drive on all types of roads. If you pick the coupe rather than the roadster, you get a pair of tiny rear seats that make it slightly more practical than two-seater alternatives.
Porsche Boxster Spyder
With the same oily bits as a 718 Cayman GT4, the Boxster Spyder is a proper sports car dressed in a svelte suit. It has a fabulous flat-six engine and GT4 suspension, making it better to drive than many pricier cars.
Toyota borrowed heavily from the BMW Z4 for the Supra. It shares the M40i’s 3.0-litre turbocharged engine, as well as its gearbox and suspension, making it entertaining to drive. It also has a comfortable ride and enough practicality to make it a useable everyday car.
Performance car: Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
Our reigning performance car of the year doesn’t have the brash styling or brutish sounding engine of its German rivals, it is simply the most rewarding sports saloon to drive - and that’s what’s important in this category.
The S4’s luxurious big brother also uses a diesel engine to provide effortless performance and decent fuel economy. It’s not the most engaging to drive, but it’s supremely comfortable if you choose the optional air suspension.
Audi RS3 saloon
With the 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine from the TT-RS under its bonnet, the RS3 is ridiculously rapid with a sonorous exhaust note.
Audi RS5 Sportback
An accomplished, all-weather tourer, the RS5 is stupendously fast and practical enough to cope with family life. Its handling and steering aren’t class-leading, but its interior is the epitome of elegance.
Mercedes-AMG C63 AMG Coupé
With a twin-turbocharged V8 under its bonnet, there’s no doubt that the C63 is extremely rapid; and that engine makes a great noise. It also steers well and has a delightfully balanced chassis.
Mercedes-AMG GT 4-door
The GT 4-door shares its chassis with the E-Class, but the engineers at AMG have worked their magic on it and fitted it with the awesome, hand-built, twin-turbo, 4.0-litre V8 that sits in nearly every other pukka AMG product. The result is a great car for a weekend blast along some country lanes.
Mercedes A35 AMG Saloon
The German car maker’s entry-level hot hatchback has strong performance, a grippy chassis and a classy interior.
With more electric range than most plug-in hybrids and the pace to out-gun most sports cars, the Polestar 1 has the substance to back up its Scandi-cool looks.
Small electric car: Hyundai Ioniq Electric
A facelift in 2019 has broadened the appeal of Hyundai’s electric hatchback, pushing its range to 194 miles and upgrading the quality of its interior. It’s better to drive, too.
Our reigning Car of the Year still offers an impressive mix of range and affordability. It can travel for up to 253 miles between charges in real-world conditions, offers punchy acceleration and comes loaded with equipment.
Kia Soul EV
Can lightning strike twice? Kia is hoping so, having packaged the e-Niro’s battery and electric motor into a larger SUV body. Funky looks aside, the Soul EV promises the same big range and impressive kit list as its smaller sibling.
MG ZS EV
The MG ZS EV offers a lot of value for money, especially for anyone wanting to try electric motoring on a budget. There’s plenty of room for passengers, a big boot, and every version comes well equipped.
Seat Mii Electric
Seat’s Mii city car gets electric power and a price tag which makes it affordable for many. Its official range is 162 miles, which is more than most rivals will get you.
Skoda Citigo iEV
Powered by an 81bhp electric motor, Skoda’s first electric car promises both decent range and a low price.
Large electric car: Audi E-tron
The only hydrogen-fuelled car to make our list this year, the Nexo is relaxing to drive and has a spacious interior. There’s a hefty price to pay for its green credentials, though.
With a Real Range result of 253 miles, the I-Pace can take you farther between charges than many electric rivals. That it’s also entertaining to drive and great to look at is a bonus.
Mercedes’ first electric SUV impressed us with its quiet manner and comfortable ride. It also returned a decent real-world range of 208 miles.
Tesla Model 3
The Model 3 was one of 2019’s most anticipated new cars, and sure enough it didn’t disappoint. It can travel up to 239 miles on a single charge in real-world conditions, has a futuristic interior, offers eye-widening acceleration and it’s surprisingly practical too.
Tesla Model S Long Range
Updates to both the Model S luxury saloon and the Model X seven-seat SUV have given both cars greater range in 2019. That means the Model S will now carry you 379 miles between charges officially, yet it can still get you to 62mph faster than most sports cars.
Tesla Model X Long Range
A long range, space for seven people and all the tech you could want sounds like an impossible dream, but the Model X has proven that for those with deep pockets, it’s finally achievable.
Hybrid: Honda CR-V Hybrid
Two electric motors and a petrol engine combine to power the latest generation of Honda’s high-selling family SUV. The net result is a relatively economical and highly practical car.
Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
Think of this as Hyundai’s answer to the Toyota Prius and you won’t go far wrong - although its maker may complain as we have often preferred the balance of price and functionality over its rival.
Hyundai Kona Hybrid
Officially, the Kona Hybrid can return 52.3mpg and emit just 99g/km of CO2, keeping it in a low (23%) benefit-in-kind tax group, which is great news for company car drivers.
Subaru Forester e-Boxer
A small electric motor supplements the engine, giving a sleight boost to performance for a very small weight disadvantage - making it an interesting take on the hybrid narrative in the typically distinctive Forester.
Subaru XV e-Boxer
Subaru’s SUV features strong level of standard equipment, especially to improve safety, and is well-built, spacious and has a wholesome appeal on the inside; and it retains that secure, sure-footed handling the brand trades on.
This large saloon combines a 2.5-litre engine with a plant-saving electric motor to boost economy and evade charges for London’s ULEZ low emissions zone.
Now reunited with its legendary name, Toyota’s small family car is a great all-rounder that comes with a choice of hybrid-powered performance outputs, offering something for both the resolutely eco-focused driver and those with an eye on a bit more performance.
Heard the one about the SUV that pumps out less CO2 than a 1.0-litre Ford Fiesta? Well, thanks to its frugal hybrid powertrain, the RAV4 is the car that does that, combining this attribute with several other capabilities to make for a seriously tempting proposition.
Substantially more than half the hybrids sold in the world to date are hybrids – and it is the Prius that has led the way in growing those record-breaking numbers. This latest version is the most rounded – and thereby appealing – to date.
Toyota Yaris Hybrid
What Car?’s True MPG testing suggests that there is no car on sale in Britain that betters the Yaris Hybrid’s fuel economy in town, and while that figure suffers slightly when averaged with faster driving, it does serve to highlight why this model is so highly rated.
Plug-in Hybrid car: Audi Q5 TFSIe
The first of a new breed of Audi plug-in hybrids, the Q5 TFSIe has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and an electric motor. Its official pure-electric range is 26 miles and its CO2 emissions are just 49g/km. On top of that it has sharp handling and a smooth ride.
Audi Q7 TFSIe
The plug-in hybrid version of our favourite luxury SUV can travel for 25 miles on pure electric power. It possesses many of the merits of other Q7 models, including a luxurious interior with near-limousine like levels of comfort and space for rear seat passengers. The only downside is it can only be had with five seats.
BMW X5 xDrive45e
BMW’s luxury SUV beats rivals on range with a whopping 54 miles of pure electric travel. Powered by a smooth six-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor, it’s very quick if you wish to prioritise performance over economy.
The plug-in hybrid version of our Executive Car of the Year for 2019 is powered by a 2.0-litre petrol engine and an electric motor. Its electric range is around 35 miles and it has adequate performance even when driven using the batteries. Let the petrol engine kick in and it’s great fun to drive along twisty country roads.
The BMW 5 Series is a brilliant, classy and wonderfully refined luxury saloon, and the plug-in hybrid version improves on its already reasonable running costs. It can be driven for up to 29 miles on pure electric power, and its CO2 emissions are impressively low at 46g/km.
Both the battery pack that sits beneath the rear seats and the electric motor that’s integrated into the gearbox on the 745e have been upgraded. The result is an electrified powertrain that’s a delight - stick it in Sport mode and it makes a gorgeous noise and has pin-sharp responses.
DS7 Crossback E-Tense
You might expect a large four-wheel drive SUV with a 0-62mph time of just 5.9sec to have an insatiable thirst for fuel, but the DS7 Crossback E-Tense achieved more than 200mpg in official tests and emits as little as 33g/km of CO2.
Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid
A handsome, capable and well-equipped machine, the Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid gets one over on rivals because it’s also far more affordable to buy. And it has a competitive electric range and a roomy, smartly styled interior.
Unusually, the C-Class plug-in hybrid pairs its electric motor and battery pack with a diesel engine, so when you’re not running in electric mode it’s more efficient and less polluting than petrol-engined rivals.
The E300de plug-in hybrid combines the benefits of pure electric driving with the greater economy of a diesel engine. It’s silent and smooth when driven gently around town and it cruises effortlessly at motorway speeds.
Skoda Superb iV PHEV
The plug-in hybrid version of the Superb has been introduced alongside a facelift that brightens up the bodywork and interior and adds some high-tech features. The iV adds improved economy and emissions: it’ll travel for 34 miles on electric only power, and produces 40g.km CO2.
Volkswagen Passat GTE
Available as a saloon or estate, the hugely practical Passat GTE can travel for up to 34 miles in pure electric mode at speeds up to 80mph. Its 1.4-litre petrol engine is surprisingly nippy, too.
Volvo S60 T8
A plug-in hybrid executive saloon with tiny emissions and explosive straight-line performance, the S60 T8 can sprint past 62mph in 4.6sec. Take a more gentle approach and you’ll see 70mpg on a mixed driving route and around 30 miles on electric-only power.
Volvo XC90 T8
The T8 is the swiftest model in the XC90 line-up with the ability to smash the 0-62mph dash in 5.6sec. It can be frugal too - it’ll take you 25 miles into your journey on battery power alone. It’s eminently practical too as it’s the only plug-in hybrid to retain seating for seven.
Executive car: Alfa Romeo Giulia
If you fancy injecting some Italian style into your commute, the Alfa Romeo Giulia is an excellent place to start, with engaging handling and strong performance, especially from its petrol engines.
A former What Car? Car of the Year and still a five-star contender, the Audi A4 offers everything you could want from an executive saloon. It has a comfortable and inviting interior, a smooth range of engines and every version is well equipped.
BMW 3 Series
Our defending champion in this class is brilliant to drive, is available with a great range of engines and comes with a class-leading infotainment system. It really is the complete package.
The Mondeo proves that you don’t need to have a German badge on your bonnet to be a contender in this class. It offers tidy handling and a spacious interior, and all for a price that’s lower than most other cars here.
If you’re looking for an executive saloon that’s truly involving to drive, then the XE deserves a place on your shortlist. It offers agile and enjoyable handling as well as punchy engines. The equipment list on entry-level versions is generous, too.
Mercedes A-Class Saloon
Mercedes is adding a new saloon to its range, based on the A-Class family hatchback. As such, it’s likely to translate everything we love about the existing family hatchback – including its stunning interior – into a new body.
Mazda 3 Saloon
The new Mazda 3 Saloon is likely to be especially appealing for company car drivers thanks to its SkyActiv-X engine, which promises diesel-like fuel economy from a petrol engine.
Updates in 2019 have only made the Superb more appealing, and it remains the go-to choice if you need to marry executive car comfort with space that dwarfs almost any other saloon.
Toyota’s replacement for the Avensis is both spacious and cheap to run, even if it isn’t as involving to drive as some of its rivals.
Toyota Corolla Saloon
The Corolla is one of our favourite hybrid family hatchbacks, so this saloon version is likely to appeal to eco-conscious company car drivers.
The latest Passat is everything an executive car should be – it’s classy, comfortable and refined, and comes with a frugal range of tax-friendly diesel engines.
Pick-up truck: Ford Ranger
The Ranger rides well for a pick-up truck, while gutsy diesel engines and competitive pricing mean it doesn’t cost a lot to buy and run either. If you’re in the market for a pick-up truck, it’s well worth looking at.
Rivals are better to drive, but the D-Max covers the pick-up basics well. It’s got a strong engine, a good infotainment system and is well equipped.
The Mitsubishi L200 can tow and carry big loads and remains competitively priced. Stick with the low-end versions and it’s easy to recommend.
As well as costing less than its rivals, the Musso impresses with a smart interior and a strong but quiet engine. It has great towing ability, too.
Last year’s winner is still one of the best pick-ups around. It’s good to drive by the standards of this class, has a strong range of engines and is relatively practical.
Luxury car: Audi A8
Bentley Flying Spur
The latest Flying Spur can accelerate up to a top speed of 207mph, yet also has one of the most luxurious interiors you'll find in any new car.
BMW 5 Series
Last year’s champion is still one of our favourite cars. It’s great to drive, with a range of quiet and economical engines, and it’s comfortable and relaxing, too. Add in a spacious and well-appointed interior and a top-notch infotainment system and it’s going to be hard to beat.
BMW 6 Series GT
Imagine a 5 Series in a slightly larger suit and you’ve got the 6 Series GT. It has vast amounts of passenger space, as well as a huge boot and a high-quality interior. Because it’s based on the 5 Series it drives well, too, and it’s a comfortable place to be.
BMW 7 Series
The 7 Series has always been a deeply impressive luxury car and a host of upgrades this year has only strengthened its case. It’s good to drive, comfortable to ride in, full of goodies inside and comes with a brilliant infotainment system.
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