2021 What Car? Car of the Year Awards: the shortlist

Later this month we'll name the best new cars on sale in the UK, and crown one overall champion as our Car of the Year for 2021. These are the cars in contention for our top accolade...

2021 What Car? Car of the Year Awards: The Shortlist

What Car? Car of the Year 2021 shortlist

The cars in contention to take home the overall What Car? Car of the Year Award for 2021 have been revealed.

The winner will be announced on 14 January, as the culmination of a week-long, entirely digital event, held in association with ALA Insurance.

In addition to the overall Car of the Year, What Car? will name winners in 26 categories, ranging from small SUVs to pick-up trucks.

What Car? is renowned for its thoroughness when assessing new cars, with all models driven back to back with their rivals on road and track, and practicality, reliability and running costs all factored into its final verdicts.

The What Car? Awards have been running since 1978, but have been reimagined as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, with a greater emphasis than ever on reaching a large, highly engaged consumer audience and ensuring that they are the most influential car-buying awards in the calendar.

To qualify for the overall Car of the Year Award, a car has to have been launched in the previous 12 months, and it needs to be available to order by the time of the ceremony.

Click through this slideshow for more information about each car, as well as links to our full written reviews of each model, and to What Car? New Car Buying, where we guarantee to find you a great deal. Cars are presented in alphabetical order.

Aston Martin DBX

Aston Martin DBX 2020 front cornering

Save money on a new Aston Martin DBX with What Car? >>

The DBX is the first SUV that Aston Martin has ever made, and it's a corker, with a strong and characterful engine, playful handling and a luxurious interior.

Read our full Aston Martin DBX review >>

Audi A3

Audi A3 40 TFSIe hero

Save money on a new Audi A3 with What Car? >>

The latest Audi A3 offers sharp handling, an excellent driving position and, in 35 TFSI form, a punchy engine too. It's a well-rounded family hatchback which should hold onto its value very well.

Read our full Audi A3 review >>

BMW 4 Series

BMW 4 Series Coupé 2021 front tracking

Save money on a new BMW 4 Series with What Car? >>

Not only is the latest 4 Series a lot better to drive than most of its rivals, but it also has more room on its rear seats than you might imagine and has a very pleasant interior.

Read our full BMW 4 Series review >>


BMW iX3 2021 front

BMW's first fully electric SUV has an impressive range of up to 285 miles between charges, which is more than most rivals, as well as a great infotainment system and keen pricing.

Read our full BMW iX3 review >>


BMW X6 2021 RHD front left cornering

Save money on a new BMW X6 with What Car? >>

The original BMW X6 spawned this class, and the latest version remains one of the best options, with a plush interior, impressive handling and lots of equipment.

Read our full BMW X6 review >>

Citroën C4 / e-C4

Citroën e-C4 Front cornering

Save money on a new Citroën C4 with What Car? >>

The new C4 has morphed from a family car into an SUV, and is available with a range of petrol and diesel engines as well as in fully electric form.

Read our full Citroën C4 review >>

Cupra Formentor

Cupra Formentor 2020 front tracking

Save money on a new Cupra Formentor with What Car? >>

The Formentor has a smart interior and offers grippy handling, but is also decently practical. It's fast, sure, but can also be used for family duties.

Read our full Cupra Formentor review >>

Dacia Sandero

Dacia Sandero 2021 front

Due to go on sale in the UK in this Spring, the new Sandero retains its headline-grabbing price tag, but brings a host of extra safety kit as well as an interior upgrade.

Find out more about the new Dacia Sandero >>

Fiat 500 / 500 Cabriolet

Fiat 500 electric front - Italian plates

Save money on a new Fiat 500 with What Car? >>

Fiat's iconic city car has gone fully electric, with an official range of 199 miles between charges and nippy performance. There's also a cabriolet version with a fabric roof.

Read our full Fiat 500 review >>

Ford Kuga

Ford Kuga 2020 RHD front left tracking

Save money on a new Ford Kuga with What Car? >>

The latest Kuga impresses with competitive pricing, but it's especially compelling in plug-in hybrid form, where it has a long electric-only range and low company car tax.

Read our full Ford Kuga review >>

Ford Mustang Mach E

Ford Mustang Mach-E 2020 front

Save money on a new Ford Mustang Mach E with What Car? >>

Ford has brought the Mustang nameplate to an SUV for the first time, and it's fully electric. In fact, the Mach-E has the longest range of any electric SUV, with up to 370 miles between charges possible.

Read our full Ford Mustang Mach E review >>

Honda Jazz

Honda Jazz 2021 front tracking

Save money on a new Honda Jazz with What Car? >>

The Jazz is certainly the small car to beat when it comes to practicality, but impresses with lots of standard kit and superb visibility too.

Read our full Honda Jazz review >>

Hyundai i20

Hyundai i20 2020 front

Save money on a new Hyundai i20 with What Car? >>

The Hyundai i20 is a solid all-rounder, but we were especially impressed by its roomy rear seats and peppy yet efficient petrol engine.

Read our full Hyundai i20 review >>

Hyundai Tucson

Hyundai Tucson 2021 front

Save money on a new Hyundai Tucson with What Car? >>

The latest Tucson is pleasantly frugal, yet its hybrid system still provides plenty enough performance. Add to that a well-made interior and space aplenty for passengers and luggage, and it's a compelling choice.

Read our full Hyundai Tucson review >>

Kia Sorento

2021 Kia Sorento front

Save money on a new Kia Sorento with What Car? >>

The new Kia Sorento is supremely spacious inside, offering space for seven adults as well as a massive boot. Add in lots of kit and sensible running costs from the hybrid version, and it's easy to recommend.

Read our full Kia Sorento review >>

Land Rover Defender

Land Rover Defender 110 front

Save money on a new Land Rover Defender with What Car? >>

Available in both 110 and 90 forms, the latest Defender is excellent off road, has a pleasant interior and will hold onto its value very well.

Read our full Land Rover Defender review >>

Mercedes-Benz GLA

2021 Mercedes GLA front

Save money on a new Mercedes GLA with What Car? >>

While we didn't rate the original GLA very highly, this latest version is a lot better, with a well controlled ride and an interior which feels truly special. It comes with lots of luxury and safety kit, too.

Read our full Mercedes GLA review >>

Mercedes-Benz GLB

Mercedes GLB 2021 RHD

Save money on a new Mercedes GLB with What Car? >>

If you're looking for a smaller SUV which can seat seven, then the GLB is well worth looking at. As well as being practical, it also has a plush interior and a punchy yet frugal range of engines.

Read our full Mercedes GLB review >>

Polestar 2

Polestar 2 front

Save money on a new Polestar 2 with What Car? >>

Thrillingly quick, with an exquisite interior and decent range, the Polestar 2 is good to drive and is also reasonably practical.

Read our full Polestar 2 review >>

Porsche Taycan

PERFORMANCE CAR: Porsche Taycan 4S

Save money on a new Porsche Taycan with What Car? >>

If you want your electric car to be exciting too, then the Porsche Taycan should be on your shortlist. It offers staggering performance, is stunningly capable through corners and has a wonderful interior to boot.

Read our full Porsche Taycan review >>

Toyota Yaris

Toyota Yaris 2021 front

Save money on a new Toyota Yaris with What Car? >>

The latest Yaris is one of the most economical small hatchbacks around, and comes with a good amount of luxury and safety kit.

Read our full Toyota Yaris review >>

Peugeot e-208

Peugeot e-208 front cornering

Save money on a new Peugeot e-208 with What Car? >>

The Peugeot e-208 can officially carry you up to 217 miles between charges, plus it has a classy interior and comes loaded with kit.

Read our full Peugeot e-208 review >>

Peugeot 2008 / e-2008

Peugeot e-2008 front 2021

Save money on a new Peugeot 2008 with What Car? >>

There's little arguing that both the regular Peugeot 2008 and the fully electric e-2008 will make you stand out from the crowd on the school run, but there's more going for Peugeot's smallest SUV than just distinctive styling. We like its generous interior space, its quiet driving manners and its attractive interior.

Read our full Peugeot e-2008 review >>

Rolls-Royce Ghost

2020 Rolls-Royce Ghost front

The Ghost is a luxury car in every sense, with a price tag to match its opulent interior and quietly hushed performance.

Seat Leon

Seat Leon 2020 front

Save money on a new Seat Leon with What Car? >>

The latest Leon is a fantastic family hatchback, being both great to drive and spacious for passengers and their luggage. It's well equipped, too.

Read our full Seat Leon review >>

Skoda Octavia

Skoda Octavia hatchback 2020 front left tracking

Save money on a new Skoda Octavia with What Car? >>

The Skoda Octavia consistently ranks among our favourite family hatchbacks, and the latest version impressed us with its plush ride and huge boot.

Read our full Skoda Octavia review >>

Suzuki Swace

Suzuki Swace front

The Suzuki Swace is based on the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports, so should be every bit as practical and economical as that car.

Vauxhall Corsa-e

Vauxhall Corsa-e

Save money on a new Vauxhall Corsa-e with What Car? >>

This all-electric version of the big-selling Vauxhall Corsa has an official range of up to 209 miles, and is pleasant to drive.

Read our full Vauxhall Corsa-e review >>

Volkswagen Golf

2020 Volkswagen Golf front action

Save money on a new Volkswagen Golf with What Car? >>

An all-new Golf is always big news, and the latest model has impressed with its tidy handling and strong yet frugal engines.

Read our full Volkswagen Golf review >>

Volkswagen ID.3

Volkswagen ID.3 front cornering

Save money on a new Volkswagen ID.3 with What Car? >>

The ID.3 is an electric family car which can travel for up to 261 miles between charges, but as well as its good electric range, it offers sprightly performance and a decent ride and nippy handling.

Read our full Volkswagen ID.3 review >>

Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge

Volvo XC40 Recharge P8 front

This fully electric version of the Volvo XC40 family SUV can travel for up to 260 miles between charges, and impresses with a high-quality interior and rapid performance.

Read our full Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge review >>

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