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
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
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.
BMW 4 Series
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.
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.
Citroën C4 / e-C4
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.
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
Ford Mustang Mach E
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.
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.
Land Rover Defender
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.
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.
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.
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.
The latest Yaris is one of the most economical small hatchbacks around, and comes with a good amount of luxury and safety kit.
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.
Peugeot 2008 / e-2008
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.
The Ghost is a luxury car in every sense, with a price tag to match its opulent interior and quietly hushed performance.
The Skoda Octavia consistently ranks among our favourite family hatchbacks, and the latest version impressed us with its plush ride and huge boot.
The Suzuki Swace is based on the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports, so should be every bit as practical and economical as that 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.
An all-new Golf is always big news, and the latest model has impressed with its tidy handling and strong yet frugal engines.
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.
Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge
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.
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