Every What Car? Car of the Year winner since 1978

Being named What Car? Car of the Year is the highest honour a car can receive – here is every winner in the 41-year history of the award...

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Darren Moss
22 January 2019

Former What Car? Car of the Year winners tile
Former What Car? Car of the Year winners tile

Tonight we'll celebrate the best cars in every market and name our overall Car of the Year for 2019 at the annual What Car? Car of the Year Awards.

The list of previous winners includes models that have gone on to be huge sellers, including the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Golf and Nissan Qashqai.

What Car?'s influence on car buyers is second to none and built on a relationship of trust with our readers that has been earned over more than 40 years.

Ahead of the reveal of the 2019 What Car? Car of the Year, here's every winner since the award's inception in 1978. Have you owned any of them?


1978: Renault 20 TS

Renault 20 TS

Launched in 1975, the Renault 20 was an executive car that eventually went off sale in 1984. It stood out in the inaugural year of our awards thanks to its vast interior, peppy performance and keen pricing. Indeed, the 2.0 TS version of this big saloon cost just £4724 when new, while the impressive list of cars it beat to the title included the Alfa Romeo Alfasud, Lancia Beta and Saab 99 Turbo.


1979: Peugeot 305

Peugeot 305

Sold as a four-door saloon, estate and van, the Peugeot 305 offered big-car luxury and practicality for a very tempting price. In fact, as we wrote at the time, it had "an air of class unusual in 1300cc cars". Minor niggles included confusing controls and whining from the gearbox, but overall this was a very civilised family car. If you wanted more pace, a more powerful 1472 SR model was also available.


1980: Vauxhall Astra

Vauxhall Astra GTE – Rewind Wednesday

The very first Astra gave Vauxhall a significant boost in the family car market. We liked its engaging handling, which made the car almost as fun to drive as the Alfa Romeo Alfasud, although that came at the expense of a comfortable ride and slightly firm steering. Still, there was more space inside than in the rival Volkswagen Golf, plus better rear leg room.

Find a great deal on a new Vauxhall Astra >

Next: 1981-1990 >

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