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It's not every day that we give out a five-star road test rating. Any car which acheives this ranking is judged to be outstanding in almost every area.
To gain a five-star rating, a car must beat its rivals at the things which matter most (for example, performance and handling for a sports car, or practicality and comfort in an SUV) without disappointing in less crucial areas.
As such, any car which has a five-star rating is often at the very top of its class – and if you're looking at a new car, our five-star models should be at the very top of any shortlist. You'll see plenty of What Car? Car of the Year Award winners in here, too.
In this story, we'll take you through every car that's been awarded five stars and is still on sale – and we'll show you how you can save money when buying one thanks to What Car? New Car Buying. Let's get started.
*All prices correct at the time of writing
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Price from £9500
What Car? New Car Buying price from £8765
The latest Picanto has leapt ahead of city car rivals including the Hyundai i10, Skoda Citigo and Volkswagen Up thanks to its spacious interior, excellent infotainment system on upper trim levels and tidy handling.
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Price from £14,255
What Car? New Car Buying price from £11,258
The Ibiza is one of the best small cars on the market, and the current holder of our Small Car of the Year Award. It's great to drive, spacious inside and has a strong range of engines – of which the 1.0-litre petrol TSI 95 is our recommended choice.
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Price from £13,715
What Car? New Car Buying price from £11,945
The Fiesta has long been the benchmark small car for driving fun and this latest version continues that tradition. However, it also offers a classier interior than its predecessor and swaps that car's fiddly, button-heavy infotainment system for a more user-friendly touchscreen.
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Price from £13,860
What Car? New Car Buying price from £13,207
The Polo is one of the best small cars you can buy right now, offering a superb interior that's surprisingly spacious, a peppy range of engines and impressive refinement.
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Price from £16,750
What Car? New Car Buying price from £14,129
Seat's Nissan Juke and Suzuki Vitara rival is our favourite small SUV. It's roomier than most other cars in this class, offers tidy handling, and will hold on to its value well too.
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Price from £17,700
What Car? New Car Buying price from £15,263
The Octavia is quite simply the best family hatchback you can buy. There are more stylish options, but if your priorities are a comfortable ride, loads of space and generous standard equipment for a very affordable price, then little gets close.
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Price from £18,675
What Car? New Car Buying price from £15,457
The Ateca was Seat's first attempt at cracking the SUV market, and it was an excellent one. With a deceptively spacious and comfortable interior, class-leading handling and keen pricing, it remains one of the best family SUVs on the market.
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Price from £19,295
What Car? New Car Buying price from £17,268
Ask 10 people to name a family car and chances are most of them will mention the Volkswagen Golf. It's consistently among the most popular new cars sold in the UK, and with good reason: with such a wide range of engines and versions on offer – from frugal petrols through to diesels and even electric versions – there's a model to suit everyone. It's also brilliant to drive and competitively priced.
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Price from £18,995
What Car? New Car Buying price from £17,314
If you're looking for a sports car that won't cost you a fortune to buy and run, then there's no better choice than the MX-5. It combines a roof that's quick and easy to fold with hugely entertaining handling and tempting pricing, and even averages almost 50mpg in real-world conditions.
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Honda Civic Type R
Price from £18,815
What Car? New Car Buying price from £17,808
Honda has a long history with the Type R badge, but this latest hot Civic is a revelation. Very few rivals can match either its pace or its fun driving style, and we like the performance-oriented touches made to its interior too.
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Ford Fiesta ST
Price from £19,295
What Car? New Car Buying price from £18,582
This go-faster version of the Ford Fiesta is powered by a turbocharged three-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine producing a heady 197bhp. It's outrageous fun to drive quickly, but what's truly impressive is that it's still every bit as practical as the regular car. Indeed, you'll struggle to find as much driving pleasure for so little money.
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Price from £23,400
What Car? New Car Buying price from £18,889
The Touran is our reigning champion in the MPV market, because it's spacious, good to drive and feels very well built. It does carry a premium price tag, but hefty discounts ensure this isn't a problem.
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Price from £22,120
What Car? New Car Buying price from £19,162
The Skoda Superb is comfortable, well equipped, great value for money and one of the roomiest cars in its class. It's a car that truly lives up to its name, then, and we like Skoda's extra touches, for example the umbrellas hidden inside each door.
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Price from £20,880
What Car? New Car Buying price from £19,676
This replacement for the Yeti combines superb practicality with a comfortable ride, plus it's available with luxurious features such as virtual instruments and gesture control. Indeed, the Karoq is so good that it's our 2018 Family SUV of the Year.
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Skoda Superb Estate
Price from £23,440
What Car? New Car Buying price from £20,322
Having extolled the virtues of the regular Skoda Superb already, you'd be safe in thinking that this more spacious version is, if anything, even better. Well, you're absolutely right. In increasing the amount of storage space offered in the Superb, Skoda has made an already good car great.
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Price from £27,290
What Car? New Car Buying price from £21,973
If you're looking for a car to make you consider electric motoring, then the Nissan Leaf is surely it. It's good to drive, offers punchy performance and a decent driving range too. Add in a large boot and a decent array of standard equipment, and it's easy to see why the Leaf is our current Electric Car of the Year.
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Price from £24,095
What Car? New Car Buying price from £22,193
On the face of it, the fact that Mazda's largest SUV doesn't offer the option of seven seats puts it at a disadvantage. However, if you don't need to transport more than five people, it's one of the very best cars of its kind.
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Price from £27,815
What Car? New Car Buying price from £24,781
Audi's executive saloon is a former What Car? Car of the Year. You can choose from a strong range of petrol and diesel engines, but our favourite 3.0-litre diesel option combines punchy performance with good fuel economy. The A4's interior is at the top of this class for quality, too.
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Price from £27,270
What Car? New Car Buying price from £25,250
The old 5008 was a fairly frumpy MPV, but now it's been reinvented as a tech-heavy large SUV that's both stylish and practical. We like its comfortable ride, its flexible seating and its low CO2 emissions.
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Price from £27,610
What Car? New Car Buying price from £26,476
Volvo's smallest SUV is brimming with both style and kit, while also being spacious inside and one of the very best SUVs to drive. It's so good, in fact, that we named it as our Car of the Year for 2018.
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Price from £28,855
What Car? New Car Buying price from £26,548
The latest TT is fantastic to drive and, as long as you except that the rear seats are really just for coats and bags, surprisingly easy to live with. The controls are light yet precise, it has a comfortable ride and the interior is one of the classiest around.
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Audi A3 Cabriolet
Price from £29,685
What Car? New Car Buying price from £27,239
This open-top version of the regular Audi A3 family hatchback is great to drive and fantastic to sit in, and comes with one of the best interiors you're likely to find in this class. It will also hold on to its value well.
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Audi TT Roadster
Price from £30,605
What Car? New Car Buying price from £28,154
The TT Roadster is fantastic to drive and, as long as you don’t need more than two seats, surprisingly easy to live with. The controls are light yet precise, its fully electric roof can be raised or lowered quickly and – just like the TT Coupé – the interior is one of the classiest around.
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BMW 5 Series
Price from £36,715
What Car? New Car Buying price from £32,786
The 5 Series won our overall Car of the Year Award in 2017, and remains the best luxury car you can buy. Its interior quality puts rivals which cost twice as much to shame, plus it's great to drive, and incredibly quiet and comfortable.
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Ford Focus RS
Price from £32,795
What Car? New Car Buying price from £32,795
The Focus RS transcends the term of hot hatchback – it's what you might call a megahatch. Under the bonnet is a 2.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine developing 345bhp, and which sends its power to all four wheels. As you'd expect, the Focus RS feels very fast indeed, but what sealed the deal on it being a five-star car was its rewarding handling and slow depreciation.
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Volkswagen Passat GTE
Price from £39,040
What Car? New Car Buying price from £33,409
The GTE is a plug-in hybrid version of the Volkswagen Passat and Passat Estate. It's powered by a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine, working in conjunction with an electric motor – so you can drive for up to 31 miles on electric power alone. Low emissions make it an excellent choice for company car drivers.
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BMW 5 Series Touring
Price from £39,005
What Car? New Car Buying price from £34,828
The BMW 5 Series Touring is based on our Car of the Year for 2017, the 5 Series saloon. We've been impressed by its classy interior, its massive storage space and its strong range of engines.
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Price from £39,120
What Car? New Car Buying price from £36,488
The X3 is a popular sight on UK roads, and with good reason: it's superb to drive, has a high-quality interior and a class-leading infotainment system.
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Price from £40,175
What Car? New Car Buying price from £37,057
Looking for a plush large SUV? Surely the Audi Q5 is already on your shortlist. And so it should be, because it's superb to drive and relatively cheap to run, yet also comes with one of the best interiors you'll find in any new car.
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Porsche 718 Cayman
Price from £43,467
What Car? New Car Buying price from £43,467
Porsche fans may have been split when the Cayman adopted a turbocharged petrol engine, but they needn't have worried. This is still one of the most fun sports cars you can drive, with agile handling and raucous power. It has a classy interior, too.
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Land Rover Discovery
Price from £47,405
What Car? New Car Buying price from £44,759
The Discovery is one of the finest large SUVs around right now. It's huge inside, both for your passengers and their luggage, is brimming with technology, has a comfortable interior and is just as capable off-road as on it.
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Porsche 718 Boxster
Price from £45,328
What Car? New Car Buying price from £45,328
Like its Cayman sibling, the Porsche Boxster has long been a symbol of how to own an entertaining and prestigous sports car without breaking the bank. The 718 is, in fact, the cheapest convertible Porsche makes, and it's hugely entertaining to drive quickly.
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Price from £49,805
What Car? New Car Buying price from £47,867
Given that there's no fully fledged 'M' version of BMW's 1 Series, the M2 is the entry-point into the German manufacturer's high performance sub-brand. As you'd expect, the M2 is fast – its power comes from a 3.0-litre straight six petrol engine producing 365bhp, remember – but it's also quite practical for a sports car.
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Price from £51,525
What Car? New Car Buying price from £48,025
Audi's luxury SUV is the best car of its kind. It's relaxing to drive, comfortable to sit in and pleasantly efficient to run, while the interior is plush enough to shame most luxury saloons. As if all that weren't enough, the Q7 is extremely practical, offering plenty of space for families and their luggage.
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Price from £59,905
What Car? New Car Buying price from £54,511
Counting the Mercedes-AMG C63 and Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio among its closest rivals, the BMW M3 is the achetypal sports saloon. It's twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre petrol engine sends its power to the rear wheels, leading to some incredibly fun moments. It's an aggressive car, sure, but remains comfortable and elegant inside.
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Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
Price from £61,235
What Car? New Car Buying price from £60,874
The Giulia Quadrifoglio is a classic sports saloon – it has a big engine up the front (a 2.9-litre V6 petrol in this case) – offers sweet handling and is capable of crossing whole countries in a flash. Better than that, though, it's also fairly practical, being based on the standard Alfa Romeo Giulia.
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Price from £69,415
What Car? New Car Buying price from £63,276
The A8’s blend of performance, comfort and refinement make it the most relaxing luxury limo you can buy. It's the car that finally knocked the Mercedes S-Class off its perch.
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Mercedes S-Class saloon
Price from £81,395
What Car? New Car Buying price from £69,491
Picture a luxury limousine and you'll probably be thinking of Mercedes' largest saloon, the S-Class. It's been around for a long time, but is still among the most comfortable and luxurious ways to travel. We like its composed handling and great refinement.
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Price from £74,385
What Car? New Car Buying price from £69,494
Like the look of Audi's Q7 luxury SUV but also want hot-hatch levels of performance? Welcome to the SQ7. Power is supplied by a 4.0-litre V8 diesel engine producing 429bhp, and there's not one turbocharger but two to feed it air. Despite its heady speed, though, this Q7 remains elegant and comfortable inside and very practical too.
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Price from £78,776
What Car? New Car Buying price from £78,776
The 911 badge has been around for a very long time, and yet Porsche's most iconic sports car remains one of the very best on sale. It's fantastic to drive, usable every day and has a beautifully furnished interior.
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Porsche 911 Cabriolet
Price from £88,027
What Car? New Car Buying price from £88,027
If you want 911-style performance but also fancy the wind in your hair, then the 911 Cabriolet should be your next port of call. Like its coupé sibling, it offers superb handling and a smart interior, and it's also surprisingly practical for a performance convertible.
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Mercedes S-Class Coupé
Price from £103,745
What Car? New Car Buying price from £94,679
How do you make the already excellent Mercedes S-Class saloon even better? Simple, you take away two of its doors and turn it into a coupé. This S-Class is every bit as luxurious and comfortable as its limousine sibling, but is even more stunning to look at.
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Mercedes S-Class Cabriolet
Price from £115,950
What Car? New Car Buying price from £103,530
This is the third version of Mercedes' S-Class to grace this list, which gives you an idea of just how good it was to start off with. If neither the saloon nor the coupé versions float your boat, then this convertible combines luxury and comfort with wind-in-your-hair thrills.
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Price from £112,520
What Car? New Car Buying price from £110,874
If you're looking for a high-end sports car that's also usable every day, then Audi's most expensive model could be the perfect place to start. It's fast and fun, yes, but also has a high-quality interior and good refinement when needed. It's one of the most well rounded sports cars on sale today.
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Audi R8 Spyder
Price from £121,210
What Car? New Car Buying price from £119,433
This convertible version of the R8 Coupé uses the same naturally aspirated V10 petrol engine as the Lamborghini Huracan, and unlike some high-end convertibles it feels absolutely rigid through bends. It's got the same quality interior as its fixed-roof sibling, too.
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Price from £128,125
What Car? New Car Buying price from £128,125
"Surprisingly usable, shockingly rapid and great fun to drive, even at everyday speeds" – with a road test verdict like that, need we say more?
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Price from £148,275
What Car? New Car Buying price from £147,965
With a 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol engine, a hunkered-down driving position and stylish looks, McLaren has followed the supercar recipe to the letter in creating the 570S. And the result is outstanding: it's incredibly fast, entertaining at any speed and has a surprisingly large boot.
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Price from £184,914
What Car? New Car Buying price from £184,914
It's perhaps only fitting that this list should end with a Ferrari, but what an example of the breed it is. The 488 GTB is the successor to the 458 Italia, and offers blistering pace thanks to its V8 petrol engine. It's also surprisingly easy to live with.
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Our Used Car of the Year award winners
So those are all of What Car?'s five-star new cars, and we think there's something on that list to fit every need and budget. However, if you can't stretch to one of these models, then how about looking at the used market instead? Click the link below to see all of the winners of our annual Used Car of the Year awards.