slideshow

The best (and worst) cars in every class revealed

Looking for your next new car? We've gathered together the best cars in every market segment, and listed the ones to avoid...

20 Mar 2018 11:54

The best (and worst) cars in every market revealed

Best cars on sale

If you're searching for your next car, then you want to find the best model, right? That's where What Car? can help. We regularly offer advice on the best models to buy in each car class, as well as letting you know the ones to avoid at all costs. Plus, you can even buy your next car with our New Car Buyer Marketplace.

Whether you're after an SUV, an executive car, a family car or a small hatchback, we can guide you towards the right car at the right price.

Click through to find out our top model in every segment, as well as the one to steer clear of. Remember to click the links for our full review verdicts.

You can also find out more about the What Car? Car of the Year Awards, our annual round-up of the very best new cars on sale.

Best city car

Kia Picanto

Best city car: Kia Picanto 1.25 3

The Kia Picanto rides and handles better than the Skoda Citigo and Suzuki Celerio. It also has a higher-quality interior and provides just as much space and practicality.

Read our full Kia Picanto review

Find a great deal on a Kia Picanto

City car to avoid

Fiat 500

City car to avoid: Fiat 500

The Fiat 500 may have masses of retro charm, but there are bigger, more practical and better driving alternatives available for the same money.

Read our full Fiat 500 review

Find a great deal on a Fiat 500

Best small car

Seat Ibiza

Best small car: Seat Ibiza 1.0 TSI 95 FR

The Seat Ibiza is, quite simply, everything a small car should be. Handling, practicality and running costs are class-leading, and there are no obvious weaknesses in the Ibiza’s armour.

Read our full Seat Ibiza review

Find a great deal on a Seat Ibiza

Small car to avoid

Mitsubishi Mirage

Small car to avoid: Mitsubishi Mirage

If you want refinement in your small car you can do better than the Mirage – its engine emits a loud thrum at higher revs and sounds busy at motorway speeds. It's roomy inside, but you may struggle to find a comfortable driving position because there's no height adjustment on the seat and no reach adjustment on the steering wheel.

Read our full Mitsubishi Mirage review

Find a great deal on a Mitsubishi Mirage

Best family car

Skoda Octavia

Best family car: Skoda Octavia 1.5 TSI 150 SE L

It's the family car that offers more for less. Not only is the Octavia priced competitively against key rivals, such as Seat Leon, it also comes close to matching the more expensive Audi A3 for build quality.

Read our full Skoda Octavia review

Find a great deal on a Skoda Octavia

Family car to avoid

DS 4

Family car to avoid: DS 4

Once a Citroen, the DS 4 is now part of the DS Automobiles range that chases Audi, BMW and other premium brands. However, it lacks the quality feel of those premium rivals and has a suspension that is far too stiff.

Read our full DS 4 review

Find a great deal on a DS 4

Best small SUV

Seat Arona 1.0 TSI 95 SE Technology

Best small SUV: Seat Arona 1.0 TSI 95 SE Technology

The Arona’s interior isn’t as classy as the Audi Q2’s, but it’s still a comfortable and nicely designed place to be, with all the equipment you really need. The cherry on top is a range of personalisation options that allow you to make your Arona feel special.

Read our full Seat Arona review

Find a great deal on a Seat Arona

Small SUV to avoid

Jeep Renegade

Small SUV to avoid: Jeep Renegade

The Jeep Renegade offers distinctive styling and decent practicality, but most rivals make it feel agricultural. It has an unsettled ride, awful refinement and it's relatively expensive to buy.

Read our full Jeep Renegade review

Find a great deal on a Jeep Renegade

Best family SUV

Volvo XC40

Best family SUV: Volvo XC40 D4 R Design

The XC40 represents the firm’s most well-rounded model yet – it takes comfort, quality and safety to another level, all at a reasonable price. In short, the XC40 is a staggeringly good SUV for any family.

Read our full Volvo XC40 review

Find a great deal on a Volvo XC40

Family SUV to avoid

Vauxhall Crossland X

Family SUV to avoid: Vauxhall Crossland X

The Vauxhall Crossland X is very spacious for such a small SUV and it comes well equipped. However, most of its rivals are better to drive.

Read our full Vauxhall Crossland X review

Find a great deal on a Vauxhall Crossland X

Best large SUV

Peugeot 5008

Best large SUV: Peugeot 5008 1.2 Puretech 130 Allure

Very few cars at this price offer such premium feel and style as the 5008. It also comes with a lot of equipment, including a configurable digital instrument display, which until now tended to be the preserve of premium cars.

Read our full Peugeot 5008 review

Find a great deal on a Peugeot 5008

Large SUV to avoid

Nissan X-Trail

Large SUV to avoid: Nissan X-Trail

The Nissan X-Trail is okay, but there are rivals with better handling, comfort, interior space and infotainment systems for similar or less money.

Read our full Nissan X-Trail review

Find a great deal on a Nissan X-Trail

Best luxury SUV

Audi Q7

Best luxury SUV: Audi Q7 3.0 TDI quattro 272 S Line

When Bentley set out to produce the greatest money-no-object SUV, it decided the Q7 would be the ideal starting point. But don’t go thinking that the Bentayga is the superior machine – it may have a more upmarket interior and a more powerful engine, but the Q7 has a significantly better ride, a far superior infotainment system and an extra pair of seats. Oh, and it’s £70,000 cheaper.

Read our full Audi Q7 review

Find a great deal on an Audi Q7

Luxury SUV to avoid

Maserati Levante

Luxury SUV to avoid: Maserati Levante

The Maserati Levante is spacious and well equipped, but with a bumpy ride, stodgy handling and a noisy diesel engine, it doesn’t live up to the badge’s promise.

Read our full Maserati Levante

Find a great deal on a Maserati Levante

Best MPV

Volkswagen Touran

Best MPV: Volkswagen Touran 1.6 TDI 115 SE

With the surge in popularity of SUVs, people aren’t flocking to MPVs for their people-carrying needs like they used to, but the Touran shows there’s still life left in the class. It has the highest-quality interior, the best infotainment and the comfiest ride. Short urban trips, family holidays, even European adventures… the Touran will do them all with ease.

Read our full Volkswagen Touran

Find a great deal on a Volkswagen Touran

MPV to avoid

Renault Grand Scenic

MPV to avoid: Renault Grand Scenic

The Renault Grand Scenic is good-looking and well equipped, but it's not as comfortable or spacious as some rivals and the infotainment system is fiddly to operate.

Read our full Renault Grand Scenic

Find a great deal on a Renault Grand Scenic

Best estate car

Skoda Superb estate

Best estate: Skoda Superb Estate 2.0 TDI 150 SE Technology

The Skoda Superb Estate makes a brilliant family car, because it's comfortable, exceptionally plush inside, well priced and incredibly spacious.

Read our full Skoda Superb Estate

Find a great deal on a Skoda Superb Estate

Estate car to avoid

Subaru Levorg

Estate car to avoid: Subaru Levorg

The Subaru Levorg is reliable and good off road, but it’s expensive to buy and run, making it hard to recommend over more practical rivals.

Read our full Subaru Levorg

Find a great deal on a Subaru Levorg

Best hot hatch

Honda Civic Type R

Best hot hatch: Honda Civic Type R GT

The Civic Type R isn’t the most powerful, fastest or cheapest hot hatch. But Honda has focused on the things that matter most, chiefly on-the-limit cornering ability and a real sense of reward for the driver. It truly moves the hot hatch game on.

Read our full Honda Civic Type R

Find a great deal on a Honda Civic Type R

Hot hatch to avoid

Vauxhall Corsa VXR

Hot hatch to avoid: Vauxhall Corsa VXR

The Vauxhall Corsa VXR looks the part, but to drive it’s so far behind the brilliance of its rivals that it’s best avoided. It has a dull, coarse sounding engine, uninspiring handling and disappointing fuel economy and emissions.

Read our full Vauxhall Corsa VXR

Find a great deal on a Vauxhall Corsa VXR

Best convertible car

Mazda MX-5

Best convertible: Mazda MX-5 2.0 SE-L Nav

From its quick, easy roof mechanism to its unfettered, yet effective, petrol engine and smart interior, simplicity is what makes the MX-5 stand out among convertibles. Add in the MX-5’s excellent value, efficiency and everyday usability and you can see why this roadster is easily the best convertible on sale today.

Read our full Mazda MX-5

Find a great deal on a Mazda MX-5

Convertible to avoid

Mercedes-Benz SLC

Convertible to avoid: Mercedes-Benz SLC

The SLC is significantly more expensive than an Audi TT Roadster, and it’s the TT that offers a more rounded driving experience, alongside a higher-quality interior, improved infotainment and more space for your luggage.

Read our full Mercedes-Benz SLC

Find a great deal on a Mercedes-Benz SLC

Best coupe

Audi TT

Best coupe: Audi TT 1.8 TFSI Sport

The Audi TT is brilliant to drive and effortless to live with. With superb handling and strong resale values, it’s one of the best coupes ever made.

Read our full Audi TT

Find a great deal on an Audi TT

Coupe to avoid

Nissan 370Z

Coupe to avoid: Nissan 370Z

On paper the Nissan 370Z offers plenty of performance for a competitive price, but a gruff engine and poor ride corrupt the experience. The interior is pretty low rent for a car costing this much, too.

Read our full Nissan 370Z

Find a great deal on a Nissan 370Z

Best sports car

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Best sports car: Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

While Alfa Romeos of recent years have usually been beautiful, they’ve rarely been as good to drive as you’d expect of a company with such a rich heritage of making fantastic sports cars. But that ends with the Giulia Quadrifoglio. It's comfortable, roomy and well-equipped and has handling to rival the Porsche 718 Cayman and performance to worry the McLaren 540C.

Read our full Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Find a great deal on an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Sports car to avoid

Subaru WRX STI

Sports car to avoid: Subaru WRX STI

With a dated interior and crashy ride the Subaru WRX STI feels at least a decade old. It's also ridiculously expensive to buy and run.

Read our full Subaru WRX STI

Find a great deal on a Subaru WRX STI

Best electric car

Nissan Leaf

Best electric car: Nissan Leaf N-Connecta

The new Leaf isn’t much more expensive than a Renault Zoe, and it’s much better to drive, more spacious inside and considerably safer. Its real-world range of 108 miles in our winter tests might seem a little ordinary, but that’s still more than enough for most commutes. And you’ll get considerably farther between charges in the summer months.

Read our full Nissan Leaf

Find a great deal on a Nissan Leaf

Electric car to avoid

Renault Twizy

Electric car to avoid: Renault Twizy

Renault's tiny electric quadricycle is great fun in the summer, but it's not much fun in bad weather, and the ride is very bumpy and safety provisions are poor.

Read our full Renault Twizy

Find a great deal on a Renault Twizy

Best hybrid car

Hyundai Ioniq

Best hybrid car: Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Premium

The Ioniq combines low running costs and a relatively modest price tag with a reassuringly normal driving experience that’s not unlike that of its conventionally powered hatchback competitors. It’s also more practical and smarter inside than its main rival, the Toyota Prius.

Read our full Hyundai Ioniq

Find a great deal on a Hyundai Ioniq

Hybrid car to avoid

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Hybrid car to avoid: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV makes a tempting company car, but its ride and refinement let it down. The engine is thrashy, the ride is unsettled, and cabin quality is only average.

Read our full Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Find a great deal on a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Best executive car

Audi A4

Best executive car: Audi A4 2.0 TDI 190 Ultra Sport S Tronic

It’s also the little things that distinguish the A4 from its rivals. Each time you turn one of its temperature controls, for example, and feel it click with the precision of a Patek Philippe, or close a door and hear the satisfying thunk it makes, you’re reminded of the attention to detail that’s been bestowed on the A4. It makes the car feel incredibly special, and that makes you feel special, too.

Read our full Audi A4

Find a great deal on an Audi A4

Executive car to avoid

Infiniti Q70

Executive car to avoid: Infiniti Q70

The Q70 isn't a bad car, but it's outclassed by rivals in most areas. It's not agile to drive, the interior isn't classy and it doesn't hold onto its value well.

Read our full Infiniti Q70

Find a great deal on an Infiniti Q70

Best luxury car

BMW 5 Series

Best luxury car: BMW 520d SE

The 5 Series is a car that will appeal to both your rational and emotional sides; you’ll want it as much for the way it averages almost 45mpg in real-world driving as you will for its beautiful interior. There may be flashier luxury cars, but the 5 Series is the best all-rounder.

Read our full BMW 5 Series

Find a great deal on a BMW 5 Series

Luxury car to avoid

Aston Martin Rapide S

Luxury car to avoid: Aston Martin Rapide S

The Aston Martin Rapide S has a brilliant engine, but that isn’t enough to offset the unsettled ride, so-so handling and cramped interior.

Read our full Aston Martin Rapide S

Find a great deal on an Aston Martin Rapide S

Related cars