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...
The best (and worst) cars in every market revealed
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
City car to avoid
Best small car
Small car to avoid
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.
Best family car
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.
Family car to avoid
Best small SUV
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.
Small SUV to avoid
Best family SUV
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.
Family SUV to avoid
Best large SUV
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.
Large SUV to avoid
Best luxury SUV
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.
Luxury SUV to avoid
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.
MPV to avoid
Best estate car
Estate car to avoid
Best hot hatch
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.
Hot hatch to avoid
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.
Best convertible car
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.
Convertible to avoid
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.
Coupe to avoid
Best sports car
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.
Sports car to avoid
Best electric car
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.
Electric car to avoid
Best hybrid car
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.
Hybrid car to avoid
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.
Best executive car
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.
Executive car to avoid
Best luxury car
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.