The UK's quietest cars revealed

If you value peace and quiet, or simply want to listen to your favourite tunes without being disturbed by a noisy car, one of the quiestest cars should suit you. Here's our round-up of the models...

The quietest new cars

The quietest new cars

Some people relish the noise of a throaty exhaust or a rumbly V8 engine, but others want a quieter life. For all those drivers who are in the latter group, we've rounded up the cars with the quietest interiors. 

The cars have been chosen by the experts in our road test team, who drive hundreds of miles in cars to evaluate them for our reviews and group tests. The serenity of some of the choices is dependent on the suspension and tyres they're fitted with, so make sure you stick with what's recommended.  

We've also included some less refined models, which you might want to avoid it interior serenity is a priority. 

Click through our slideshow to find out which are the quietest new cars.  

If any of these models take your fancy you can save money by buying through What Car?'s New Car Buying service, which links you to dealers with discounted prices so there’s no need to haggle. In each case the price you'll pay matches or beats the Target Price set by our team of mystery shoppers, so you can be sure you're getting a great deal.

The quietest new cars

Mini five-door hatchback

10. Mini Cooper hatchback

What Car? Refinement rating: 4 out of 5

The engines in the Cooper and Cooper D are remarkably refined; you feel barely any vibration through the steering wheel or pedals, and a muted off-beat thrum is all you hear unless you really put your foot down. 

Road and wind noise at 70mph are generally more hushed than its rivals, too. And, as long as you stick with 15in or 16in wheels, the Mini rides pretty well; not quite as smoothly as an Ibiza or Fiesta, but better than an A1. 

If you can’t resist the urge to go for bigger wheels, we would advise spending a bit extra on Variable Damper Control, which allows you to make the suspension softer or firmer by pressing a button; the Comfort setting goes some way to mitigate the drawbacks of bigger wheels.

Read the full Mini hatchback review

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The quietest new cars

Ford Focus 2018

9. Ford Focus

What Car? Refinement rating: 4 out of 5

Ford has worked hard to reduce noise and vibration inside the Focus. The three-cylinder petrol engines, especially the 1.5, are pretty smooth and produce only a background thrum under hard acceleration; the 1.5 diesel is grumblier at idle but no worse than its rivals, and quiet at higher speeds.

There’s a bit of wind flutter over the Focus’s door mirrors on the motorway, but the suspension works reasonably quietly and tyre noise is as well suppressed as it is in a Golf; overall, it’s a much more hushed companion than an Octavia.

Avoid the most basic trim levels, and go for a version with multi-link rear suspension and you shouldn't be troubled by thudding when the car rides over potholes.   

Read the full Ford Focus review

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The quietest new cars

Volkswagen eGolf 2018

8. Volkswagen eGolf

What Car? Refinement rating: 4 out of 5

The Golf has traditionally been one of the quietest cars in its class, and that remains the case with the e-Golf, which is one of the most refined electric cars on sale. 

True, there's a bit more wind noise than in the A3 at motorway speeds, but road noise is better supressed, making the Golf a more peaceful cruising companion. It’s also quieter than a Leon or Octavia. Add in the lack of a grumbly diesel or petrol engine – just the near-silent whir of the electric motor - and it’s a very peaceful drive indeed.

Read the full Volkswagen eGolf review

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The quietest new cars

BMW 5 Series saloon 2018

7. BMW 5 Series saloon

What Car? Refinement rating: 5 out of 5

The 5 Series does a brilliant job of keeping wind and road noise away from your ears even at really high speeds. It really is designed very much with German Autobahns in mind, after all. For library-quiet cruising manners you need to avoid the larger 19in wheels and run-flat tyres, though.

Beyond that, the noise level depends on which engine you go for. The quietest and smoothest is conventionally powered 5 Series is the 540i petrol, but the six-cylinder 530d is still remarkably muted and merely takes on a rather pleasant growl when you work it hard, which you rarely need to do. Even the best-selling 520d is quiet and smooth most of the time, if a little coarser than the rival Audi A6’s 2.0-litre diesel engine.

Around town the 530e iPerformance plug-in hybrid is the quietest car in the line-up, as its electric motor endows it with a level of low-speed refinement that conventionally powered rivals can't hope to match. However, once the batteries are depleted, it’s hard to ignore the rather gruff sounding 2.0-litre petrol engine, especially if you put your foot down.

Read the full BMW 5 Series review

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The quietest new cars

Range Rover Velar 2018

6. Range Rover Velar

What Car? Refinement rating: 4 out of 5

The V6 petrol-engined Velar is near-silent at low revs. And as the engine speed increases, it generates a pleasant V6 howl, albeit one overlaid with a whine from the supercharger. The higher-powered four-cylinder petrol is decently smooth and quiet when you’re driving gently. Push it harder and, while the noise isn’t unpleasant, it is more hot hatch than Range Rover.

If anything, though, the V6 diesel is even more impressive; in our experience, only the Audi Q7 diesel is smoother. The 237bhp four-cylinder diesel can’t quite match the six-cylinder, but it still keeps vibrations to a minimum. There is some clatter when the engine is cold, but once warmed up you won’t really notice the engine a great deal unless you work it really hard. Even so, it's not quite as refined as the 2.0-litre TDI in the Audi Q5.

Read the full Range Rover Velar review

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The quietest new cars

Audi A4 saloon 2017

5. Audi A4 saloon

What Car? Refinement rating: 5 out of 5

Interior refinement is one of the Audi A4’s strongest suits. All of the engines are hushed and transmit barely any vibration through into the cabin, but the 3.0 TDI V6s are most impressive of all; they’re as refined as the engines in many luxury limos costing twice the price and remain whisper quiet, even when worked hard.

The A4 suppresses road and wind noise better than its key rivals, too, and there’s only the occasional muted clonk from the suspension over rough patches of road.

Read the full Audi A4 saloon review

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The quietest new cars

Audi Q5 2018

4. Audi Q5

What Car? Refinement rating: 5 out of 5

The Q5 is a wonderfully relaxing car on long journeys. Wind noise is well stifled at speed, partly helped by the standard acoustic glazing on the windscreen and, on S line models and the range-topping SQ5, the front side windows, too.

Road noise is more noticeable in cars fitted with regular springs and dampers than those with the optional adaptive air suspension, but even with the former it’s far from terrible.

Read the full Audi Q5 review

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The quietest new cars

Mercedes-Benz S-Class 2018

3. Mercedes-Benz S-Class

What Car? Refinement rating: 5 out of 5

The S-Class is as sublime to spend time in on a motorway cruise as any of its rivals - the world outside simply whizzes by with little intrusion from wind and road noise.

Even the S350d diesel is deliciously smooth and quiet whether you're cruising or pressing on. It's so good, in fact, that it almost matches the ultra-refined nature of the S500 petrol, which is high praise indeed.

Even sportier models can be driven reaonably serenly in Comfort mode - only in models like the AMG S63 can the burble of the V8 engine be heard inside the car.

Read the full Mercedes-Benz S-Class review

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The quietest new cars

Audi A8 2018

2. Audi A8

What Car? Refinement rating: 5 out of 5

The A8 can be had with a 3.0 V6 petrol engine or a 3.0-litre diesel. Don't worry that the diesel will be a noisy beast; the 50 TDI is free from vibration and relatively subdued even when pushed hard, so it's the engine we'd rate as the pick of the range.

Not only is the A8 one of the best riding cars you can buy, it's also one of the most refined. Granted, on 20in wheels, the A8 lets in a hint of road noise over coarse surfaces, but wind noise is kept to a minimum at 70mph. If you want even greater separation from the outside world, you can option double-glazed side windows for a reasonable cost.

Read the full Audi A8 review

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The quietest new cars

Audi Q7 2018

1. Audi Q7

What Car? Refinement rating: 5 out of 5

Only when starting from cold do you hear a distant background clatter from the 3.0-litre diesels, but this quickly fades once they're up to temperature. Aside from that, you only really hear the engines under hard acceleration; even then, they’re smoother and more pleasant-sounding than the engines in any of the Q7’s rivals, but particularly the XC90. The Q7 also does a great job of isolating occupants from engine vibration.

The hybrid Q7 e-tron is even more hushed when running in electric mode. When its diesel engine does kick in, it does so in a refined manner, with little vibration reaching you or your passengers. Even the sporty SQ7 model hides the fact it’s a diesel very well, too, emitting a muscular woofle – especially in Dynamic mode.

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The noisiest new cars

BMW X1 2015

BMW X1

What Car? Refinement rating: 3 out of 5

There’s some wind noise on the motorway although not enough to bother you too much. More of a worry is the amount of road roar the X1's tyres generate – the noise is loud enough at 70mph to force you and your passengers to raise your voices.

The diesel engines can sound a bit gruff under hard acceleration, but they’re quiet at a steady cruise and transmit little vibration through the controls.

Read the full BMW X1 review

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The noisiest new cars

Mazda MX-5 2018

Mazda MX5 convertible

What Car? Refinement rating: 3 out of 5

Noise levels with the roof up are acceptable for a roadster, but you do need to accept a fair bit of wind and tyre noise at motorway speeds. The good thing is that it’s not too blustery with the roof down, even at higher speeds, so you won’t be afraid to go without the roof even if it's chilly outside.

You get some vibrations through the pedals and steering wheel when the engines are at very low or very high revs, or over coarse surfaces, but it’s a background issue rather than a constant spoiler.

Read the full Mazda MX-5 convertible review

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