What Car? Car of the Year Awards 2018 – the long list

Later this month we'll announce the very best new cars on sale. These are the contenders...

What Car? Car of the Year Awards 2018 – the long list

What Car? Car of the Year contenders

What Car? has unveiled the full list of nominees for its highly anticipated Car of the Year Awards (in association with Warranty Direct) which is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2018.

The first ever What Car? Car of the Year Awards took place in 1978, when the Renault 20 TS was crowned the overall winner and, throughout the years, the winners have gone on to become some of the most popular cars on the market.

The long list, comprising 114 vehicles, represents all of the cars that have been nominated in one of the awards’ 17 categories; the winners of each category will also then be in the frame for the overall Car of the Year award.

Making this year’s event even more competitive is the fact that two new categories have been introduced – hybrid and family SUV. Along with electric cars, hybrids are gaining momentum in the market, fuelled by the introduction of the Government’s low-emission vehicle incentives, while the decision to split the small SUV category into small SUV and family SUV reflects the explosion in the popularity of these high-riding models over the past decade. 

So what's in contention for each of the categories? Start this slideshow to find out.

Hyundai i10

Hyundai i10

City cars

Don't let their size fool you – these cars need to be spacious enough to carry a couple of tall adults and their luggage, powerful enough to nip in and out of urban traffic and able to park in the tightest of spaces. And they need to be able to handle longer motorway trips, too.

The Hyundai i10 has been one of our favourite city cars for a while now and its combination of good interior space, low running costs and long warranty ensures it's still a strong contender. It's not as fun to drive as a Volkswagen Up, though.

Read our full Hyundai i10 review >

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Kia Picanto

Kia Picanto

Smart inside and fairly practical, the latest Picanto is more of a match for its premium rivals than ever before. Kia's seven-year warranty sweetens the deal, as does this model's nippy handling, which makes it ideal for city streets.

Read our full Kia Picanto review >

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Skoda Citigo

Skoda Citigo

While the Citigo is based on the same underpinnings as the Seat Mii and Volkswagen Up, it is cheaper than either of those cars to buy. Add in its relatively roomy interior and great driving style, and this is a city car that truly deserves a place on any shortlist.

Read our full Skoda Citigo review >

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Volkswagen Up

Volkswagen Up

Yes, the Volkswagen Up costs more to buy than both of its Seat and Skoda stablemates, but it has the nicest interior of the three and is also comfortable on longer motorway trips. The Up's economical range of three-cylinder petrol engines will keep running costs to a minimum, too.

Read our full Volkswagen Up review >

Find a great Volkswagen Up deal v

Ford Fiesta

Ford Fiesta

Small cars

These are some of the top-selling cars in the country, popular with working people, couples and even young families. They need to be big on space, offer low running costs and also be decent to drive.

The Ford Fiesta is consistently one of the best-selling new cars in the UK, so it's pleasing to note that it's also among the best cars in this class to drive. It's well equipped and even entry-level models come with plenty of safety kit including automatic emergency braking.

Read our full Ford Fiesta review >

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Kia Rio

Kia Rio

We like the Rio's refined range of petrol engines and the 1.0-litre turbocharged option we recommend is flexible enough to take on long motorway journeys as well as city commutes. The Rio is also well equipped, with even entry-level versions offering air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity and electric windows.

Read our full Kia Rio review >

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Seat Ibiza

Seat Ibiza

Few cars have impressed us as much in recent times as the Ibiza. It's based on the same underpinnings as the Volkswagen Polo and offers a spacious yet classy interior and a remarkably spacious boot. It's also good to drive, coming close to the Ford Fiesta in terms of handling. A Skoda Fabia is cheaper to buy, though.

Read our full Seat Ibiza review >

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Skoda Fabia

Skoda Fabia

The Fabia has long been a champion in this market, because very few rivals can match its interior space and relaxed, confident driving style. It's not as classy inside as some others in this sector, though, and it doesn't offer the same advanced safety kit that you'll find on stalwards such as the Ford Fiesta. Need more space? The Fabia is also available as an estate.

Read our full Skoda Fabia review >

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Suzuki Swift

Suzuki Swift

The Swift is another stalwart in this class and the latest version is wider than ever to give the car more space inside. We've been impressed with its Boosterjet SHVS mild hybrid engine and the fact that even entry-level SZ3 models come with a DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity and air conditioning. Step up to our recommended SZ5 version, though, and you get luxuries including automatic emergency braking, sat-nav and climate control.

Read our full Suzuki Swift review >

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Volkswagen Polo

Volkswagen Polo

The latest Polo is one of the best small cars around – it's spacious, quiet at speed and irons out many of the lumps and bumps you'll find on UK roads. Interior quality can be a little patchy in places, though, and the diesel versions are noisy.

Read our full Volkswagen Polo review >

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Audi A3 Sportback

Audi A3 Sportback

Family cars

As its name suggests, this class is aimed at families on the move. For those who don't have the need of an MPV or an SUV, these hatchbacks are great all-rounders.

The Audi A3 Sportback is a former What Car? Car of the Year and remains one of the best choices in this market. Its beautifully built interior is spacious enough for most small families, plus the Sportback model offers the added practicality of five doors. You get a good range of punchy petrol engines to choose from and there's even a super-frugal hybrid on offer.

Read our full Audi A3 Sportback review >

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BMW 1 Series

BMW 1 Series

BMW's offering in this market is the 1 Series. It's a plush car inside and out, and has a premium price tag to match, but it's also a solid performer and its low emissions make it a popular choice among company car drivers. BMW's excellent iDrive infotainment and navigation system comes as standard, too.

Read our full BMW 1 Series review >

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Hyundai i30

Hyundai i30

Hyundai's gamble in making its i30 hatchback more upmarket has paid off and it's now a worthy challenger to the likes of the Vauxhall Astra and Ford Focus. We like its generous boot and comfortable ride, although it's still only mediocre to drive.

Read our full Hyundai i30 review >

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Peugeot 308

Peugeot 308

The 308 has a large boot and a smart interior, and we like that most of its engines offer low emissions. There's no need to look beyond the entry-level Active versions, either, as these come with 16in alloy wheels, climate control, rear parking sensors and sat-nav.

Read our full Peugeot 308 review >

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Skoda Octavia

Skoda Octavia

Despite its somewhat unconventional looks, the Octavia is indeed a hatchback and it's one of the most spacious cars in this class. Add in its smart and practical interior and the generous amount of equipment that you get as standard, and the Octavia more than deserves its five-star rating.

Read our full Skoda Octavia review >

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Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen Golf

Ask 10 people to name a family car and chances are most of them will say the 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 models – there's a Golf to suit everyone. It's also brilliant to drive and competitively priced.

Read our full Volkswagen Golf review >

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Audi Q2

Audi Q2

Small SUVs (sponsored by cap hpi)

People have well and truly fallen in love with SUVs, and it's easy to see why. Their raised driving positions make them easy to see out of and park, and their added practicality means you can take the whole family and their luggage without any trouble. Most don't cost much more to run than a conventional family hatchback.

The Audi Q2 is the German manufacturer's smallest SUV but it still offers the kind of interior quality you'd expect to find in one of Audi's larger cars. It's practical, too, and will hold onto its value a lot better than some other cars in this class.

Read our full Audi Q2 review >

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Citroën C3 Aircross

Citroën C3 Aircross

Imagine the Citroën C3 hatchback on stilts and with chunky styling, and that's basically the C3 Aircross. It's striking to look at, pleasant enough to drive and its flexible seats means you can either maximise boot space or leg room for rear passengers. And all that for a price that won't break the bank.

Read our full Citroën C3 Aircross review >

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Hyundai Kona

Hyundai Kona

Hyundai hasn't had a small SUV to compete in this market before, so the Kona is a bit of a gamble for the Korean car maker. Fortunately, we like its smooth petrol engine and you get plenty of kit as standard, including air conditioning, cruise control and automatic emergency braking. The ride could be improved, though.

Read our full Hyundai Kona review >

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Kia Stonic

Kia Stonic

The Stonic is the smallest SUV in Kia's range, sitting underneath the Sportage and Sorento. It's good to look at and decent to drive. Plus, even on entry-level '2' versions, you get 17in alloy wheels, automatic lights and wipers and rear parking sensors.

Read our full Kia Stonic review >

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MG ZS

MG ZS

Even MG is getting in on the small SUV craze and the ZS has the potential to become the company's best-selling model worldwide. It has an ultra-low starting price and a simplified range of engines and trim levels, but our early drive was less than inspiring.

Read our full MG ZS review >

Mini Countryman

Mini Countryman

If you like the funky looks of the Mini hatchback but want the practicality of an SUV, then the Countryman is where logic should lead you. It keeps the hatchback's good looks but adds a dollop of extra practicality and a bigger boot.

Read our full Mini Countryman review >

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Renault Captur

Renault Captur

Renault's funky small SUV faces off against key rivals including the Suzuki Vitara and Vauxhall Crossland X. That's some strong competition, but the Captur makes a good case for itself, thanks to its practical interior and impressive refinement.

Read our full Renault Captur review >

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Seat Arona

Seat Arona

The Arona is one of the newest entries to this class, but we've been impressed with what we've found so far. It is roomier inside than most rivals, good to drive and predicted to hold onto its value very well. The fact that its interior can't quite match up to premium rivals in terms of quality is only a small negative.

Read our full Seat Arona review >

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Suzuki Vitara

Suzuki Vitara

The Vitara has long been one of our favourite cars in this class, as very few rivals can offer the same mix of equipment and quality for such a low price. The Vitara is good to drive and its interior is one of the largest in this class.

Read our full Suzuki Vitara review >

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Vauxhall Crossland X

Vauxhall Crossland X

Not too long ago, Vauxhall had only one SUV contender, the Mokka X. But now there's the larger Crossland X and even larger Grandland X. While neither car has been a class leader so far, we've been impressed by the Crossland X's generous amount of standard equipment and its interior space.

Read our full Vauxhall Crossland X review >

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Volkswagen T-Roc

Volkswagen T-Roc

The T-Roc is Volkswagen's smallest and funkiest SUV, and although it's not as nice inside as some of its more premium rivals, it does at least come well equipped and offer a comfortable ride.

Read our full Volkswagen T-Roc review >

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Jaguar E-Pace

Jaguar E-Pace

Family SUVs

The clue here is in the name – these SUVs are designed with you and your family in mind. They're larger than the SUVs in the class below, and this means more space inside for people and luggage. They still need to be good to drive, though, and comfortable over long distances.

The Jaguar E-Pace is one of this class's newest entries and, following on from the success of the larger F-Pace, Jaguar has given its smallest SUV sharp styling inside and out. Good as it is, though, it doesn't move this class on very far.

Read our full Jaguar E-Pace review >

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

The Eclipse name is well known to motoring fans, but many were surprised to see it appear on an SUV. Still, Mitsubishi's offering is spacious and well equipped, and we like the refinement of the sole petrol engine on offer.

Read our full Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross review >

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Nissan Qashqai

Nissan Qashqai

The Qashqai is the car that started the current craze for SUVs and it remains one of the very best – in fact, it's another former What Car? Car of the Year winner. We like its classy interior that is also practical for families, while its efficient range of engines should keep running costs low.

Read our full Nissan Qashqai review >

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Seat Ateca

Seat Ateca

The Ateca is a brand new type of car for Seat, as the Spanish brand has never before sold an SUV. Fortunately, the combined years of experience from elsewhere in the Volkswagen Group means the Ateca is a real corker – it's good to drive, well priced and has a spacious interior.

Read our full Seat Ateca review >

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Skoda Karoq

Skoda Karoq

Given the success of the larger Kodiaq, it seemed inevitable that Skoda's second SUV effort, the Karoq, would be similarly good. This replacement for the Yeti is comfortable and practical, and even entry-level models come with lots of toys, including dual-zone climate control and an 8.0in infotainment touchscreen.

Read our full Skoda Karoq review >

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Vauxhall Grandland X

Vauxhall Grandland X

The largest of Vauxhall's trio of X-named SUVs is based on the Peugeot 3008 and so offers many of the same comfort and practicality benefits of that car. It drives fairly well, too, and our recommended 1.2-litre petrol engine is peppy yet frugal.

Read our full Vauxhall Grandland X review >

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Volvo XC40

Volvo XC40

Volvo's smallest SUV has impressed us with its quality interior and comprehensive amount of safety kit. The engine range is fairly limited right now, mind, but once that expands the XC40 has real potential to be a game-changer in this market.

Read our full Volvo XC40 review >

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Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Large SUVs

A large SUV is anything more than 4.5 metres long – and given their size, these cars usually aren't cheap to buy on cash or on a finance deal. That means offering value for money is even more important, along with everything else you'd expect from a large car – namely luxury, comfort and practicality.

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio was much anticipated by fans of the Italian brand and, fortunately, it keeps the fun and engaging driving style that Alfa Romeo is well known for. Add in competitive running costs and the smooth automatic gearbox, and it's a real contender. Interior quality could be better, though.

Read our full Alfa Romeo Stelvio review >

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Audi Q5

Audi Q5

If you're looking for a plush SUV with a stunning interior, then the Q5 must surely be at the top of your shortlist. This five-star SUV is a true all-rounder, able to conquer hill and dale (or town and motorway roads) while keeping you and your family comfortable.

Read our full Audi Q5 review >

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BMW X3

BMW X3

The latest X3 offers great handling and a strong range of engines, even if it's more expensive to buy on a PCP finance deal than most of its rivals. As a bonus, though, you get BMW's class-leading iDrive infotainment and navigation system as standard.

Read our full BMW X3 review >

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Mazda CX-5

Mazda CX-5

On the face of things, the fact that Mazda's largest SUV doesn't offer the option of seven seats would put it at a disadvantage. The truth, though, is that if you don't need space for seven, then this is one of the very best large SUVs on sale – it's comfortable, practical and comes with either a frugal diesel or punchy petrol engine.

Read our full Mazda CX-5 review >

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Nissan X-Trail

Nissan X-Trail

Think of the X-Trail as a Nissan Qashqai with two extra seats, meaning you can take up to six people with you when you travel. It's spacious inside, so you can take all of your family's luggage too, but some of its rivals are better to drive.

Read our full Nissan X-Trail review >

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Peugeot 5008

Peugeot 5008

Like the smaller 3008, the 5008 gets funky looks inside and out, and an interior modelled on the award-winning i-Cockpit design. It may look more form than function inside, but we've found it easy to use and live with, plus the 5008 offers a decent ride and flexible seating.

Read our full Peugeot 5008 review >

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Skoda Kodiaq

Skoda Kodiaq

The Kodiaq is Skoda's first ever SUV model but, thankfully, the Czech car maker has produced a great all-rounder. It's got space inside for up to seven people plus their luggage, is good to drive over long distances and our recommended SE versions come with plenty of technology.

Read our full Skoda Kodiaq review >

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Volvo XC60

Volvo XC60

Imagine the plush Volvo XC90 put onto a photocopier, with the size set to 75% – and, hey presto, you've made an XC60. There's plenty of the same things to like about the XC60 as its larger sibling, including its elegant interior and superb driving position. The fact that you get lots of equipment as standard is a bonus, too.

Read our full Volvo XC60 review >

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Audi Q7

Audi Q7

Luxury SUVs

So you don't just want an SUV, you want a luxury car too? Not a problem. These models combine the go-anywhere ability of an off-roader with the supreme comfort of a stretched limousine. You might want to look at their price tags through your fingers, though.

The Q7 is a very strong contender in this market, mainly thanks to its high-quality interior and cosseting ride. Go for an SE model and team it with our recommended 3.0-litre diesel engine and you'll have one of the finest cars on sale today.

Read our full Audi Q7 review >

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Land Rover Discovery

Land Rover Discovery

The Discovery has been around for a long time now but, in its latest form, it is fully deserving of the title of 'luxury SUV'. It's sumptuous inside, offering the kind of comfort you'd usually expect to find in the larger Range Rover. Add in its continent-crossing ability (on and off road) and the fact that it will hold onto its value better than many others in this class and it's easy to see why so many people buy the Discovery.

Read our full Land Rover Discovery review >

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Range Rover Velar

Range Rover Velar

Looking at its dramatic styling, you might imagine the Velar is a case of style over substance. Oh, ye of little faith, says Land Rover. The Velar is luxurious inside, good off road and we've been impressed with its range of V6 engines. Only a fiddly infotainment system and average rear leg room let the side down.

Read our full Range Rover Velar review >

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Porsche Cayenne

Porsche Cayenne

If you want a luxury SUV with a badge that's truly special, then the Porsche Cayenne will likely already be on your shortlist. It's big, practical and fast, with our recommended Cayenne S version able to reach motorway speeds in 5.2sec. It's comfy inside, too.

Read our full Porsche Cayenne review >

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Audi SQ5

Audi SQ5

We're already big fans of the regular Audi Q5, so it comes as no surprise to find that this version, which has more power and enough handling prowess to put a smile on your face come rain or shine, is even better still. What's particularly good, though, is that, despite its heady performance, the SQ5 remains supremely comfortable inside.

Read our full Audi SQ5 review >

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Mercedes-AMG GLC 43

Mercedes-AMG GLC 43

This hot version of the Mercedes GLC comes with some seriously impressive statistics: a 3.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine producing 362bhp, a 0-62mph sprint time of 4.6sec and a top speed of 155mph. And yet it's also usable as everyday family transport.

Read our full Mercedes GLC review >

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Fiat 500L

Fiat 500L

MPVs

While the global shift from MPVs to SUVs means there's now less global demand for people carriers, for families for whom space is an absolute priority these cars can represent a bargain.

The 500L keeps the cute looks of the regular 500 city car but, as its name suggests, offers more space inside. We like its flexible interior space, esepcially in its rear seats, and the amount of safety kit that's on offer.

Read our full Fiat 500L review >

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Renault Grand Scenic

Renault Grand Scenic

The Grand Scenic is good-looking, well equipped and performed very well in Euro NCAP's safety tests. Some rivals are more comfortable on longer trips, though.

Read our full Renault Grand Scenic review >

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Vauxhall Zafira Tourer

Vauxhall Zafira Tourer

Vauxhall's Zafira Tourer is certainly spacious enough and our recommended Tech Line versions come with sat-nav as well as lounge-style seating and climate control.

Read our full Vauxhall Zafira Tourer review >

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Volkswagen Golf SV

Volkswagen Golf SV

Take the Golf hatchback, make it longer and taller and what you've created is the SV – a mini MPV that retains much of what we like about the regular Golf but adds the kind of interior practicality that a growing family needs.

Read our full Volkswagen Golf SV review >

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Volkswagen Touran

Volkswagen Touran

The Touran is our reigning champion in the MPV market. It's good to drive and extremely well built inside, but it carries a premium price tag to match its posh badge.

Read our full Volkswagen Touran review >

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BMW 5 Series Touring

BMW 5 Series Touring

Estate cars

These cars are all about boot space. If you don't want to commit to an SUV, estates are your next logical port of call. In this class, we're looking for space and grace; we don't want a bigger boot to come at the expense of a good driving experience.

The 5 Series Touring stands a better chance here than most. It is, after all, based on our Car of the Year for 2017. We've been impressed by its classy interior, massive storage space and strong range of engines, with the frugal 520d being our recommended choice.

Read our full BMW 5 Series Touring review >

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Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain

Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain

For anyone who wants the go-anywhere capability of an SUV without the chunky looks, then cars such as the E-Class All-Terrain make a lot of sense. This is essentially a jacked-up version of the E-Class Estate, with added cladding to protect the bodywork but the same huge boot space.

Read our full Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain review >

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Peugeot 308 SW

Peugeot 308 SW

This is, you guessed it, a more spacious version of the Peugeot 308 family car. With a high-quality interior and plenty of space for people and luggage, it's as good as you'd expect in this class. What you might not expect, though, is how frugal it can be as well.

Read our full Peugeot 308 SW review >

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Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo

Who says that cars like the Panamera can't be practical too? If you're in need of a high-end car to move your family and their luggage to the Riviera, then you'll like the Sport Turismo's impressive space – as well as its pace.

Read our full Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo review >

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Seat Leon ST

Seat Leon ST

The Leon ST is a great all-rounder: it's cheap to buy and run, has a spacious boot and is well equipped. Frankly, there are very few downsides to it. Only a sightly bland interior spoils the experience.

Read our full Seat Leon ST review >

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Skoda Octavia Estate

Skoda Octavia Estate

The Octavia is already a very practical car – in fact, it's among the most spacious family cars you can buy. This estate version, then, is practically gargantuan. It's also well equipped and you can add plenty of extra luxuries for a very reasonable price.

Read our full Skoda Octavia Estate review >

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Skoda Superb Estate

Skoda Superb Estate

The Superb Estate is, well, superb in almost every area. It's got more space inside for your family and their luggage than most other cars in this class, it's decent to drive and it won't break the bank to buy or run. It really is a great all-rounder.

Read our full Skoda Superb Estate review >

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Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer

Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer

This more spacious version of the Vauxhall Insignia is very well priced but can't match its rivals for sheer carrying capacity. It's also less comfortable over long distances than some others in this class.

Read our full Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer review >

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Volkswagen Golf Estate

Volkswagen Golf Estate

For many, the Golf is the de facto family hatchback. But if you're in need of more space, this estate version might better fit the bill. It's competitively priced and good to drive, and most versions come with plenty of kit.

Read our full Volkswagen Golf Estate review >

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Audi RS3

Audi RS3

Hot hatchbacks (sponsored by Warranty Direct)

These cars are all about offering the performance and driving fun you'd expect from a sports car but without the associated purchase price or high running costs. Most are based on existing family hatchbacks, too, so should be practical enough to use every day.

Think the regular A3 is just a bit… tame? Try this on for size, then. The RS3 packs a 394bhp punch, has four-wheel drive and a high-quality interior. In fact, very few rivals can match its all-weather pace.

Read our full Audi RS3 review >

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BMW M140i

BMW M140i

The M140i's stats are certainly impressive – its engine produces 335bhp, it can cover the 0-60mph sprint in just 4.5sec and it will leave most rivals for dust if you put your foot down on a wet road. In short, it's intoxicating to drive quickly.

Read our full BMW M140i review >

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Ford Fiesta ST Line

Ford Fiesta ST Line

With a mere 138bhp on offer, the ST Line version of the latest Fiesta is best decribed as a tepid hatch rather than a hot one, but it's nontheless great fun to drive quickly.

Read our full Ford Fiesta ST Line review >

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Honda Civic Type R

Honda Civic Type R

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 in the interior, too.

Read our full Honda Civic Type R review >

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Hyundai i30N

Hyundai i30N

The i30N is a gamble for Hyundai, as the Korean car maker hasn't so far been known for creating hot hatchbacks. Still, the gamble appears to have paid off, because the 271bhp car is a hoot to drive quickly.

Read our full Hyundai i30N review >

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Peugeot 308 GTi

Peugeot 308 GTi

The 308 GTi is definitely fast enough to keep up with its rivals, but we also like that its engine is fairly efficient, so your running costs shouldn't be astronomical. It's got a large boot, too.

Read our full Peugeot 308 GTi review >

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Abarth 124 Spider

Abarth 124 Spider

Convertibles

Think of a convertible car and you'll probably picture a sun-drenched road and the feeling of the wind in your hair. The truth, though, is that these cars need to be as usable during the winter months as they are during the summer.

The 124 Spider is based on Fiat's car of the same name, which in turn is heavily based on the Mazda MX-5, and the MX-5 has long since been one of our favourites in this class. Just as we'd hoped, the 124 Spider is fun to drive and has plenty of power.

Read our full Abarth 124 Spider review >

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Audi A5 Cabriolet

Audi A5 Cabriolet

This open-top A5 is pleasantly refined and comfortable, meaning you can take long trips and still feel fresh when you reach your destination. It's not especially exciting to drive, though.

Read our full Audi A5 Cabriolet review >

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BMW 2 Series Convertible

BMW 2 Series Convertible

A comfortable ride and strong range of engines makes the 2 Series Convertible a competent grand tourer, but it's not ideal for growing families becasue the rear seats can be cramped for adults.

Read our full BMW 2 Series Convertible review >

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BMW 4 Series Convertible

BMW 4 Series Convertible

This convertible 4 Series is stylish and well equipped, even if it's not as luxurious as some premium rivals. As with any BMW, though, you get the class-leading iDrive infotainment and navigation system as standard and that's a real bonus.

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Mazda MX-5

Mazda MX-5

What we love most about the MX-5 is that, despite offering peppy performance and engaging handling, plus a decent level of standard equipment, it's still nearly impossible to spend a lot of money on one.

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Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet

Like the regular E-Class, the E-Class Cabriolet is more geared towards long-distance touring comfort than performance. Hence it has a wonderful interior and a comfortable ride, but it isn't the most engaging car to drive.

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Porsche 911 Cabriolet

Porsche 911 Cabriolet

What could make the 911 better? Why, by taking its roof off, of course. This is a superb performance car, made only better by giving you that wind-in-your-hair thrill.

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Aston Martin DB11 V8

Aston Martin DB11 V8

Coupés

These cars are all about style and we're willing to sacrifice some elements of practicality for stunning looks. They need to be good to drive, though, and so much the better if they won't cost you the Earth to own.

The DB11 is certainly striking to look at, but this is more than just a showpiece. It's hugely entertaining to drive, especially with the recent addition of a V8 petrol engine. The DB11's interior is beautifully crafted, too.

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Audi TT

Audi TT

The TT is likely what most people think of when they hear the word 'coupé' – stylish, fast and plush inside. The TT is a real champion of this class and we give the current car our full five-star rating.

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BMW 2 Series

BMW 2 Series

The 2 Series goes up against rivals including the Mercedes-Benz CLA and even the Audi A5 in its more expensive forms. It's practical and offers engaging handling, but the list of standard equipment is a bit stingy.

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BMW 4 Series

BMW 4 Series

Want something the size of a 3 Series but with three doors instead of five? Enter the 4 Series. This is BMW's answer to the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé and we like its engaging driving style and the fact that you can carry four people in comfort.

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Lexus LC

Lexus LC

The LC is a stylish contender in this already stylish class and the LC 500 model gets a storming V8 petrol engine that is particularly strong when you keep it at high revs. There's also a more economical V6 hybrid on offer.

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Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupé

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupé

As its name suggests, this is a coupé version of the E-Class saloon and, as such, many of the same things we like about the regular E-Class apply here too, including its sumptuous interior and comfortable ride.

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Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Sports cars

In this class, performance and handling are our top priority. You'll want something with the sort of pace and agility that will leave lesser rivals eating your dust, a hardcore edge so you can test your limits on track, but also enough refinement so you can still use it on the motorway. Here, practicality and fuel economy are less important.

The Giulia Quadrifoglio is a good example of the sports saloon breed. It packs a 503bhp punch from its V6 petrol engine and can cover the 0-62mph sprint in 3.9sec. It has a downright crazy top speed, too, at 191mph.

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Audi RS5

Audi RS5

Take the regular A5, fit more aggressive bodywork and a 444bhp engine and what you've created is the RS5. It's a stunning performer and also surprisingly practical for a large coupé.

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BMW M5

BMW M5

The M5 is already off to a flying start here, given that it's based on our 2017 Car of the Year, the 5 Series saloon. It's a lot faster, though, thanks chiefly to its 4.4-litre V8 engine that produces – gulp – 592bhp. That means you'll be hitting motorway speeds from a standing start in just over three seconds.

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Lamborghini Huracán Performante

Lamborghini Huracán Performante

The Hurácan in its standard form is hardly a shrinking violet, but the Performante version is even lighter and even faster. It's one of the fastest cars you can buy right now, in fact. Just don't expect to use one on your daily commute.

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McLaren 570S Spider

McLaren 570S Spider

The 570S is an open-top rival to the Audi R8 Spyder and Ferrari 488 Spider, so in such glamorous company it needs to be very good indeed. Fortunately, it is – the 570S has earned our full five-star rating. We especially like its everyday usability.

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McLaren 720S

McLaren 720S

Think the 570S is too tame? Smashing – this 720S should suit you perfectly. It's one of the best supercars around right now; it's exciting to drive and easy to live with every day. Just try not to think too much about that hefty price tag.

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Mercedes-AMG GT

Mercedes-AMG GT

The GT is Mercedes-AMG's first bespoke car and follows on from the now-discontinued SLS. It features a V8 petrol engine, a stunning interior and offers a truly inspiring driving experience. It's fairly usable every day, too.

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Porsche Cayman

Porsche Cayman

The Cayman is exceptional, mainly because it costs so much less than many of the other cars in this class. It's also storming to drive and has a classy interior. The list of kit you get as standard is fairly spartan, though.

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Porsche 911 GT2 RS

Porsche 911 GT2 RS

The 911 GT2 RS was born from Porsche's racing experience and is essentially a 911 after a thorough diet and with more power. It's absolutely stunning to drive. You will, however, need to have more than £200,000 to buy one.

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Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf

Electric cars

Driving along with no emissions, a silent engine and filling up costs a small percentage of what you're used to – sounds like a dream, right? Wrong. Electric cars are quickly becoming mainstream and, here, practicality, running costs and a smooth drive rule the roost.

The Leaf was one of the first mass-market electric cars and this new version is improved in every way. There's more power from its electric motor, a greater driving range and a better interior. Perhaps most tempting of all, though, is that it will cost you around £27,000 to buy – that's before the Government's electric vehicle grant.

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Renault Zoe

Renault Zoe

The Zoe is one of our favourite cars in this market, offering up to 250 miles on a single charge and low running costs. On the negative side, its interior isn't exactly plush.

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Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

The Model S is a luxurious electric saloon that offers one of the longest driving ranges of any electric car. The P100D performance version is among our favourites, because it can cover the 0-62mph sprint in a barely believable 2.5sec.

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Volkswagen e-Golf

Volkswagen e-Golf

If you want an electric car that doesn't sacrifice anything in terms of comfort or practicality compared with your exsiting family hatch, then the e-Golf is a great choice. It is every bit as usable as a regular Golf and you can travel for up to 125 miles on a single charge.

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BMW 330e

BMW 330e

Hybrids

If you're unsure about switching to a fully electric car, then a hybrid or plug-in hybrid could be the perfect halfway house. You'll be able to drive part of your journey on electric power but still have the reassurance of an engine. The best cars here are quiet and comfortable, no matter which power source they're using.

In the 330e, you can drive for up to 25 miles on electric power alone before switching over to the petrol engine. With claimed fuel economy of close to 150mpg, trips to the petrol station should be few and far between.

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BMW 530e

BMW 530e

This plug-in hybrid version of the 5 Series saloon combines a four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor, allowing you to drive for up to 29 miles on electric power alone. With CO2 emissions of just 46g/km, it's an appealing choice for company car drivers.

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BMW 740e iPerformance

BMW 740e iPerformance

The most luxurious of BMW's plug-in hybrids is the 740e, which, as you've likely guessed, is based on the 7 Series luxury saloon. It again combines a small petrol engine with an electric motor and, as with the 530e, can drive for up to 29 miles on eletric power alone before switching to combustion power.

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Hyundai Ioniq

Hyundai Ioniq

The Ioniq is really three cars in one, because it can be had as a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid or a fully electric car. In plug-in hybrid form, you can travel for up to 31 miles on electric power. With a combined 139bhp on offer, it feels sprightly too.

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Lexus LC 500h

Lexus LC 500h

This hybrid version of the LC performance coupé matches a V6 petrol engine with an electric motor. It's a strong performer, but the transition between electric and petrol power isn't always smooth.

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Mercedes-Benz C350e

Mercedes-Benz C350e

As its name suggests, this is a plug-in hybrid version of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class executive saloon, mating a 2.0-litre petrol engine to an electric motor. Although your running cost should be small, so is the boot space.

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Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Turning the Outlander large SUV into a plug-in hybrid has worked wonders for Mitsubishi, because its low CO2 emissions mean it's a strong contender for company car drivers. There's plenty of standard equipment, too, including sat-nav, leather seats and a 360deg camera.

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Toyota Prius

Toyota Prius

The Prius was the world's first mass-market hybrid car and has sold in its millions around the world. The plug-in hybrid version allows you to travel for up to 25 miles without ever using the petrol engine.

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Volkswagen Golf GTE

Volkswagen Golf GTE

A Golf with the performance of a GTI hot hatch but with minimal running costs – sounds perfect, doesn't it? This GTE matches a 1.4-litre petrol engine with a small electric motor. It offers peppy performance and an electric-only driving range of around 20 miles.

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Volkswagen Passat GTE

Volkswagen Passat GTE

The GTE is available in both saloon and estate forms, but our favourite estate version is superbly spacious and allows you to drive for up to 31 miles using battery power alone. A slick six-speed auatomatic gearbox comes as standard, too.

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Alfa Romeo Giulia

Alfa Romeo Giulia

Executive cars

This is the class for company car drivers, where low CO2 emissions and cruising refinement are just as important as having a posh badge on the bonnet.

If you're tired of all the me-too German executive saloons, then the Giulia is intended just for you. Combining Italian driving flair with handsome looks, the Giulia is a strong contender in this market. The interior quality on some versions can be disappointing, though.

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Audi A4

Audi A4

Audi's executive saloon is a former What Car? Car of the Year winner. 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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Audi A5 Sportback

Audi A5 Sportback

The A5 Sportback has two more doors than the regular A5 Coupé and is all the more practical for it. We like its sensible driving style and extra boot space.

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Kia Stinger

Kia Stinger

So far, Kia has only had the Optima to offer company car drivers, but the Stinger is aimed towards drivers who want more enagement. You also get serious amounts of kit for your money and a quiet interior.

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Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport

Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport

The Insignia is as synonymous with company car drivers as Slade is with Christmas music. The old car wasn't especially good, but this Grand Sport version is well equipped and cheap to buy.

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Volkswagen Arteon

Volkswagen Arteon

The Arteon is certainly a stylish choice and, despite its coupé looks, is as practical as most of its rivals. It's also got a huge boot and a strong range of engines to choose from.

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Audi A8

Audi A8

Luxury cars

In this class, how comfortable the rear seats are is just as important as how comfortable the front occupants are. If you're in the market for a car here, you'll want a sumptuous interior, supreme refinement and a ride that can soak up the worst lumps and bumps.

The A8 is a fast and comfortable luxury grand tourer, with class-leading interior quality and a smooth range of petrol and diesel engines. You'll have to wait a while before you can use its full range of self-driving capabilities, though.

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BMW 5 Series

BMW 5 Series

The 5 Series is our defending luxury car champion and our overall Car of the Year for 2017. Its interior quality can put rivals that cost twice as much to shame and it's also stunning to drive. The 5 Series is a truly great all-rounder.

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BMW 6 Series GT

BMW 6 Series GT

The 6 Series GT is a kind of halfway house between the 5 Series and the 7 Series. It goes up against rivals including the Audi A7 Sportback and Mercedes-Benz CLS, and we've been impressed both with its interior space and class-leading infotainment system.

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Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Mercedes-Benz S-Class

The S-Class has a long history in the luxury car market and has won our luxury car award more than once. It's still one of the best propositions around, offering great comfort and all the gadgets you could reasonably want.

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