What Car? Car of the Year Awards 2018 – the shortlist

From our initial long list of more than 100 cars, these are the new models in with a chance of being crowned the What Car? Car of the Year for 2018...

What Car? Car of the Year Awards 2018 – the shortlist

Car of the Year shortlist

What Car? has announced the shortlist of 48 new vehicles battling it out to win the coveted overall Car of The Year 2018 accolade, in association with Warranty Direct, at its annual awards ceremony on the 23 January.

The Car of the Year crown will be awarded to a newcomer that has proved itself over all other contenders to be the overall best new car on the UK market.

The shortlist includes a wide variety of vehicles, from city cars and hot hatches through family cars and estates to luxury and sports cars. No fewer than 15 SUVs have made the cut, from large and family versions to luxury, reflecting the explosion in popularity of this versatile sector.

The winner from the shortlist will succeed the BMW 520d SE, which took the prize in 2017.

Click through this slideshow to see all of the cars in the running to be crowned as the What Car? Car of the Year for 2018.

Abarth 124 Spider

Abarth 124 Spider

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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Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

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.

Read our full Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio review >

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Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

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 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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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.

Read our full Audi A5 Sportback review >

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Audi A8

Audi A8

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.

Read our full Audi A8 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 towards 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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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.

Read our full Audi RS5 review >

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BMW 5 Series Touring

BMW 5 Series Touring

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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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.

Read our full BMW 6 Series GT 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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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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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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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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Hyundai i30 Tourer

Hyundai i30 Tourer

This estate version of the i30 has a refined range of engines and decent boot space, as well as a functional – if a little bland – interior. Low running costs and top build quality help it to stand out from the crowd.

Read our full Hyundai i30 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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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 the level 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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Jaguar E-Pace

Jaguar E-Pace

The Jaguar E-Pace follows 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 >

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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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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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.

Read our full Kia Stinger 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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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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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.

Read our full Lexus LC 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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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.

Read our full McLaren 720S review >

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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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.

Read our full Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet review >

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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.

Read our full Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupé 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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Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf

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.

Read our full Nissan Leaf 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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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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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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Seat Arona

Seat Arona

The Arona is one of the newest entries to the small SUV 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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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 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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Suzuki Swift

Suzuki Swift

The Swift is a stalward in the small car market, 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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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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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.

Read our full Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport 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 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.

Read our full Volkswagen Arteon 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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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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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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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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