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
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
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.
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.
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.
Audi A5 Cabriolet
Audi A5 Sportback
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ford Fiesta ST Line
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.
Hyundai i30 Tourer
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.