Every new car arrives with the aim of actuality the best in its sector, but actual few absolutely accomplish this goal. However, to acquisition out if a new car is absolutely aces of actuality crowned the best in chic we conduct accumulation tests throughout the year.
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We analysis the latest models accession on the bazaar adjoin their capital rivals, with aggregate from EVs and SUVs to hot hatches and supercars activity head-to-head. It’s this access that makes our accumulation tests so valuable, as we anon analyze anniversary new archetypal adjoin the accepted chrism of the crop.
If you’re in the bazaar for a new car and are adverse a bind about what to choose, our accumulation tests will advice you adjudge what’s best for you.
We’ve activated a lot of cars throughout the year, but some head-to-heads stood out added than others so we’ve angled up our favourites of 2018. Read on to acquisition out which ones we’ve picked…
Plug-in hybrids would accomplish it big in 2018, and we kicked off the year by testing two of the best acceptable electrified SUVs: the Audi Q7 e-tron and Volvo XC90 T8.
Both had upmarket designs and high-quality cabins, but ultimately the petrol-electric Volvo exhausted its diesel-electric battling due to its seven-seat versatility and able adeptness – the closing actuality article any acceptable constituent absolutely needs to deliver.
The babyish exceptional SUV area is booming, and Volvo has emerged as a arch SUV brand, so it stood to acumen that back the XC40 accustomed in January it would be a able adversary in an already awash class.
This accepted to be accurate in our amateur test, as the Volvo baffled its German competitors from BMW and Audi with a acceptable win. Acknowledgment to its ample cossack and cabin, it blends versatility with beginning and blue design, affluence of advantageous technology and active dynamics that footstep the band cautiously amid abundance and involvement.
Its rivals actuality ran it abutting – the X1 in accurate – but due to the XC40’s affordability and adorable PCP accounts deals (the acquirement adjustment acclimated by abounding barter adorable for a car in this class), Volvo furthered its acceptable SUV advance with a win.
We said at the time that the achievement was anchored by the actuality that the XC40 was a “fresher, smarter, higher-tech SUV”. About 12 months on, that’s still the case. With looks aggressive by those of the beyond XC60 and XC90, infotainment aggregate with the aforementioned models, and a alluringly alone appearance compared with its added acquired rivals, the Volvo took achievement by aloof binding the antagonism in around every way.
We put SsangYong’s all-new Rexton up adjoin the Renault Koleos and afresh facelifted Mitsubishi Outlander. The Rexton afflicted with its continued annual of accepted kit, costly cabin, able tech and befuddled diesel.
The Koleos won, as it was bigger to drive than its rivals and added comfortable. But the Rexton saw off the added seven-seater on test, alms bigger infotainment and added kit than the Outlander, additional a huge boot.
While 2017 was the year of the supermini, Volkswagen lagged abaft its rivals by alone a few months in ablution its all-new Polo bunched auto in aboriginal 2018. The archetypal was entering a chic abounding of afresh active choices, and the two we chose as analysis rivals accepted to be its toughest competitors: the Ford Fiesta, our ascendant champion, and the abundantly able SEAT Ibiza.
In fact, the Polo is based on the aforementioned belvedere and acclimated the aforementioned agent as the Ibiza in our test. And because of its aerial amount tag and agnate tech, additional the actuality it doesn’t accept a acumen advantage, the VW couldn’t topple the SEAT, which went on to win acknowledgment to its affordability, amplitude and continued annual of kit.
The Polo couldn’t exhausted the Ford, either. The Fiesta had the bend with its added involving drive, greater clarification and adorable accounts deals. However, the Volkswagen still acquitted itself well, with a classier berth that reflected its college price, additional able efficiency.
Snow didn’t stop our analysis amid Hyundai’s affronted new i30 N and Honda’s Civic Type R.
The closing took the win on annual of its absurd performance, above abeyance and absolute gearshift. But the Hyundai’s lower price, able agent and absorbing anatomy meant we came abroad from our accompanying analysis admiring both of these absurd cars.
We angled up four EVs to adjudge which was Britain’s best affordable electric car and if it was the appropriate time to buy one.
The result? A aural yes. The new Nissan Leaf won, which was no abruptness accustomed the aptitude of this Mk2 adaptation of the UK’s acknowledged EV. A greater ambit of up to 168 afar (WLTP) and faster recharge times additional practicality, nosing it avant-garde of the VW e-Golf, BMW i3s and Renault Zoe.
MG’s newest model, the ZS babyish SUV, had some boxy antagonism back we activated it. The SEAT Arona and Citroen C3 Aircross are the best supermini-SUVs, but with the MG priced to bout them it had to action added kit, amplitude and abundance to booty the win.
That wasn’t to be, however, because the poor achievement and refinement, chapped ride and college active costs meant the MG couldn’t authority a candle to those rivals.
With the C3 Aircross’s success in the babyish SUV sector, Citroen faced the botheration that its C4 Cactus competed in the aforementioned class.
So the cast removed some of the anatomy cladding and repositioned the Cactus as a ancestors hatch. But that put it up adjoin the VW Golf and Vauxhall Astra. And while the C4 Cactus was a abundant babyish SUV, it trailed as a hatchback. The Golf and Astra accepted to be abundant added able in our test.
The Alpine brand’s awakening had been in the works for about a decade afore we were assuredly able to get abaft the caster of the new A110 this year – but it was absolutely account the wait.
In our accumulation test, the failing French coupé took on two durably accustomed German sports cars: the Porsche 718 Cayman and Audi TT RS. We admired the A110’s back-to-basics ethos, with a focus on animation to advance administration and performance. It was a accurate driver’s car and a contentment on British roads, and still charcoal amid the best agitative machines we’ve apprenticed this year.
The Porsche won the analysis by alms a added complete package, but as a focused sports car the Alpine could be the bigger choice. It looks beauteous and its agent was as agitative as the Cayman’s – although the five-cylinder Audi still articulate the best of all.
Technology was the adjustment of the day back the new Mercedes A-Class was launched. With augmented-reality accessory aeronautics and a twin-screen infotainment accoutrement captivated up in a premium-feeling, high-quality cabin, the auto confused on leaps and bound from its predecessor.
However, back it met Volkswagen’s Golf and the Audi A3 on its analysis debut, it couldn’t bout the Golf on value, acumen or comfort. So the VW came abroad with yet addition victory.
The Golf remained the acknowledged baron of the ancestors auto chic acknowledgment to its alloy of attributes, but the A-Class accepted a adventurous accomplishment from Mercedes and a audible improvement. Buyers adorable for a added avant-garde approach to autogenous architecture would accept absolutely apparent the claim over the VW.
Compared with these two fresh-feeling models, the Audi A3 showed its age. Although the accepted archetypal acclimated abundant of the aforementioned technology as the Golf, it was pricier and not as acceptable in its bid to booty honours.
The analysis aftereffect was choleric by the actuality that we’ll see a new A3 abutting year, but the VW still accepted it was the boss, while the A-Class emerged as a abundant another to the earlier competition.
To shoot to the top of the hot bear chic is a alpine order, but that was aloof what the Renault Mégane R.S. hoped to do back it hit the UK in July. Renault has austere anatomy in this arena, yet while the Mégane R.S. had its assignment cut out demography on the superb Honda Civic Type R and the car that accepted newcomers could accomplish it in this sector, the Hyundai i30N, it ultimately faltered.
The Civic’s abandoned administration breach opinion, but there was no agnosticism that it had stronger performance, a nicer gearbox and a greater across of adeptness than the Renault. And although the Mégane’s able damping stood out, its agility-boosting 4Control four-wheel council accepted inconsistent. The French archetypal was still added involving than the i30N, and about as acceptable value, so it exhausted the Hyundai to booty additional place.
When the latest Ford Fiesta accustomed aftermost year, it instantly attempt to the top of the chic for handling, so we had aerial hopes for the ST inferior hot hatchback.
We weren’t aghast back we assuredly got to analysis the car adjoin two new bunched achievement rivals: the MINI Cooper S and Volkswagen Polo GTI. This shootout, set on some arced B-roads in the south-west of England, was a action for chic honours from the start, because it was the aboriginal time we had activated any of these models.
All three accepted ablaze buys, accumulation sports-car thrills with the acumen of an accustomed supermini, and all at almost affordable prices. However, it was the Fiesta ST that came out on top, because it delivered able achievement from its new 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo agent to bout its abstract anatomy balance. The MINI afflicted with its disorderly agent note, involving council and antic set-up, while the Polo GTI’s straight-line acceleration and hasty clarification meant it was a added airy choice.
This accepted to be amid the best agitative tests of the year, with the Ford cementing its abode as one of the best-value and best absorbing new cars on sale.
Volvo is accepted for its estates, so back the new mid-size V60 went arch to arch with the Audi A4 Avant, it was one of the year’s best advancing tests.
The Volvo amount more, but its akin of tech, added ample autogenous and bigger adeptness gave it the bend over its German rival. While the A4 put up a able action and is still a abundant wagon, the Volvo’s almost adequate ride and absorbing accepted infotainment arrangement helped it allowance the accord as our best mid-size controlling acreage car.
The Focus was one of 2018’s best important new cars. The aboriginal Ford arguably invented the avant-garde ancestors hatch, with its applied anatomy and fun handling. It had a avant-garde address and awash actual well. Yet afore the Mk4 archetypal arrived, the Focus was stagnating; it was still fun to drive but wasn’t actual aggressive abutting to rivals such as the VW Golf and Vauxhall Astra. That’s now all changed, with the new car bringing added tech and practicality, greater clarification and bluff dynamics.
We declared it the class’s best driver’s car, with a befuddled and quiet 1.0-litre petrol engine, while its berth amplitude exhausted that of the superb Astra on test. But the Focus wasn’t able to bout the boss Golf this time, because the German car accepted added economical, added applied and cheaper to run, with a bigger advised and higher-quality cabin.
It was a abutting result, however; if you amount disciplinarian address over the Golf’s added versatility, the Ford is the car to go for. We attending avant-garde to aggravating added versions of the Focus with altered engines in 2019.
The compound for Audi’s fifth-generation A6 was simple: install tech from the range-topping A8 limo in a downscaled, added affordable and added able package.
It was a success, but the new exec alehouse still couldn’t exhausted BMW’s added affordable and able 5 Series in our test. The Audi’s high-quality cabin, avant-garde infotainment and hardly beyond cossack ran it close, though, and it belted out Volvo’s S90 in the process.
Nearly every car maker is clamouring to body a high-end SUV these days. UK buyers adulation these adequate cachet symbols.
On test, the new Audi Q8 stood out due to its adventurous looks. The 50 TDI additionally accepted its refinement, abundance and space. Yet the new Porsche Cayenne E Hybrid was the best to drive, the best adequate and the cheapest to run, while the Ambit Rover’s torque and costly berth impressed, too.
This year’s arrival of alternative-fuelled cars prompted us to attending at the assorted forms of tech and what you can apprehend from each.
In our test, Hyundai’s Kona Electric accepted that EVs are viable, with a accessible ambit from alike the abate battery. Mitsubishi’s adapted Outlander PHEV accent how plug-ins can cut costs after sacrificing flexibility, while the Toyota C-HR Hybrid afflicted with its able ammunition economy.
It was all change for the new Ceed – not atomic with the name, as Kia had alone the apostrophe to advice with web searches.
The big analysis came from the VW Golf, our favourite hatch, and the Ceed put up a abundant fight. Ultimately, the Kia couldn’t absolutely bout the Volkswagen, but it was a adventurous effort; its abundance afflicted particularly. Hyundai’s new i30 N Band didn’t administer as able a showing, and trailed both rivals.
Which was your favourite Auto Express accumulation analysis of 2018? And did you accede with the verdict? Let us apperceive your thoughts below…
• Review of the Year 2018: index• The BIG car new highlights of 2018• The big car quiz of the year 2018• Head-to-head: the best car accumulation tests of 2018 • A year in pictures: our best car photos of 2018• Why our cars are stars: best abiding tests of 2018• Inside the apple of cars: best motoring appearance of 2018• Best car videos 2018: watch our video highlights• Motorsport analysis 2018: from Formula 1 to Formula E• Amazing moments: our years in cars 2018
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