The winners of the prestigious What Car? awards have been announced, and it’s good news for the Germans – and in particular the Volkswagen Group. Read on to discover the class winners, along with the overall What Car? Car of the Year 2017.
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City car: Hyundai i10 1.2 Premium SE
The Hyundai i10 was given a subtle refresh in 2016, no doubt a factor in staying ahead in this fiercely contested sector. It’s a genuine five-seat city car, which gives it an edge over some rivals, while its five-year warranty is a key selling point.
The range-topping Premium SE model is powered by a 1.2-litre petrol engine and boasts features such as 15-inch alloy wheels, climate control, electric sunroof, LED daytime running lights, cruise control, parking sensors, heated steering wheel and a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. All of this for £12,745.
Small car: Skoda Fabia 1.2 TSI 90 SE
Why buy a Volkswagen Polo when you can buy a Skoda Fabia? It would appear that the judges at What Car? agree with this sentiment, putting the Fabia 1.2 TSI 90 SE model at the top of the small car podium.
Prices start from £11,155, but you’ll pay £14,005 for the award-winning spec. The SE trim level offers 15-inch alloy wheels, manual air conditioning and a radio with telephone control and MirrorLink technology.
Family car: Audi A3 Sportback 1.4 TFSI 150 Sport
Spoiler alert: this won’t be the last time you see a mention of Audi in the 2017 What Car? Awards. It just so happens that the Audi A3 was the best-selling premium hatchback in 2016, meaning this is a rare example of joined-up thinking.
Highlights include a near-perfect interior, a range of punchy and efficient engines, along with a rock-solid image. Little wonder it’s so popular in the UK.
Hot Hatch: Ford Fiesta ST-2 3-door
It’s so good, it’s almost becoming a cliché. The Ford Fiesta ST is the Peugeot 205 GTI for a new generation – an affordable and engaging hot hatch you can drive every day. Last year saw the launch of a limited-edition ST200 model, but the What Car? judges presented the award to the ‘standard’ ST-2.
Also in 2016, Ford launched a new five-door variant, so you can no longer use the practicality excuse for not getting behind the wheel of a Fiesta ST. Believe the hype, it really is that good.
Small SUV: SEAT Ateca 1.4 EcoTSI 150 SE
SEAT enjoyed a tremendous 2016, delivering 410,220 vehicles, which is 2.6% more than in 2015. A major contributor to this success was the new Ateca, with 24,200 units registered since it reached dealers in July.
It’s the firm’s first SUV and prices start from £17,990. Order the award-winning 1.4 EcoTSI 150 SE spec and you’ll pay £21,550. The SE trim includes 17-inch alloy wheels, LED rear lights, an eight-inch touchscreen, cruise control, dual-zone climate control and rear parking sensors.
Large SUV: Skoda Kodiaq 2.0 TDI 150 4×4 SE 7-seat
Some context: Volkswagen Tiguan prices start from £23,140. The new, seven-seat Skoda Kodiaq starts from £21,495. This is just one reason why we expect it to be a big year for the Kodiaq, which has been named the best large SUV by the What Car? judges.
In What Car? award-winning spec, the Kodiaq is a bargain £28,245, which is excellent value for a four-wheel-drive, seven-seat SUV. Form an orderly queue outside your local Skoda dealer.
Luxury SUV: Audi Q7 3.0 TDI 272 Quattro SE
In summarising the Audi Q7, What Car? said: “The Audi Q7 has a relaxing blend of performance and refinement. It’s also beautifully built, practical and well equipped.” Little wonder it’s named as the best luxury SUV.
Highlights include a smooth and powerful engine, a quality cabin and seven-seat practicality, but the Q7 was marked down for its high price. You’ll need to find at least £48,455 to own a new one.
MPV: Volkswagen Touran 1.6 TDI 115 SE
It’s hard to get excited about the MPV category, but these cars still serve a purpose, even in a world obsessed with crossovers and SUVs. Before you drift off, let us tell you that the Volkswagen Touran is named the best MPV by What Car? magazine.
The Touran was also victorious in 2016, with the judges saying: “This new Volkswagen Touran is great to drive, classy-feeling inside and has better safety credentials than most of its rivals.”
Estate car: Skoda Superb Estate 2.0 TDI 150 SE Tech
A victory for common sense here, with the Skoda Superb winning the award for the best estate car. It does everything required of a good wagon, not least an ability to haul a tremendous amount of luggage. The boot expands from 660 litres to a maximum of 1,950 litres with the seats down.
It’s also exceptional value for money, with prices ranging from £21,065 to £35,300 for the quite bonkers SportLine 280PS 4×4. The What Car? judges prefer the more sober 2.0 TDI 50 SE Technology.
Electric car: Renault Zoe Q90 ZE 40 Dynamique Nav
Changes to the rates of road tax will mean that electric cars are more attractive than ever, with only cars emitting zero emissions qualifying being tax-exempt. As one of the more affordable EVs on the market, the Renault Zoe is well placed to take advantage of the changes.
In November 2015, Renault launched a new Zoe Q90 model, capable of travelling up to 250 miles between charges. However, the estimated ‘real life’ range is 186 miles in the summer and 124 miles in the winter. Zoe range prices start from £13,995 for the Expression model, with mandatory battery hire of £59 per month.
Executive car: Audi A4 3.0 TDI 218 Sport
Last year’s overall winner has to make do with the best executive car award in 2017. Not that Audi should feel too disappointed, as it means the A4 stays ahead of the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Jaguar XE.
Highlights include a near-perfect interior and, in the case of the award-winning spec, a powerful and efficient 3.0-litre V6 TDI engine. Curiously, while the 3 Series and C-Class appeared on the list of best-selling cars in 2016, the A4 failed to make an appearance. Strange.
Luxury car: BMW 5 Series 520d SE
To the casual observer, BMW has played it safe with the new 5 Series. However, this large saloon packs plenty of advanced technology under the skin. Widescreen sat nav with Real Time Traffic Information is standard, for example, and BMW Connected Music allows access to 40 million songs via either Deezer or Napster.
The 520d suggested by What Car? is the current fuel economy champ: 65.6mpg is 2.8mpg better than before. A low-CO2 520d EfficientDynamics is on the way, too, promising an incredible 72.4mpg and 102g/km. That’s called having your cake and eating it.
Convertible: Mazda MX-5 2.0 SE-L Nav
January is a good time to buy a convertible, and there are few we’d rather own – at any price – than the brilliant Mazda MX-5. Should the new, sharper MX-5 actually be in the Sports Car category? That’s a question for the What Car? judges…
The winning MX-5 has the more powerful 2.0-litre engine, which means 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds – a second faster than the 1.5 version. Generous SE-L Nav spec is recommended, including a seven-inch screen for the media system and climate control air-con.
Coupe: Audi TT 1.8 TFSI Sport
Objectivity be damned, part of the function of a coupe is to look good, and the curvaceous Audi TT certainly meets that brief. If anything, it looks even better from the inside, with one of the nicest and best-built cabins on the planet.
Again, What Car? gives the nod to one of VW Group’s excellent TFSI petrol engines. The TT isn’t an out-and-out sports car, so the 180hp 1.8 suits it well. Equally, entry-level Sport spec offers all the equipment you need.
Sports car: Porsche 718 Cayman 2.0
OK, the four-cylinder engine in the new 718 Cayman doesn’t sound as good as the old flat-six. However, the new-found turbocharged punch offers ample compensation. And the Cayman continues to leave most rivals standing when it comes to chassis dynamics.
Indeed, the entry-level Cayman is really all the sports car you need – as acknowledged by the What Car? Team. Better than a 911? Certainly better value, yes.
Reader award: Honda Civic Type R
What Car? Readers were asked to vote on the most exciting car due to launch in 2017. The wild-looking new Honda Civic Type R was the winner, beating the electric Jaguar I-Pace SUV into second place. The Lexus LC 500 coupe was third.
Safety award: Toyota Prius
The Toyota Prius isn’t just a green car, it’s a safe one too. The latest 2016 model earned five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests, with an outstanding 92% for adult occupant safety. It also scored 85% for ‘safety assist’, boosted by standard automatic emergency braking.
The Peugeot 3008 was second in the Safety category, with the Volkswagen Tiguan third.
Technology award: Peugeot 3008 i-Cockpit
Not everyone is a fan of Peugeot’s trademark small steering wheel, but What Car? judges clearly are. The 3008 also offers a high-tech digital dial display as standard, which should make Audi owners who’ve just paid for the ‘Virtual Cockpit’ think twice.
Runner-up in the category was the Renault Zoe electric car, while the Audi SQ7’s advanced 48-volt electrical system earned it third place.
Car of the year: BMW 5 Series 520d SE
So, here it is: the overall winner of What Car? Car of the Year 2017. Having already taken victory in the Luxury Car class, the BMW 520d SE was judged the best new car of the past 12 months.
What Car? Road testers said: “The latest 5 Series is even more efficient than its predecessor and sets the class standard for handling and refinement, while its interior provides technology and a sense of luxury usually reserved for far more expensive machinery.”