What are the greatest cars of the decade?

Bugatti Chiron - greatest cars of the decade

We’re approaching the end of the decade and nobody is really sure what to call it. The ‘twenty-tens’? The ‘teens’? The ‘noughties’? Coming up with a list of the greatest cars of the past decade is just as hard, but we’ve had a stab at it.

Well, it makes a change from reading about Love Island, right?

To sharpen our minds, we’ve limited the list to 20 cars and have attempted to provide a broad spectrum of vehicles. Oh, and no more than one car for every manufacturer.

Have a read and then come up with a list of your own in the comments below. 

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio - greatest cars of the decade

God knows it isn’t perfect, but in a world of engine downsizing, all-wheel-drive safety nets and derivative crossovers, we’re mighty pleased that the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio exists. It’s everything an Alfa Romeo should be – yes, including the faults – and we salute anyone who spends upwards of £63,500 on this Italian gem. Do you want some good news? Used prices start from £45,000…

Alpine A110

Alpine A110 - greatest cars of the decade

In the same way that it’s seemingly impossible to write about the Reliant Scimitar without mentioning a certain member of the Royal Family, every review of the Alpine A110 we’ve read has included a reference to a sports car from Stuttgart. For us, the little A110 is more than simply an alternative to the 718 Cayman, it’s a breath of fresh air and an example of what can be achieved when engineers and designers stick to a tight (and light!) brief. We have a deep fondness for the gem from Dieppe.

BMW M2

BMW M2 - greatest cars of the decade

Our man Tim Pitt has driven a fair few performance cars in his time. Of the BMW M2, he said: “The new BMW M2 is a staggeringly good performance car. The combination of supercar acceleration with a cleverly developed chassis, all wrapped in a package that’s sufficiently compact to make the most of UK roads, is tantalising.” The final sentence of his 2016 review was simple and to the point: “Buy one.”

Bugatti Chiron

Bugatti Chiron - greatest cars of the decade

Tim hasn’t driven the Bugatti Chiron – nobody at Motoring Research has – but as a flagship for the performance car industry and a pin-up for a generation of young car enthusiasts, it has to go down as one of the cars of the decade. The world doesn’t need a 1,500hp and 1,180lb ft of torque hypercar, but it’s thanks to cars like the Chiron that engineers keep pushing themselves and kids keep dreaming. It’s also the reason why – spoiler alert – the likes of the P1 and LaFerrari are absent from this list.

Citroen C4 Cactus

Citroen C4 Cactus - greatest cars of the decade

If the Bugatti Chiron is a demonstration of what can be achieved when you have an unlimited budget, the Citroen C4 Cactus – in its original, Airbump-to-the-max form – is an example of clever thinking and real world practicality. It had many flaws – far too many to list here – but for its feel-good cabin, a focus on reducing weight, and the Airbump technology, it deserves recognition. It’s also far more interesting than the vast majority of modern crossovers. In years to come, it will be good to remember the decade this way.

Dacia Sandero

Dacia Sandero - greatest cars of the decade

Competitive PCP deals have encouraged consumers to push further upmarket, with manufacturers doing little in the way to discourage them. Kia and Hyundai have all but forgotten their budget-led roots, while the mainstream manufacturers have introduced premium sub brands and more posh trim levels than you can throw a Ferrero Rocher at. It means that Dacia has dominated the budget end of the market, establishing a firm foothold in the UK. We still find it remarkable that Dacia was able to offer a brand new car with a three-year warranty for just £5,995.

Ferrari 458 Speciale

Ferrari 458 Speciale - greatest cars of the decade

According to Tim Pitt, the 458 Speciale is the pinnacle. The grand fromage. The best of the best. It is, to Tim, “‘peak’ naturally-aspirated Ferrari”. At its heart is a 4.5-litre V8 engine producing 605hp and mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. As Ferrari’s last ever naturally-aspirated V8 supercar, it has a place in Maranello’s history books. It also just happens to be one of the greatest cars of the decade.

Ford Fiesta ST

Ford Fiesta ST - greatest cars of the decade

If you’re after an era-defining hot hatch, look no further than the Ford Fiesta ST. This is the Peugeot 205 GTI for a new generation – the benchmark for affordable hot hatches. The outgoing Fiesta ST rendered the previously untouchable Renault Sport Clio null and void, while the new three-pot version is every bit as magical as its predecessor.

Jaguar I-Pace

Jaguar I-Pace - greatest cars of the decade

We suspect the next decade will be remembered for its range of alternative fuel vehicles, which means the Jaguar I-Pace. This multi award-winning EV is one of a new breed of premium electric cars, and in our opinion, it’s one of the best. Our man with the light foot, Richard Aucock, called it a “landmark car”, saying that it sets an “impressively high bar to battle over”, High praise.

Kia e-Niro

Kia e-Niro - greatest cars of the decade

Richard had similar words of praise reserved for the Kia e-Niro, too. While it won’t feature in too many people’s top 20 cars of the decade, it’s going to do as much for the mainstream EV market as the I-Pace will do for the premium end. “It’s the best ‘everyman’ electric car we’ve yet seen”, claimed Richard. More high praise.

Lamborghini Aventador SV

Lamborghini Aventador SV - greatest cars of the decade

How can two little letters mean so much? As if the ‘standard’ Aventador wasn’t hardcore enough, Lamborghini injected 50hp and 170 percent more downforce, removed 50kg of weight, and added a host of upgrades to create the SV. There’s a sense that cars like this snarling, V12-engined nutjob are a dying breed – performance for performance’s sake and to hell with emissions, and practicality. The SV tells future generations that we could let our hair down once in a while.

McLaren 600LT

McLaren 600LT - greatest cars of the decade

Some people reckon the 600LT is the best car McLaren has ever built. That’s quite a claim when you stop to think about some of the other cars in McLaren’s back catalogue. Tim Pitt said it was probably the best driver’s car of 2018, claiming that it’s “fit to follow in the tyre tracks of the 675LT and F1 GTR”. If it’s good enough for Tim, it’s good enough for this list.

Porsche 911 R

Porsche 911 R - greatest cars of the decade

There will be some who will claim that this slot belongs to another 911 or even another Porsche. Some would argue that you could fill the entire gallery with Porsches. But we’re opting for the 911 R, with its 4.0-litre flat-six naturally-aspirated engine, six-speed manual gearbox and genuine 200mph top speed. Just 991 were built, with many changing hands for vastly inflated prices. That’s one of the downsides of the current decade.

Rolls-Royce Phantom

Rolls-Royce Phantom - greatest cars of the decade

In truth, we’ve enjoyed better drives in the Wraith, but driving isn’t really the point of a Rolls-Royce. Which is why we think the Phantom is one of the best cars of the decade. Nobody does luxury like Rolls-Royce, so as the company’s newest model, this is arguably the best car in the world right now. We’d rather go for a drive in a Wraith, mind.

Skoda Superb

Skoda Superb - greatest cars of the decade

We think the Skoda Superb is the best all-rounder in the Volkswagen Group, not to mention proof that you don’t really need a crossover or SUV to achieve peak practicality. We’ll take ours with the 280hp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, please. Oh, and finished in Dragon Green paint. Thanks.

Suzuki Jimny

Suzuki Jimny - greatest cars of the decade

Few cars have generated as much buzz and excitement as the new Suzuki Jimny. An unprecedented number of pre-orders was followed by a length weighty list, catapulting Suzuki into waters normally charted by limited-run sports cars and supercars. Our verdict: “Think of the new Jimny as a puppy. It’s not perfect, and there might be more sensible ways of spending your cash, but if you’ve fallen in love with the looks, the car will win you over with its boundless energy and deep-rooted character. As a bonus, the Jimny won’t leave a puddle on your kitchen floor.”

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S - greatest cars of the decade

Tesla has done a brilliant PR job for the electric car industry. While the likes of Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Jaguar are only just getting their electric houses in order, Tesla has been churning out Model S EVs since 2012. The poster car for the plug-in segment offers a realistic range, a host of tech – some useful, others less so – and has provided a springboard for Tesla to launch further sector-busting electric cars.

Toyota GT86

Toyota GT86 - greatest cars of the decade

This might be a controversial choice, but we have a soft spot for the Toyota GT86 and its near-identical twin, the Subaru BRZ. Some might argue that the GT86 needs more power, but that overlooks the delightful balance, the perfect poise and the wonderful steering. It feels like a Porsche 944 for a new generation.

Volkswagen Up

Volkswagen Up - greatest cars of the decade

There are many cars to choose from in the city car segment, but for almost the entire decade, the Volkswagen Up has been the number one choice. It’s well built, neatly packaged, has a strong image and is as good outside of the city as it is in it. The fact that you can order an electric version or a GTI is the icing on the cake. Also available as the Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii.

Volvo XC40

Volvo XC40 - greatest cars of the decade

The roads are filled with crossovers and SUV, and whether you like ‘em or not, they appear to be here to stay. If you must have one, make sure it’s a good one, which is where Volvo comes in. The XC40 is like the brilliant XC90 but in a smaller and more affordable package. If you buy one, make sure it has the orange carpets. Sorted.