Another year, another set of awards. The UK Car of the Year (UKCOTY) shortlist has been announced, with the overall winner set to be revealed on 23 February 2018.
In the meantime, charge your glasses to toast the 13 category award winners.
Best Supermini: SEAT Ibiza
We start with the award for the Best Supermini, which goes to the SEAT Ibiza. In summary, the 27 judges – that’s two for every winner – said it’s the “most grown-up car in its class.”
Needless to say, we endorse the decision. Having driven the Ibiza in 2017, Motoring Research’s Andrew Brady said: “It really doesn’t feel like a budget VW Group model – indeed, you’d have to really want a Volkswagen badge to opt for the ancient Polo over an Ibiza. It looks great, in our opinion, while the interior is of high quality. Generous equipment levels means it represents good value for money, and keen drivers are well covered with the FR model.”
Best Small Hatch: Volkswagen Golf
Onwards to the award for the Best Small Hatch, which goes to the Volkswagen Golf. The UKCOTY 2018 fails to deliver any big surprises, so look away now if you were expecting a gong for the Mitsubishi Mirage. Of the Golf, the judges said it’s “the go-to car in this category for all the right reasons.”
There are, of course, many good reasons to buy a Volkswagen Golf, which is why 74,605 were registered in the UK in 2018. This makes it the second most popular car in the UK, behind the Ford Fiesta, which doesn’t receive an award.
Best Family: Peugeot 3008
“Distinctive, different and very capable,” is how the UKCOTY judges summarised the Peugeot 3008, which is named Best Family, seeing off competition from Family Guy, the Addams Family and the Royal Family.
We didn’t use the words ‘distinctive’, ‘different’ or ‘capable’ in our review, but we did call it a “funky SUV”. Prices start from £22,765.
Best Executive: BMW 5 Series
BMW is the only manufacturer to receive more than one award, with the 5 Series emerging victorious in two categories. The 5 Series saloon is named Best Executive, with the judges saying it “does everything you need – and more.”
We said: The new BMW 5 Series is a quality machine. It’s a big step on from the current car inside, with appealing new technology and several sector-unique gadgets. The premium feel has been improved considerably and it’s pretty likely this new 5 will become the executive car to beat when it launches in the UK. Prepare to be impressed.”
Best Luxury Car: Rolls-Royce Phantom
Rolls-Royce tends to do well in the Best Luxury Car category, with the Ghost winning in 2015 and the Dawn breaking other brand’s hearts in 2017. This year it’s the turn of the Phantom, with the judges saying it offers “a sense of occasion like no other.”
We haven’t yet driven the Rolls-Royce Phantom, but we were in attendance when it made its world debut in London. The eighth-generation car draws heavily on the 2003 Phantom VII and is powered by a new 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged V12. We won’t ruin the sense of occasion by listing vulgarities, such as the performance figures or price tag.
Best Estate: BMW 5 Series Touring
What’s the UK’s Best Estate? Sandringham, Balmoral, Blackbird Leys? Not according to the UKCOTY, as the award goes to the BMW 5 Series Touring. “The perfect estate, replete with intelligent technology,” they said.
The 5 Series Touring made its debut at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, with BMW saying it was developed specifically for the European market. Prices start from £38,075 for the 520i SE, increasing to £53,570 for the 540i xDrive M Sport.
Best Small Crossover: Citroen C3 Aircross
Crossovers accounted for three categories in the UKCOTY 2018, with the Citroen C3 Aircross reigning supreme as the Best Small Crossover. “Characterful and very good value,” said the judges.
The C3 Aircross looks and feels a world apart from the old C3 Picasso, with SUV styling that’s very much on-trend in 2018. Prices start from £13,995, and it’s available in three trim levels and with a choice of PureTech petrol and BlueHDi diesel engines.
Best Medium Crossover: Volvo XC60
In summarising why the Volvo XC60 has been named Best Medium Crossover, the UKCOTY judges said it’s “practical, comfortable and [has] a superb interior.” On the same day, the XC60 was named the best performing car of 2017 in the Euro NCAP Best in Class safety awards.
We said: “Pitch the XC60 into its natural habitat – urban driving and long-distance cruising – and it quickly measures up, combining very high levels of comfort with equally convincing safety features and an easygoing manner. It’s a step on from the original XC60, and puts forward an entirely persuasive case against its rivals.”
Best Large Crossover: Skoda Kodiaq
But wait, there’s more love for the ubiquitous crossover, with the Skoda Kodiaq driving off with the award for Best Large Crossover. In summary, the judges said the Kodiaq is “cavernous, discreetly handsome and wonderful to drive.”
Pitched alongside rivals from within the Volkswagen Group, the Skoda Kodiaq offers remarkable value for money, with prices starting from £22,625. Even a top-spec 4×4 with seven seats weighs in at just over £30,000. You’ll pay around the same for an entry-level VW Tiguan Allspace.
Best Coupe: Lexus LC
“Stunning to look at, great to drive,” said the judges of the Lexus LC, which goes forward to the overall award as Best Coupe. Ewan Shepherd, director of Lexus in the UK, said: “The LC is a pivotal car in expressing the exciting new direction Lexus is taking in terms of design, engineering and performance, so it is hugely rewarding to see it being honoured as the best in its class in the UK Car of the Year awards.”
The flagship coupe is available with a 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine or as a 3.5-litre V6 petrol-electric hybrid, both of which are priced at £76,595. We have to say, it looks absolutely stunning in Naples Yellow.
Best Cabriolet: Mazda MX-5 RF
The Best Cabriolet just happens to be the version of the Mazda MX-5 that does a passable impression of a coupe. “There are few cars at this price point that offer this much enjoyment,” said the judges.
The RF’s party trick is its folding roof mechanism, which disappears into the back of the MX-5 in 13 seconds, adding 40kg of weight and around £2,000 to the price of the equivalent standard version. Whisper this, but we’d take the fabric top MX-5.
Best Hot Hatch: Hyundai i30 N
If you wanted a good reason to embrace 2018, it’s the Hyundai i30 N. We’re amazed that Hyundai has been able to build a hot hatch this brilliant at the first attempt. The judges praised its sparkling chassis, unbelievable front-end grip and wonderful steering.
Tony Whitehorn, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor UK, said: “With the development team we had behind the i30N, it was engineered to become a serious contender in what is a well-established and highly competitive segment. Its all-round package of style, equipment, price and state-of-the art high performance technologies make it a fast and fun alternative to the more established names. This award is a testament to how well the i30N has been received so far.”
Best Performance: Kia Stinger
And finally, cementing a double win for South Korea, the Kia Stinger is named the Best Performance car at UK Car of the Year awards. “Takes on the big boys and out-guns them when it comes to value,” said the judges.
The flagship Stinger GT-S is powered by a 3.3-litre V6 twin-turbocharged engine developing 370hp and 376lb ft of torque. This is enough to catapult the world’s most exciting seven-year warranty to 60mph in 4.7 seconds, before hitting a top speed limited to 168mph.