Best cars of 2018 in the UK

  • Our pick of the best new cars for 2018
  • SUVs continue to dominate marketplace
  • Which cars should be on your radar?
  • Our pick of the best new cars for 2018
  • SUVs continue to dominate marketplace
  • Which cars should be on your radar?

What cars should you be looking forward to in 2018? Parkers is here to run you through the best cars worth waiting for – be they petrol, diesel or alternatively fuelled – and from what we've seen so far, it's going to be a great year for car buyers.

An emphasis on driver enjoyment as well as safety is shaping new car designs for 2018 – there’s a lot to look forward to regardless of your motoring tastes and budget.


 

Which small car should I buy in 2018?

Superminis are growing. This is countered by more powerful, efficient, engines and the benefits that come from superior comfort and safety equipment. If you want a small car for 2018, these are our favourites of what’s new.

Ford Fiesta ST

Ford Fiesta ST - top cars 2018

The 2018 Ford Fiesta is already on sale, but the range won’t be complete until the Fiesta ST arrives in showrooms in 2018.

A petrol 1.5-litre turbo engine, producing 200hp, joins the range, and despite the fact is has one fewer cylinders than the out-going ST and measures 1.5 litres instead of 1.6, Ford promises improved performance. It has a chassis tuned for driver involvement, and promises to result in a capable hot hatch for less than £19,000. 

Styling on the ST is subtly different. A more aggressive airdam and rear diffuser differentiate the ST from the regular ST-line models.

Both three- and five-door versions of the Fiesta ST will go on sale early in 2018.

Suzuki Swift Sport

Suzuki Swift Sport - top cars 2018

The Suzuki Swift Sport has been reworked extensively for 2018, and offers affordable performance with a strong youth appeal. A turbocharged 1.4-litre Boosterjet four-cylinder engine should produce at least 140hp. The basic Swift weighs only 890kg, so we're hopeful that the Sport will be similarly lightweight.

The interior design of the Swift is a clean, restrained starting point for the Sport, which takes the proven route of adding supportive seats and red highlights to the trim.

Prices should start at less than £15,000 for a car capable of 0-60mph in less than 8.0 seconds, with distinctive styling and practical interior space. We can't wait, given the brilliance of the old one.

Volkswagen Polo

VW Polo - top cars 2018

The 2018 Volkswagen Polo is the reincarnation of another of the strongest lines of heritage in the supermini world. The Polo has always been very much a miniature Golf, but this all-new model changes tack slightly to place style at the very forefront – with an exterior that’s striking in the metal and a colourful interior that sets new standards in the class.

Most buyers will choose one of the new 1.0-litre TSI turbo petrol engines, but you’ll be able to buy a 1.6-litre diesel, too – and later a 200hp GTI model that promises to also sharpen up the handling.

The regular versions are good to drive, but not especially exciting – making up for this with class-leading interior space and plenty of technology, including an all-digital instrument cluster on the options list called the Active Info Display. It’s a very appealing all-rounder.

We've already driven this car. Read our review of the VW Polo here


 

Best family cars for 2018

If you want versatile, daily use and a minimum of four seats, there’s a range of cars out there tailored to suit, but while most people are switching to SUVs these days, that doesn't mean you have to. Here are our top conventional family cars:

BMW 3 Series

BMW 3-Series (G20)

Despite the popularity of SUVs, the BMW 3 Series remains extremely popular and affordable for families wanting a practical saloon or estate without the perceived bulk of a tall hatchback or SUV.

The 2018 3 Series is based on a new, lighter platform that should retain nimble handling and driver involvement. Externally, BMW knows better than to mess with a winning formula, so expect evolutionary styling and a look closer to the current 5 Series.

Weight reduction should make the 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo models more entertaining to drive. At the upper end of the range, the M340i will attract those too eager to wait for a new M3.

A new BMW 3 Series Touring is also expected to join the range in 2019. 

More details in our 2018 BMW 3 Series Saloon story here

 

Hyundai i30 N/Fastback

Hyundai i30 Fastback - top cars 2018

Building on the success of the current i30, Hyundai is adding some flair to its conservatively competent range.

An opportunity to pick up a performance hatchback away from the usual brands is presented by the i30 N. With 250-280hp available, the development has been overseen by the former VP of BMW's M-division, Albert Biermann. A pre-production drive demonstrates significant improvements over the previous i30 Turbo.

Alongside the N, a new Fastback bodystyle joins the range. Following the style set by Audi's A3 Saloon and the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, the i30 Fastback moves slightly upmarket. Hyundai has suggested that the performance N model might offer 300hp.

Kia Stinger

Kia Stinger - top cars 2018

The Kia Stinger's low, sleek bodywork disguises a surprisingly large car. Slim front wings and flared arches join aggressive front intakes and bonnet vents to underline the sporting intent, yet there’s plenty of room for five adults and 500 litres of luggage, easily accessed through a full hatchback.

Under the bonnet, Kia offers two petrol engines and might offer a third, 200hp diesel option of 2.2 litres in Europe.

The petrol duo are both turbocharged, a 255hp 2.0-litre four cylinder and a 3.3-litre V6 producing 369hp. All models feature an eight-speed automatic gearbox and rear-wheel drive, with optional all-wheel drive.

Final UK pricing is yet to be confirmed, but it is likely that the Stinger will aim to undercut the Jaguar XE and BMW 4 Series; the range-topping V6 should be less than £44,000. 

We've already driven it: go here for the Kia Stinger review


 

The best new SUVs for 2018

There is seemingly no end to the popularity of the SUV.

Manufacturers are moving towards the higher seating position style as the default  for family and premium cars alike. No niche is left unfilled; whatever your budget, needs and taste there is an SUV for you from almost every manufacturer.

Citroen C3 Aircross

Citroen C3 Aircross - top cars 2018

Starting with a list price aimed to undercut the bestselling Nissan Juke, the Citroen C3 Aircross keeps the distinctive style of the new range, but does without the 'airbumps' of the C3 and C4 Cactus. Packaged with the latest technology, even the top-of-the-range Flair model is on sale below £18,000.

The now-familiar Citroen lighting arrangement gains bold contrasting-coloured highlights, and the interior range builds on the Cactus’s variety of materials and schemes. The engine range includes two diesel and three petrol models, spanning 82 to 130hp.

Jaguar E-Pace

Jaguar E-Pace - top cars 2018

The Jaguar E-Pace starts at less than £29,000.

Its compact, sleek body design combines with F-Type styling cues, resulting in classic appeal in a segment dominated by cartoonish, exaggerated details. Inside the F-Type theme continues with a driver-centric dashboard and console layout. The distinctive passenger grab handle reinforces the sporty intent.

It’s not all style, either, as a wheelbase close to that of the larger F-Pace results in impressive passenger space and a respectable 577-litre luggage capacity. 2.0-litre petrol and diesel Ingenium engines from 150hp to 300hp are planned, the lowest output diesel being front wheel drive and rated at 124g/km.

Kia Stonic

Kia Stonic - top cars 2018

Based on the Rio platform, and sharing much of the interior design, the Stonic adheres to the small SUV copybook nicely. Bold C-pillars forming a band of body colour across the roof, a swept-in lower line and a raised driving position and suspension combine with flexible colour configurations, two-tone finishes and an emissions-friendly 1.0-litre T-GDI engine producing 120hp.

Equipment levels and a seven-year warranty will ensure the Stonic is excellent value for UK buyers. Improved driving experience and a modern, bold style mean Kia needs to rely on pure value less and less, however.

SEAT Arona

SEAT Arona - top cars 2018

The Arona is SEAT’s first compact SUV. Riding 15mm higher and 78mm longer than the Ibiza, it keeps the Spanish firm's family look intact with triangular LED running lights and sharp sculpted sides. The internal space is impressive with 400 litres of boot room.

The interior is relatively subdued and mature, with a clean uncluttered look. Two three-cylinder and one four-cylinder petrol engines are offered, ranging from 95 to 150hp, while a 1.6-litre diesel offers 95 or 115hp.

The Arona will be offered with 68 body and roof colour combinations. Though UK trim levels have yet to be released, options include full LED lighting, driver assistance, wireless phone charging and mirroring, and a full suite of safety features.


 

New 4x4s for 2018

Mercedes-Benz X-Class

Mercedes-Benz X-Class - top cars 2018

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class is targeted at the current trend for lifestyle pickups. As such, it will be a popular alternative to an SUV or executive car for those looking for a high driving position, all-wheel drive security and assuming nothing changes, company car tax breaks.

Sharing a platform with the latest Nissan Navara NP300, the X-Class has little need to deviate from the multi-link rear and refined chassis, though some additional stiffening has been applied to the frame.

The interior represents a significant move upmarket over its Nissan and Renault platform mates, with a fully bespoke dashboard and seating, distinctive vents and Mercedes’ own Comand multimedia and navigation system.

Power will initially be provided by the same 2.3-litre turbo diesel as the Navara, in single (X220d) and twin (X250d) turbo forms for 163hp and 190hp respectively. A choice of six-speed manual and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmissions are offered, paired to a selectable part-time four-wheel drive system.

Later in the year, the 258hp V6 X350d will not only increase the power available to the X-Class, it will introduce full-time four-wheel drive with 7G Tronic transmission and Dynamic Select. 

Mitsubishi Shogun Sport

Mitsubishi Shogun Sport

Based on the new, fifth-generation L200 pickup chassis but with a fully enclosed seven-seater body and passenger-tuned suspension, driving dynamics are likely to be acceptable rather than class-leading. 

Equipment available on the Shogun Sport, which is expected to cost around £30,000 when it goes on sale in the UK in mid-2018. Specification will include lane-departure warning, touchscreen media and navigation, adaptive cruise control and a bird's-eye view camera for parking. 

Power will come from the 180hp DI-D 2.4-litre Turbo Diesel, offering 430Nm of torque and around 40mpg, though six-speed manual or five-speed automatic gearboxes. 


 

Other great cars to look out for in 2018

Renault Alpine A110

Renault Alpine - top cars 2018

Renault’s new Alpine A110 brings back a style and nameplate from the 1960s, and a whole new platform for the £50,000 sports car. It has been engineered for weight saving.The Alpine weighs in at 1,080kg, compared with 1,330kg for the Porsche 718 Cayman.

Its 1.8-litre turbo petrol engine produces 252hp, and is mid-mounted so you sit in front of it. The fuel tank is positioned in the front of the car, which helps make for 44:56 weight distribution. Suspension and brakes are specially developed. A seven-speed transmission with paddleshift allows the Alpine to reach 60mph in 4.5 seconds, with a top speed of 155mph.

Light, aerodynamic and powered by an engine of reasonable size, the A110 should be as frugal as it is fun, with pre-release specifications indicating emissions of 140g/km of CO2.


 

New electric cars in 2018

Many manufacturers have been working to meet anticipated demand for electric vehicles, and 2018 will see the release of several high-profile models that aim to normalise the experience and widen the appeal of a battery-powered car.

Jaguar I-Pace

Jaguar i-Pace - top cars 2018

With few contrived 'electric age' styling elements the I-Pace should stand out by simply looking good. The technology beneath is backed by significant investment in the UK.

Mercedes-Benz EQ

Mercedes-Benz EQ - top cars 2018

The EQ’s production model will debut in 2018, moving closer to the SUV segment/GLC in design and market appeal. Capabilities are likely to be comparable to Nissan’s Leaf (below).

Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf - top cars 2018

The Leaf has been a huge success for Nissan. During which time more than a quarter of a million have been sold worldwide. We're told 2018’s Leaf will introduce more autonomous features.

ProPILOT will offer a combination of adaptive cruise control, braking assistance and lane keeping, which will make automated motorway driving possible. A less conventional feature is e-Pedal - a single-pedal driving mode that uses battery-recharging drag to brake the vehicle in normal conditions. Range on the 2018 Leaf has been increased to 235 miles, and a high-performance model will be released before 2019.

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 - top cars 2018

Tesla's next new car will be far more accessible than the Model S and Model X you can currently buy.

The Model 3 should cost around £35,000 when launched in the UK. Styling is smooth and slightly unconventional to emphasise the alternative power plant; a one-piece glass roof and rear window underlines the futuristic nature of the car,  and so does the space-age interior.


 

What to read next: 

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The best cheap electric cars
The best small, economical 4x4s
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