Best new cars of 2020 in the UK

  • Our pick of 2020's most exciting new cars
  • Expect SUV sales to continue to dominate
  • Growth of electrified cars set to increase

A new year is nearly with us – and what better time to look at the most exciting new cars for 2020. Big hitters like the BMW 3 Series, Range Rover Evoque and Porsche 911 were launched in 2019 and moved the game on, so it will be interesting to see if the Ford Kuga, Volkswagen Golf, exciting Honda e and next-generation Peugeot 208 have the same effect.

Family favourites default to being SUVs

Continuing a trend we’ve seen for the last few years, SUVs continue to dominate new car debuts in 2020. They're now more popular across Europe than traditional saloons and hatchbacks - now just about every manufacturer now offers a high-riding crossover or 4x4.

More electric and hybrid vehicles

Green 2020 Volkswagen ID.3 2020 driving

Another trend for 2020 is the growing number of electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids offered on the market. Most manufacturers have promised some level of investment into the technology, whether that be fully electric or plug-in hybrid offerings across their range, or just a level of mild-hybridisation on select engines.

There are also a fair few totally bespoke electric vehicles heading to market, such as Volkswagen’s ID.3 which will spearhead a new all-electric sub-brand. This is going to be the most important launch of the year – and could well be the gamechanger that sees EVs properly enter the mainstream.

>> Read more: Best electric cars in 2020

Big sellers get rebooted in 2020

2020 is set to be the year several manufacturers refresh or totally relaunch some of their most crucial models. The new Volkswagen Golf sees Europe's most popular hatchback go in for a full-yet-conservative refresh – and its most important rival being an internal one... the ID.3 electric car. The big news is that Land Rover will be unleashing the new Defender on us after a gap of four years. Out goes the overtly utilitarian theme of the old one – in comes the perfect car to replace older Discoverys. Will it sell? You bet.

Meanwhile, in the European small car leagues, Peugeot and Renault will go tete-a-tete when their new 208 and Clio superminis launch into the same market early in 2020. Both have undergone huge transfrmations, aimed at delivering big-car technology and driving dynamics in small packages. We’ve driven both, and in round one, we favoured the Clio.

The most important new cars for 2020

SUVs

  • Alfa Romeo Tonale
  • Aston Martin DBX
  • Ford Puma 
  • Ford Kuga
  • Land Rover Defender
  • Mercedes-Benz GLA
  • Nissan Qashqai
  • Peugeot 2008
  • Renault Captur
  • Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet

Electric vehicles

  • Audi E-Tron Sportback
  • Audi Q4 E-Tron
  • Bollinger B1
  • Ford Mustang Mach-E
  • Honda e
  • Jaguar XJ
  • Mercedes-Benz EQA
  • Mercedes-Benz EQS
  • Mercedes-Benz EQV
  • MINI Electric Hatch
  • Peugeot e-208
  • Peugeot e-2008
  • Tesla Model Y
  • Vauxhall Corsa-e
  • Volkswagen ID.3
  • Volvo XC40 Recharge

Hatchback, saloons, estates

  • Audi A3
  • Honda Jazz
  • Hyundai i10
  • Mercedes-Benz S-Class
  • Peugeot 208
  • Renault Clio
  • SEAT Leon
  • Skoda Superb PHEV
  • Toyota Yaris
  • Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake
  • Volkswagen Golf

Below are the Parkers pick of the best up and coming cars for 2020 – it's a broad selection of cars that appeals to all buyers, but we think that each and every one will be exceptional in some way or another.

Best new SUVs for 2020

Ford Puma

2020 Ford Puma

Ford’s compact Fiesta-based crossover is one of the prettiest examples of the breed yet, with delicate proportions and subtle curves that are the antithesis of the dumpy EcoSport. Not only is it an effective visual translation of the 21st century need for tall off-road aesthetics blending with the timeless desire for dynamic sports cars, it’s a really great package overall.

Proven Fiesta components, the latest safety technology and Ford’s track record on reliability and value make the Puma one to watch in 2020 – and if its svelte looks take the place of dumpier crossovers on Britain’s roads, we can’t wait.

By Richard Kilpatrick

Ford Kuga

2019 Ford Kuga front

The current Ford Kuga is a little long in the tooth, but the American brand could have the answer with the new model. Based upon the brilliant Focus hatchback, the new Kuga brings more conventional car-like styling and a much-improved interior. Here’s hoping it also brings some of the Focus’ trademark driving dynamics, too.

Land Rover Defender

2020 Land Rover Defender

The original Defender is still sorely missed, but this all-new replacement will arrive in the first quarter of 2020. You can still have it in three-door 90 and five-door 110 form, while the boxy design, rear mounted spare wheel and Alpine roof windows means it’s still recognisably a Defender on the outside.

Prices have leaped, but you do get more comfort and tech for your money – your smartphone will no longer be the only touchscreen in the cabin, for example. Plus, there’s more passenger space and you can have a choice of five, six or seven seats. Strong off-road capability is still high on the agenda, while engines include 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesels and petrols, along with a range-topping 3.0-litre six-cylinder mild-hybrid petrol.

By Lawrence Cheung

Peugeot 2008

2020 Peugeot 2008

The previous 2008 looked a bit like an SUV but was actually very compact – and a little dull. This 2020 model really ramps up the kerb appeal with sharp styling and much more character, with a neat and appealing evolution of the larger 3008’s style. It’s even more eye-catching inside with high-quality dash with large displays (including a 3D digital instrument cluster), a great driving position and plenty of room for a small family car. There’s also a wide range of engines to choose from (especially if you want petrol power), and a broad selection of trim levels that come generously equipped. Plus, there’s an all-electric e-2008 available as well…

By Tom Goodlad

Best new electric cars for 2020

Bollinger B1

2020 Bollinger B1

Bollinger may be a newcomer to the car industry, but the B1 is an age-old concept – a working vehicle built for repairability, strength and uncompromising ability. Just like the vehicles that precede it on that rocky path – the Land Rover, Jeep and Ford Bronco – it’s relied on the very latest technology, applied in a devastatingly simple, functional way to provide the maximum utility.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it also looks a lot like those vehicles – engineering evolution in action. Two electric motors and a massive, enclosed flat-floor, chassis and battery pack create a skateboard with ingenious suspension for maximum clearance and a body that can be configured for all manner of applications – including full-length loads. It would look at home in 1945, but in fact, it’s 75 years of experience and learning in one deeply competent, uncompromised package, setting new standards in 2020.

By Richard Kilpatrick

Ford Mustang Mach-E

2020 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Messing with a proven brand is risky – and in some ways, had Ford introduced the Mustang Mach-E four years ago, it might have been a really worthwhile risk. Ford’s fast EV is well-executed, technically impressive and reasonably priced – just the kind of thing to sway diesel devotees and petrolheads to battery power. However, most mainstream manufacturers now offer a high performance, attractive and aspirational fully-electric model, and that puts the rather identikit Mustang on the back foot – it’s got serious competition from Tesla’s Model 3, the Jaguar I-Pace and Audi E-Tron before it even arrives on our shores.

Contrived styling forces the identity of the legendary Pony car onto a thoroughly sensible SUV, though the core shape isn’t unattractive in the first place. It’s a distraction that isn’t needed – the Mustang Mach-E is a great zero-emissions family car. Don’t buy it because the name evokes 1960s American freedom – buy it because it’s one of the most convincing fully-electric SUVs yet.

By Richard Kilpatrick

Honda e

2020 Honda e

Fabulous looking isn’t it? Cute but not too kitch. Square body with five doors, but there’s lots of subtlety too. The door handles are flush, and those door mirrors aren’t really mirrors - they’re cameras. The Honda e promises a WLTP-backed electric range of up to 136 miles, and it can be topped up to 80% capacity in 30 minutes using a rapid charger. There will be a pair of power outputs on offer. Buyers are able to choose between 136hp and 154hp versions.

Inside, a big bank of screens across dashboard are hi-tech and eye catching. Being an electric car, there’s no transmission tunnel either, meaning there’s loads of room up front.The rear looks more cramped - but two adults should get in the back with relative ease.

By Murray Scullion

Kia Soul EV

2019 Kia Soul EV front

Kia’s new Soul is a lot like the previous models – a stylishly square SUV. However, the UK market will only receive one version, and it’s the fully electric Soul EV. Sharing a powertrain with the Kia e-Niro means the Soul EV will be capable of an impressive 280 miles on a charge, while buyers can expect strong performance and of course, the brand’s standard seven-year warranty.

MINI Electric Hatch

2020 MINI Cooper SE

The MINI Hatch surges into a new decade with an all-electric model joining the line-up. Unsurprisingly MINI’s gone to town on the styling with plenty of EV-specific features with eye-catching alloys and plenty of yellow accents (more subdued colours are also available), plus there’s a new digital instrument display ahead of the steering wheel inside.

The MINI Electric also sports a Cooper S badge so the trademark sportiness should be present and correct like you get in any model, but with silent-running and a 145-mile range, so it should be ideal for whizzing around city streets without too much on your conscience.

By Tom Goodlad

Peugeot e-2008

Peugeot e-2008 (2020) driving

Offering a car with an electric powertrain alongside conventional petrol and diesel options is a great way to democratise EVs. Peugeot’s certainly flying the flag with its e-2008. Thanks to a hefty 50kWh battery pack it’s capable of a genuinely useful WLTP range of 193 miles on a full charge, and fast charging will get you underway in a jiffy if you can find a suitable charger.

It’s also just as good to drive as its conventionally powered siblings. Peugeot’s styling department’s really knocking it out of the park, too, so this car looks as stylish and futuristic inside and out as any other compact crossover.

By Tom Wiltshire

Volkswagen ID.3

2020 Volkswagen ID.3 1st Edition

Volkswagen’s first purpose-built electric vehicle (the e-Golf and e-Up were based on petrol models), the ID.3 looks particularly promising. It’s built on a bespoke set of components geared towards electric vehicles, and with an unconventional shape it should provide excellent passenger room. Best of all, the largest battery on offer will keep the car going for more than 350 miles between charges – seriously impressive.

By Keith Adams

Best new hatchbacks, saloons and estates for 2020

Hyundai i10

2020 Hyundai i10, driving

Hyundai’s i10 has been the perennial runner up of the city car sector. The Volkswagen Up has always been just that bit better. Can this new car steal the crown? It’s certainly a lot newer than the Up. The Volkswagen’s interior is beginning to look its eight-year age, whereas the i10’s is up to date. Top spec models will get keyless start, an eight-inch infotainment screen and heated seats.

From launch, there will be two engines – an entry-level 1.0-litre three-cylinder and a more powerful 1.2-litre four-cylinder. An N Line version will be available for the first time. Expect a two-tone paint job, big wheels, and a peppy 1.0-litre turbo engine.

By Murray Scullion

Peugeot 208

2019 Peugeot 208 front

Peugeot has form with small cars, and the new 208 looks like it’s going to continue that legacy. Divisive styling aside, this dinky hatchback will offer a wide array of engine options including a fully electric variant in the e-208. It also features the very latest incarnation of Peugeot’s i-Cockpit interior setup, with innovative 3D-effect digital dials.

Renault Clio

2019 Renault Clio front

Competing with its arch-rival, the Peugeot 208, the new Renault Clio has a lot riding on it. While its exterior design doesn’t take a massive leap forward, it does on the inside with a new large infotainment display and much-improved material quality. Under the skin, conventional powertrains will be joined by a hybrid later in the model’s lifetime.

Skoda Superb iV PHEV

2020 Skoda Superb iV

One of Parkers’ favourite cars – smart looks, good driving manners and utterly incredible practicality, but now complimented by an of-the-moment plug-in hybrid powertrain which allows zero-emissions motoring round town with the flexibility of a petrol engine for long trips.

The Superb iV benefits from the same recent facelift as the rest of the range, bringing the latest connected features and some minor styling tweaks, but most importantly it retains what’s endeared it to us for all these years. One of the biggest boots and largest rear passenger compartments on sale wrapped up in a pragmatic and good-value package.

Volkswagen Golf

2020 Volkswagen Golf

Without getting too existential the launch of a new VW Golf is a momentous thing because it’s a snapshot of where the industry is at right now in terms of engineering and tech, and represents exactly what the middle majority of drivers wants. It’s a time capsule of motoring in 2020. That’s because it’s designed to appeal to absolutely everyone – it is the blueprint of a normal hatchback, what you’d show to aliens who want to know what a car is, and the mid-point along the spectrum from cheap to luxurious.

Thing is though, if you believe the forecasters, this time around the Golf looks a bit old hat – it’s not an SUV for a start, and it’s no longer available as an EV. The latter being dutifully filled by the upcoming ID.3. Those are the things, we’re lead to believe, that people want. So what gives? Well on the evidence in front of us while those are the emerging trends, what the vast majority of drivers wants is a practical hatchback with  more high-tech interior and lower running costs than the alternatives – the Ford Focus, Kia Ceed or BMW 1 Series.

By Adam Binnie