Best new cars coming in 2020

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

Well, no one can accuse 2020 of not being memorable – for all the wrong reasons. But here we are, and as we're now into the second half of the year, it's a good opportunity to look at what new cars are heading your way.

We've already had some big launches, which took place in and around the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic – so we'll forgive you if you missed out on the new Ford Kuga, Volkswagen Golf, exciting Honda e and next-generation Peugeot 208 hitting the roads near you.

SUVs are the undisputed family favourites

Continuing a trend we’ve seen for the last few years, SUVs continue to dominate new car debuts throughout 2020 and beyond. They're now more popular across Europe than traditional saloons and hatchbacks - now just about every manufacturer now offers a high-riding SUV. Not convinced? How about the fact that Volkswagen's bestselling car is now the Tiguan instead of the Golf. Times, they are a-changing.

More electric and hybrid vehicles

Volkswagen ID.4 (2020) front view

Another growing 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 and ID.4 which will spearhead a new all-electric sub-brand. This is likely to be the most important launch of the year, as Volkswagen shifts its electric-car strategy, despite some delays – and could well be the gamechanger that sees EVs properly enter the mainstream.

Want to know what the the car of 2020 is? The electric SUV.

>> Read more: Best electric cars in 2020
>> Read more: Best small cars 2020
>> Read more: Best family cars 2020

The most important new cars for 2020

SUVs

Electric vehicles

Hatchback, saloons, estates

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

Cupra Formentor

Cupra Formentor (2020) front view

SEAT's offshoot performance brand is making a big move forward in 2020, as a raft of new models breaks cover. Potentially the most exciting is the Formentor, which is following on from the popular practice of combining coupe-style design with SUV underpinnings.

What makes the Formentor interesting is its sharp design inside and out, and a fully-connected and bang-up-to date infotainment system that promises to allow the driver to keep their hand on the wheel more of the time – you want your Cupra to do something for you, and just tell it to. As it's a performance car, you won't be surprised by the engine lineup – you get a Golf GTE-style PHEV drivetrain with 245hp to play with, and a hotter 310hp range-topping version that shares its engine with the Volkswagen Golf R.

By Keith Adams

Kia Sorento

Kia Sorento (2020) front view

Kia is ramping up the seven-seater Sorento in 2020 with an all-new model that boasts an angular new look and a vastly updated in interior with a massive new infotainment set-up and the option of premium-style Nappa leather. There's a raft of safety equipment on this one too, such as adaptive cruise control, active lane-keeping assist and blind-spot monitoring.

The big news is that the although the main seller in the range is expected to be the powerful 2.2-litre diesel, there is now the option of a 1.6-litre hybrid. That one's not confirmed for the UK yet, but given the growing poularity of hybrids, don't bet against it being added to the range – if not at launch, more than likely just after.

Land Rover Defender

2020 Land Rover Defender

The original Defender is still sorely missed, but this all-new replacement is out now, and finding its way onto the roads near you. 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 as you'd expect, 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

Mercedes-Benz GLA

Mercedes-Benz GLA (2020) side view, driving

This one should be as good as the last one was bad – the big-selling Mercedes-Benz GLA has undergone little short of a reinvention for 2020. With sleek new styling that gives it a mini-GLC look and an interior that boasts one of the most advanced instrument and infotainment set-ups you can buy, it promises to be one of the biggest hits of the year.

Available with petrol and diesel engines as well as a plug-in hybrid version, there's a GLA for just about everyone. You should start seeing these in the showrooms throughout the summer, and Mercedes-Benz is taking orders now. Get in quick, they're sure to sell out quickly.

By Keith Adams

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

Tesla Model Y

Tesla Model Y (2020) rear view, driving

The Tesla Model Y might look like a Model 3 on steroids, but this could be something of a gamechanger for the company in the UK if they can get the price and the quality right. It's based on the 2020 Parkers car of the year-winning Tesla Model 3, but you sit higher, there's a hatchback instead of a saloon-style bootlid, and there's bags of space and usability inside.

Although it doesn't really look like one, rather like the Tesla Model X, what you're looking at is an SUV. And not just that, but it's also available in seven-seat guide, making unique at this price and market sector. Like the Model 3, it'll be available in Standard and Long Range versions as well as a Performance model. The later pairing will have 300-plus miles of range, too.

By Keith Adams

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. Sadly, it's been talked about so much because it's been delayed due to various software glitches that needed fixing before launch. Volkswagen says it hits the UK showrooms before the end of 2020.

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

Hyundai i10 (2020) front view

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.

There are 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. Also avalable are a two-tone paint job, big wheels, and a peppy 1.0-litre turbo engine.

Search Hyundai i10 lease deals

By Murray Scullion

Peugeot 208

Peugeot 208 (2020) front view

Peugeot has form with small cars, and the new 208 is emerging as a car set fair to continue that legacy. Divisive styling aside, this dinky hatchback offers a wide array of engine options including a fully electric variant in the e-208. The quality and looks are very impressive and it now sets the pace in the small car sector alongside the Renault Clio.

It also features the very latest incarnation of Peugeot’s i-Cockpit interior setup, with innovative 3D-effect digital dials. These are quite a development of the setup found in the 308 and other models – whether you'll see them as a gimick or something more useful than that is down to personal preference.

By Keith Adams

Skoda Octavia

Skoda Octavia (2020) front view

The Octavia continues to march to the beat of a different drum to everyone else – and in doing so, still remains an excellent family car. Although it's based on the Golf, and uses much of its technology, the Octavia is bigger than all of those hatchbacks, yet smaller than conventional rivals such as the Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport and Ford Mondeo.

Does that mean Skoda's right and everyone else is wrong? Hardly. But as a Golf-style car with a Mondeo-sized interior, it's probably the most rational family car you can buy. The 2020 version get packed with up-to-the-minute technology and infotainment, and gets something of a visual and quality uplift. It's due in the UK during the summer, and it'll no doubt be at least as successful as its predecessor.

By Keith Adams

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