Whether you’re looking for a particular class of new car or browsing a wider range of body styles and price ranges, it helps to know which of the many new car models on the market are the leaders in their respective classes.
This is especially the case in ultra-competitive categories with a large number of different models sold in huge quantities. Other classes may have a smaller number of participants, but if those models are all competent and comparable, we can tell you which one has the edge over its rivals.
Drivers looking for something practical and inexpensive to drive with a rear seat that can be used occasionally may be tempted by a city car or supermini. Those wanting more space are just as likely to look to compact family cars as they are to small or mid-sized SUVs.
There are also cars that cater to more specific needs: compact executive models are often suitable for people on business trips, while sports cars are aimed at motorists looking for thrills.
Here we’ve set out which cars are winning the gold medal in a range of popular classes in the UK new car market, so you can compare as many cars as you like and see which of the best is right for you.
Best new cars to own by class
There are many ways consumers can use Driver Power’s survey data, but almost everyone compares cars within their respective classes before buying.
That’s why the Driver Power survey class results are so revealing, but there are plenty of other benefits to looking at the data this way. For example, while it was already clear how effectively Kia has managed to push its way into the value space with its range of small family cars, the fact that it is now completing the Driver Power survey with an SUV should show European automakers – if they had some doubt – that there may not be much future in their flight to more expensive products.
As European cars become more expensive and ‘premium’, there will be more room for value-oriented brands to get a better deal. Of the 12 most satisfying cars to own in the ambitious small SUV class, five are already Korean. So far, only one Korean model has made it into the top 10 of large SUVs, but for how long?
Our poll also confirms SUV’s stranglehold on the wider market. With eight of the top 10 most satisfying cars as SUVs, it’s clear that buying a car is much more than a fashion statement, regardless of efficiency concerns.
|Best city car||Kia Picanto|
|best super mini||Kia Rio|
|Best compact family car||Kia Ceed|
|Best premium compact family car||Mercedes A-Class|
|Best executive car||Tesla Model 3|
|Best small SUV||Kia XCeed|
|Best premium small SUV||Volvo XC40|
|Best Medium or Large SUV||Mazda CX-5|
|Best premium medium or large SUV||Jaguar F-Pace|
Best City Car: Kia Picanto
We have regularly praised the smallest car in the Kia range and our confidence in its capabilities has been matched by owner loyalty. The Picanto retained the title in the city car class after last year’s win, and by a larger margin than its supermini sibling in Rio.
The Picanto beat the Toyota Aygo Mk2, second in its class, by three percent. The Hyundai i10 was a close third, and while all three cars scored well, it was a trio of top-10 results in the value, mpg and running costs categories that helped the Picanto win its class and finish 15th overall in the survey to obtain .
Low points, unsurprisingly for a city car, were practicality and luggage space.
Best Supermini: Kia Rio
The supermini class is one of the hardest-fought in the Driver Power survey, but thanks to the Kia Rio’s classification, it became best in class for the second year in a row.
Its overall score of 92.18 percent was a clear 1.5 point ahead of the Rio’s closest rival, the MINI hatch, which led the next group with differences usually measured in tenths of a percent. The Kia may not have taken individual category wins, but a couple of fourths for mpg and running costs, fifth for interior and sixth for reliability and value set the tone.
The worst rankings were for engine and gearbox plus ride and handling, but even here owners still placed the Rio 15th and 10th respectively.
Best Compact Family Car: Kia Ceed
Another repeat of the success in the 2021 category is the Kia Ceed, whose owners voted for another class win this year.
By finishing 16th in the survey, the Ceed beat the competition from the SEAT Leon in second place (29th overall) and the Toyota Corolla in third place (38th overall).
Again, the Ceed delivered a decent range of scores across the board, with owners predictably appreciating the car’s value and reliability. But they also rated the Ceed highly in the exterior, usability and trunk categories. As with the Kia Rio and Picanto, it is the powertrains that score the lowest on satisfaction; in this case 65th of the top 75 cars.
Best Premium Compact Family Car: Mercedes A-Class
The Mercedes A-Class is another Driver Power favorite and repeats its honor for 2021. Once again, Mercedes’ achievements led owners to rate it higher than its rivals in the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3.
But despite this class win, the A-Class took only 30th place out of 75 cars in our published results. That was way ahead of the BMW and Audi, suggesting that owners in the premium category don’t feel as much love for their car as those who shop on the cheap side of the market. Do higher prices also mean higher expectations?
The A-Class was ninth for its interior, and the lowest was for ride and handling, at 50th. The BMW 1 Series was just the frontrunner there and was in 46th place.
Best Executive Car: Tesla Model 3
The Mercedes E-Class topped the executive model poll in 2021, but Tesla owners turned the tables on established premium brands this year. The E-Class was rated sixth in its class, with the BMW 3 and 5 Series, plus Audi’s A4 and A5 models all outperforming last year’s class winner.
While the BMW 3 Series came the closest to beating the Tesla from its top spot, with an overall ranking of 32nd out of 75 cars in the survey, the BMW was a little off the Tesla’s impressive ninth place in the survey. in general. That said, the Model 3 had a mixed bag of results, winning in both engine and gearbox, plus mpg and running costs, but finished 48th for value and 73rd for exterior.
Established manufacturers bringing electrified rivals to the new car market will be pleased to find that they are still competitive in more traditional areas.
Best Small SUV: Kia XCeed
Nothing beats the success of Kia’s small SUV in its class, which isn’t surprising given that we’ve hailed the model as an overall winner in the 2022 Driver Power survey.
We’ve already seen the XCeed break the trend for Kia with an overall top score in the handling and handling category and 13th overall for its engine and gearbox. That’s also the XCeed’s least impressive category rating, which itself is impressive.
In its class, the Hyundai Kona was closest to the XCeed, finishing fourth overall, closely followed by the Kia Niro (12th), Dacia Duster Mk2 (14th) and 2008 Peugeot Mk2 (17th). The Renault Captur finished in 31st place overall.
Best Premium Small SUV: Volvo XC40
Say hello once again to the Volvo XC40, which has cemented its position at the top of the class after a similar win in last year’s Driver Power new car survey.
This year, the XC40 (23rd overall) beat the MINI Countryman (36th) to second in the class, followed by the Audi Q3 Mk2 (43rd) and Range Rover Evoque Mk2 (53rd). That’s a high-quality field, but there’s some distance between the contenders when it comes to customer satisfaction, according to this survey.
Owners of the Volvo XC40 voted it a class win with impressive top 10 scores for usability and boot space, interior and safety. Exterior and reliability are also very highly rated, but owners aren’t too happy with value or mpg and running costs, where the XC40 rated 54th and 64th of the top 75 cars in the survey.
Best Mid-Sized or Large SUV: Mazda CX-5
Here’s another class repeat win, this time for Mazda’s CX-5 SUV, which has managed to hold on to its Mid-Large SUV title despite some very stiff competition.
Mazda’s SUV also did it in style, thanks to a second place overall in the 2022 Driver Power survey. Second in this class was the Skoda Kodiaq (fifth overall), but in fact larger SUVs accounted for six of the top 10 cars in this year’s survey, proving that owners love these large family cars.
The Mazda CX-5 took the class win thanks to excellent scores across the board, taking second place for value, third place for reliability and fourth place for exterior. The worst result was a solid 25th for mpg and running costs.
Best Premium Mid-Size or Large SUV: Jaguar F-Pace
We haven’t named a winner in this class in 2021 because we don’t differentiate premium cars from more mainstream cars. For 2022, we’ve done just that, and it’s interesting to see the Jaguar F-Pace at the top of the pile.
He beat rivals such as the Mercedes GLC in second place, the Land Rover Discovery Sport in third place and the Volvo XC60 in fourth place, all ahead of the BMW X3 and X5. If you compare the overall scores of these models, the results are even more stark; while the F-Pace just scraped into our top 20 overall, the BMW X3 and X5 were 71st and 74th, respectively.
Owners rated the Jag highest for ride and handling, where it finished fourth. Practicality and trunk space were rated seventh, and engine and gearbox in tenth place. Value was a respectable 32nd, but mpg and running costs were ranked less well, at 66th.
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