Buying a car is one of the biggest investments in life. We all rely heavily on the purchase of a reliable set of wheels, but we also need to consider running costs, safety and comfort. Another important factor is efficiency, with fuel duty set to rise in 2023. The Office for Budget Responsibility reports that an increase of up to 23% may occur in the spring.
City or Small Cars
City cars are easy to park, fuel efficient and manoeuvrable. Some of the best vehicles in this range include Toyota Aygo, Fiat 500 and the VW Up. A small car is generally an easy drive, simple to control with an optimum acceleration to overtake between 30-60mph. The best small options include old favourites, the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and the Mini range.
Medium to Large Family Cars
This range optimises safety, efficiency and comfort. These vehicles need to adapt to different conditions and be easy to park in a variety of places. The best medium cars on the market are the Ford Focus, Hyundai i30 and the Honda Civic. Larger cars offer more legroom, smoother suspension as well as a roomier seating capacity. Bigger engines and fuel tanks can cope with the extra load. The forerunners in this category are the Skoda Octavia, Ford Mondeo and VW Passat.
SUVs and 4×4
The best in this category offer plenty of room, manoeuvrability and a high driving position with plenty of additional safety features. Best crossovers include the Nissan Qashqai or the Juke and the Kia Sportage. Bigger vehicles like the Honda CRV and Peugeot 3008 consistently prove themselves to be top of the range.
Electric vehicles and hybrids
Pure battery electric vehicles (BEVs) have zero CO2 emissions and are currently exempt from road tax, but that is set to change in April 2025. Even if your vehicle is exempt, you must go through the motions and ‘tax’ it on the government website. Please see www.gov.uk/vehicle-tax for details.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) currently pay a reduced road tax, but if the vehicle is worth more than £40,000 it’s subject to an annual supplement for five years, from the second time the vehicle is taxed. This means that PHEVs are now likely to cost between zero and £105 depending on emissions, then £145 per year after that.
Electric cars have matured over the past few years, and so have our driving expectations. The best cars in this category tend to come from Tesla with the Model 3 a long way ahead in terms of battery range and performance. The Kia EV6 and the Audi Q4 e-Tron are also very impressive and all three cars are priced between £40-50k. Hybrids encompass the best of both worlds. BMW 3 series and the Mercedes C-class are top performers, but the Skoda Superb iV comes in at around £28k and has an impressive 45 mile battery range.
By Emma Russell