Revealed: 2018’s best new cars by class, voted for by drivers

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Author: | Updated: 19 Apr 2018 16:21

The results of Auto Express’s 2018 Driver Power Survey are in, with over 80,000 drivers taking part and giving feedback about their own vehicle.

Now in its 16th year, the survey always offers a great insight into what it’s really like to live with certain cars on a day-to-day basis and, whether supermini or sports car, all are measured by the same metrics, with nine judging categories taken into account.

Peugeot's 3008 topped the survey this year.

The overall winner for 2018 was the impressive Peugeot 3008 SUV above. However, once all the data is collated it’s also possible to pick out the top performers by class, and that’s exactly what Auto Express has done.

We’ve taken a closer look at which cars came out top in all the key segments, and also provided a handy link to some very attractive personal lease deals for each…

Best city car – Toyota Aygo

Toyota Aygo

Review: Toyota Aygo

It’s the second time Toyota’s plucky Aygo has taken the best city car segment in Auto Express’s Driver Power survey. Despite it being almost identical to the Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108, drivers of the Toyota found it to be the best-looking of the trio, while it scored highly for its infotainment and reliability, too.

Best supermini – Nissan Micra


The latest Nissan Micra has to be one of the biggest turnarounds in the segment in recent years, and thanks to its stand-out design, high quality and tech-filled interior, it more than earns its place. However, Micra drivers also scored the supermini highly when it came to ride and handling, meaning it outdoes rivals like the Skoda Fabia and Peugeot 208.

Best premium small car – Audi A1

Audi A1

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The Audi A1 managed to fend off the likes of the Fiat 500 and Mini, despite both scoring higher in areas such as build quality and ride and handling. Why? It’s all down to the A1’s in-car technology, as well as the fact it offers that extra bit of practicality over those rivals, too.

Best family compact car – Toyota Prius

Toyota Prius

The ultimate hybrid rumble: Toyota Prius vs Hyundai Ioniq vs Toyota C-HR vs Kia Niro

The Toyota Prius remains king of the hybrids, but according to the Driver Power survey it’s king of small family cars in general too. Considering it had to fend off the likes of the Golf and Focus for this place, it’s an impressive accolade. Little surprise that economy and running costs were cited as top reasons for the Prius’s popularity, as well as its safety rating.

Best family car – Mazda 6

Mazda 6

Updated Mazda 6: what you need to know

Bet you forgot the Mazda 6 existed didn’t you? It’s never been as popular as the Mondeo or Insignia, but when it comes to practicality, it outdoes them both according to the Driver Power Survey. On the downside, some drivers complained about the infotainment system and running costs.

Best MPV – Toyota Verso

Toyota Verso

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MPVs have had a difficult time of it in recent years, what with consumers now favouring high-riding SUVs. As was recently proved though, MPVs still generally trump pseudo-off-roaders when it comes to practicality, and the Toyota Verso would appear to be the most practical of them all.

Best small SUV – Kia Niro

Kia Niro

Reviews: Kia Niro / All-new Kia Niro Plug-in

Courtesy of a hybrid drivetrain, a quality interior and high equipment levels, Kia’s Niro comes out top in this hotly contested segment. Those who took part said it was the cheaper running costs which they liked most, with the Kia outdoing the Toyota C-HR and Audi Q2 on that front.

Best mid-size SUV – Peugeot 3008

Peugeot 3008

First drive review: Peugeot 3008

Not only does the Peugeot 3008 take home the mid-size SUV category; it topped the list of the Driver Power Survey itself. While some respondents wanted a larger engine range, drivers loved the classy interior and stand-out design, ensuring it ranked higher than rivals like the Kia Sportage and Nissan Qashqai.

Best large SUV – Kia Sorento

Kia Sorento

Review: Kia Sorento

Another Kia in an SUV segment – this time at the other end of the scale. The Kia Sorento is a seven-seat SUV, so it’s no surprise that space and practicality is what won it the accolade. It scored highly in the quality and technology stakes too, only slightly let down by the high running costs of its 2.2-litre diesel engine.

Best premium mid-size SUV – Lexus NX

Lexus NX

Find Lexus NX lease deals

Lexus always scores highly in these kind of surveys, usually thanks to their impeccable build quality and reliability, high-tech drivetrains and spacious interiors. All that applies to the Lexus NX, with that unique exterior design pushing it above rivals like the Range Rover Evoque.

Best premium large SUV – Lexus RX

Lexus RX

Find Lexus RX lease deals

Want all of the above qualities wrapped up in a slightly larger package? Look no further than the NX’s larger sibling – the RX. It actually ranked slightly higher than the smaller car thanks to a more impressive score for infotainment, connectivity and electrics.

Best compact executive car – Alfa Romeo Giulia

Alfa Romeo Giulia

Five things you need to know about the Alfa Romeo Giulia

The Alfa Romeo Giulia is a highly lauded car that is seemingly adored by all who drive it. It managed to beat the Germans in this class thanks to its handling characteristics and of course its gorgeous looks. It did however, score quite poorly for reliability, with 40% of drivers reporting at least one fault over the last 12 months.

Best executive car – BM5 5 Series


When it comes to the larger exec cars, the Germans still have it in the bag. Specifically, it’s BMW’s latest 5 Series that shone through, with practicality, technology and its interior scoring highest.

Best electric car – Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf (outgoing)

Read all about the new Nissan Leaf here

There might be a new one on the market, but the outgoing Leaf is still proving mighty popular thanks to its surprisingly quick drivetrain, impressive reliability score and of course, super-low running costs.

Best roadster – Mazda MX-5

Mazda MX-5

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In its latest form, the Mazda MX-5 is fun, frugal and extremely well-built. With all the classic roadster hallmarks, its high scores for handling, steering and ride quality are hardly a surprise, as are its ridiculously low score for practicality.

Best sports car – BMW 2 Series

BMW 2 Series

Everything you need to know about the 2 Series

The BMW 2 Series came out top in the sports car class thanks to its impressive array of engines and gearboxes. However, its infotainment and connectivity tech is what put it a cut above the others.

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