The new school term has started, which also means the new September registration plate is out: the 68 plate. We’ve chosen our pick of the new cars out there, to suit every taste and budget.
This supermini has been around since 2005, along with sister cars the Citroen C1 and Peugeot 107. It’s had a refresh this year and remains a great choice for young drivers and city dwellers on short commutes or shopping trips. It may not be the most funky inside, but with 69hp from its inline three-cylinder engine, and 95g/km of CO2, it’s among the most powerful and also most frugal of this class of car. If you pay for a higher spec, you’ll get Apple CarPlay on the well-designed touchscreen.
There’s a reason it’s been the UK’s best-selling car for a decade: it’s pretty much the perfect package. Small-car size, big-car handling. Ford has not skimped on the quality of its engineering, and this remains very much the driver’s choice. It also has sharp looks and tech in the form of Ford’s Sync 3 system that won’t let you down.
The Cooper S version is the best for gutsy drivers, but that will take you nearer £30,000. And anyway, the main selling points of this car belong, as usual with Mini, to the interior, which remains a joyous place to be, designed to appeal to the young and young at heart. We love the Union Flag embossed in the grey leather seats, the big LED-lit instrument dome, and the general fun of it.
It’s hard to describe how good this car is: you’ll simply have to book in for a test drive. It takes Volvo’s strengths – luxurious interior, friendly tech, big buttons, Scandinavian pale colours, upmarket materials, comfortable and quiet drive – and puts them in a small, practical, good-value package. High seating position, frugal engines and rugged character make this a winner.
We favour an estate over an SUV every day of the week, as a family car. You have a decent boot with a wide opening, room for four adults, some soft-roading capability (enough for most families who only ever visit wet grass five times a year), but better handling than a raised SUV and, in many cases, better looks. The Audi A4 Allroad is a handsome design on the outside, and you get Audi’s very handsome and useable MMI (multi-media interface – music, satnav, aircon etc to you and me) on the inside.
Yes, yes, there’s a turbocharged flat-four in it now instead of the naturally aspirated six-cylinder engine. But the GTS version of this car and the Boxster have proved that it’s not the stuff of nightmares critics said it would be. In fact, the standard Cayman, the entry-level Porsche, remains a fine two-seater sports car of the purest sort. The handling is on fire, with incredible feedback and fantastic balance. It is taut, lithe and fun, with the manual gearbox slick and fast in its changes, and that turbocharged engine… well, we’d love to know just how many customers could honestly tell the difference (not you petrolheads: real-world customers).
Although the base model seeks in just under £50,000, you’ll be wanting to go higher up the luxury tree and possibly engine size too, to the 3.0-litre V6. We ran the 2.0-litre engine for six months and when this fabulous seven-seater is fully loaded (you can carry seven adults, no problem), you want the extra pep. The Disco does it all – off-roading, status and practical family transport. Critics bemoaned the redesign and loss of the toy looks and split tailgate, but this is still a thoroughly good SUV to own.
Please, let this be what the future looks like. If we’re all going to drive electric cars as engaging, well thought-through and as cleverly executed as the I-Pace, bring on the demise of fossil fuels. Only snag is waiting until the public superchargers arrive in the UK next year, although if you’re confident you can do all your charging needs at work and home, be our guest – this is a fantastic car to own. Soft leathers smartly stitched combine with little futuristic design touches, but nothing too outlandish – this is no Tesla. Instead, it’s an electric car from a badge with sporting heritage, and it shows.
BMW’s 7-Series and Audi’s A8 are but a hair’s breadth behind the headlining Merc, but the S-class still pips them to the post in terms of sheer luxury. We love the specific “wellness” set-up which links the seats, lighting and stereo for the ultimate in relaxation. The ride remains refined beyond compare (except, perhaps, for a Roller). This is a car best enjoyed in the rear, if only for all that leg space.