How we test cars

Test lab

Tested by us, rated by you

Our road testers scrutinise around 120 cars every year, subjecting each one to more than 900 miles of road testing and hours of evaluations in the laboratory during our 320-point test. Their observations and recorded measurements, including real-life mpg and emission figures, are used to compile the report and calculate the Which? verdict for each car.

However, a great car must do much more than excel in our road tests. It needs to impress real owners, too. The results of the annual Which? Car Survey reveal exactly what you think of your cars. Your responses help produce unique reliability and owner satisfaction ratings that sit alongside the Which? verdict, giving you a comprehensive guide to each model. 

We prioritise testing mainstream cars because that's what most of you buy. However, we do cover the full market, from city cars to sports cars, and we tailor our ratings to the requirements of each class.

Take out a £1 trial subscription to Which? and find out which Best Buy cars we recommend, and the Don't Buy cars you should avoid.

How we test cars video


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Testing cars on the road

We attend launch events for some of the most important cars to Which? members. Attending these events gives us the opportunity to publish out initial thoughts and early verdict on a car before we've had the opportunity to get them into our lest lab for the full suite of tests. We publish reports in the form of First Drive articles, which often have videos. An example is the Hyundai Ioniq.

2011 Mini swerve test

Each car we road test is driven on all types of road, including B roads, A roads, motorways and town/city routes. We assess everything from the ride comfort to visibility, seat space, boot capacity and handling.

Testing cars in the lab

After we’ve had hands-on experience with a car, we send it to our lab. There, we simulate the real conditions of driving on our rolling road. Large industrial fans replicate wind resistance, and throughout the test we assess performance, fuel economy and much, much more. Find out more about how we test cars.

We also measure braking, noise, interior space, all-round visibility and air-con performance.

Outside on the test track, we conduct an avoidance test, swerving around cones placed in the exact same position every time. The assessment also evaluates the stability control (ESC) intervention to stabilise the car.

Which? avoidance test video

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