Carmakers, look away now. Members of the Which? Car team have nominated their best and worst new cars of 2011 – with some surprising results.
Yes, the Range Rover Evoque gets yet another accolade for its trophy cabinet, but it’s an empty Christmas stocking for reader favourites Honda and Lexus.
And who would have thought the humble Kia Picanto could win over one of our car experts so convincingly?
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Best cars of 2011
Range Rover Evoque – Claire Evans
There’s been a huge amount of hype about the Evoque – so much so that you’d have had to live on the moon not to have noticed it. And it’s all been rather gushing, so I’d have been happy to have stood out from the crowd and slated it.
But I can’t because it is a superb machine with remarkably refined on-road manners, backed up by modern, efficient engines, head-turning looks and a fairly respectable price. Full lab test results are due soon – let’s hope it can beat Audi and BMW at their own game.
Kia Picanto – Tim Pitt
My favourite car of 2011? The BMW 1 Series M Coupé – no question. But the Bavarians only brought 450 to the UK and they’re all sold, so here’s something decidedly more down-to-earth: the Kia Picanto.
This year, Kia leapfrogged its rivals straight to the top of the city car class. The pint-sized Picanto won’t win plaudits from petrolheads, but it’s one of the most practical, safe and well-made cars that not-much money can buy. Factor-in a seven-year warranty and suddenly that Fiat 500 starts to look very pricey.
So, 68bhp Picanto versus 335bhp 1 Series M? Maybe slow and steady wins the race after all.
Worst cars of 2011
Lexus CT 200h – Richard Headland
While the CT 200h may not go down in history as the worst car launched in 2011, it certainly flew wide of the mark. I had high hopes for the baby Lexus with its hybrid engine, but the reality left me wondering how it ever got past Lexus’s notoriously exacting engineers.
The jarring ride was the most unpleasant surprise, followed closely by the cramped cabin and a CVT automatic gearbox, which makes the revs scream as the car struggles (and fails) to achieve its sporting pretensions.
For me, the £23k+ price tag feels impossible to justify. It’s a pity, because I think there is a market for a smaller, greener Lexus – just not this one.
Honda Civic – David Evans
It’s not that the 2012 Civic is a bad car; it’s more a case of huge disappointment that obvious issues with the old model haven’t been rectified. The back window spoiler, for example, which hindered rearward vision, has been retained and still restricts the view.
The poor ride quality has been improved, but not to the level of direct competitors, and it’s still not as good to drive as the Civic of two generations ago. Our only hope is that the outgoing car’s shaky reliability has been boosted to the level of other Hondas like the Jazz and Accord. Look out for a full test of the Civic soon.