We’ve analysed our expert car reviews to discover which models have been attracting the most attention in 2018. Over the past year, we’ve discovered that demand is surging for larger cars. One SUV in particular stands out – step forward, the Skoda Karoq.
SUVs, with their spacious interiors and higher ride heights, command three of our top five spots – including the Karoq in pole position. However, size isn’t everything, as two small cars also feature in our round-up.
But bear in mind that popularity has no bearing on whether a car is a Best Buy. Our expert lab tests expose cars that are inefficient, chuck out high levels of emissions in our stringent tests, or are simply awful to drive.
Many cars have drawbacks, and one of our top five has pretty dire reliability, according to our annual survey of owners.
- One in five people who own a petrol version of this car aged 0-3 experienced a breakdown.
- For older diesel models aged 3-8, this rose to a staggering quarter of all owners.
Read on for our most popular five cars of 2018 so far, and follow the links to our reviews to discover whether or not their popularity is justified.
Want our top, independent recommendations? See our top cars to buy in 2019.
1. Skoda Karoq (from £20,389)
As with last year, an SUV also came out on top in the popularity stakes. This year it’s the Skoda Karoq, rather than the Nissan Qashqai.
The Karoq is available as either front-wheel drive or a 4×4. It’s well equipped, with even the entry-level SE coming with LED rear lights and dual-zone climate control.
You also get a decent level of safety equipment as standard. So it’s no surprise that the Skoda Karoq scored the maximum five stars in Euro NCAP’s safety tests in 2017.
But is it practical to use and great to drive, and is it really better than the Nissan Qashqai? See our definitive Skoda Karoq review.
2. Nissan Qashqai (from £19,595)
The Nissan Qashqai has become a beloved UK favourite in recent years, and is the fourth bestselling car in the UK*.
Launched in 2014 and given a facelift in 2017, this is the second generation of a Nissan that’s sold millions in the UK.
Every major manufacturer took note, launching competitor SUVs in its wake. Rivals include the Volkswagen Tiguan (scroll down to read more about it), Skoda Karoq and Ford Kuga.
The Qashqai is loved for its high riding position and roomy cabin. A 2017 update added a better-quality interior, even more safety tech (you can find out more about this in the video in our review) and claimed improvements to driving performance.
Find out how this car performed in our lab tests, and discover whether it’s a car you can rely on – see our comprehensive Nissan Qashqai review.
3. Honda Jazz (from £13,624)
The Honda Jazz is a long-time favourite of those looking for a practical small car. It has a surprisingly huge amount of interior space that belies its small exterior dimensions.
Honda’s magic seat system allows you to carry an enormous amount of luggage when necessary, or the full five passengers. You can flip up the rear bench seat to create an extra storage space behind the front seats, in addition to the boot.
At launch, there was only one engine: a 1.3-litre petrol. This has now been joined by a 1.5-litre Sport model, and you can find out more about it in the video in our review.
Is the Jazz fun, efficient and safe to drive? Find out whether it’s worth buying in our expert Honda Jazz review.
4. Ford Fiesta (from £13,065)
The UK’s bestselling car for many years, the Ford Fiesta has come to define the market for small hatchbacks.
2017 saw Ford release the seventh (yes, seventh) generation of this car.
With prices starting from an affordable £13,065, the Fiesta is available with three or five doors. There are six engines to choose from, and a wide selection of trim levels.
These range from the entry-level Style to the tech-packed Titanium X and indulgent Vignale, with its panoramic sunroof and leather seats. Many choose the mid-range Zetec, with its heated windscreen and cruise control.
Popularity doesn’t guarantee value for money. Is this really the best small car money can buy? We put it to the test – see our extensive Ford Fiesta review.
5. Volkswagen Tiguan (from £21,635)
A popular choice for more than a decade, Volkswagen’s first compact SUV is now in its second generation.
Rejecting the more flashy styling of rivals, the Tiguan favours a more discreet look and upmarket feel – with a higher price to match.
There are five trim levels, but all get air conditioning, automatic lights and wipers, autonomous emergency braking, DAB radio and an 8-inch colour touchscreen.
Could this be the smart choice of SUV? Find out whether it’s a reliable, practical drive with great fuel economy in our thorough Volkswagen Tiguan review.
*(Sales data from SMMT)