If you’ve been putting off buying a new car during the pandemic, the delay could have worked in your favour. Lockdown restrictions haven’t held manufacturers back from launching new models and there’s a great selection of all-new cars, whatever type you’re looking for.
The latest electric cars to be put through our lab tests include the Volkswagen ID.4 – the brand’s second all-electric model – and the SUV follow up to the ID.3 hatchback, plus the Polestar 2 saloon.
For those not quite ready to ditch internal combustion, we’ve also rated the latest Hyundai Tucson hybrid. Find out in our review whether it matches its maker’s fuel economy claims.
The Nissan Qashqai – a hugely popular model in the SUV market – also returns for a third generation. It faces competition from a totally new rival in the form of the performance-oriented Cupra Formentor.
Read on to find our experts’ thoughts on all these latest models.
Best cars for 2021 – discover the best models for performance, comfort, safety and reliability
Volkswagen ID.4 (electric, 2021-), £37,825
Until now, if you wanted a larger SUV powered solely by electricity, you’ve been limited to a handful of expensive offerings from Audi and Jaguar.
VW’s new ID.4 is more affordable, but claims plenty of space for five passengers and their luggage – something that smaller EV crossovers such as the Hyundai Kona can struggle with.
Unlike some rivals, which are only available with a single motor setup, the ID.4 is available in no less than three power outputs ranging from 148hp to 204hp, as well as five different trim levels. Since launch, a high-performance GTX model has also joined the range.
Does the ID.4 address the infotainment issues we faced in its smaller sibling, the ID.3 hatchback? And is its range sufficient to get you where you need to go? Find out in our Volkswagen ID.4 review.
Polestar 2 (electric, 2020-), £39,900
Volvo’s performance brand Polestar has arrived in the UK looking for a fight with Tesla. The Polestar 2 is a large four-door saloon around the same size as its American rival, but boasts high-end suspension and a high-performance motor for increased driver appeal.
You don’t need to opt for the range-topping 408hp version to enjoy the car’s well-built and well-equipped cabin, though, and even lower-powered models aren’t what you’d call sluggish.
But does all the performance mean a thirst for energy? Find out how much it’s likely to cost you to run, in our Polestar 2 review.
Hyundai Tucson (full hybrid, 2021-), £29,931
Hyundai’s popular mid-sized SUV has been a credible family choice since it was first introduced in 2004. The latest version, launched this year, comes with a brand-new attention-grabbing design, as well as the option of petrol, plug-in hybrid or full-hybrid drivetrains, the latter of which we’ve tested.
Aside from bold new styling, the interior has been improved and the Tucson is now among the best mainstream cars for materials and build quality.
Even the lower-priced versions are decently equipped and all models are backed up by Hyundai’s five-year manufacturer warranty.
Is this the one to go for? Find out its true fuel consumption and emissions ratings in our full Hyundai Tucson hybrid review.
Cupra Formentor (PHEV, 2021-) first drive review, £36,170
The cross market is so diverse that a high-performance, plug-in hybrid (PHEV) coupé SUV is now available, should you want such a thing.
On the face of it, you might just. Cupra – Seat’s high-performance spin-off brand – offers its new Formentor SUV in a number of guises, but none come with the claimed economy figures of the PHEV version.
Plus, it’s got a hefty 245hp, which on paper at least is sufficient to give this SUV enough of a performance edge to appeal to keen drivers.
So can you have your cake and eat it? Find out in our Cupra Formentor PHEV first drive review.
Skoda Octavia Estate (2020-), £20,576
If you’re not sold on the idea of a high-riding SUV, a large estate car can offer similar practicality in a more compact package.
We’ve recently updated our review of the latest Skoda Octavia Estate to include our test of the 1.5-litre TSI petrol engine, which is available with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed twin-clutch automatic gearbox. There are also diesel and PHEV options.
Skoda has long positioned itself as a brand for families, and with its cavernous boot and generous cabin space, there’s little to suggest that it’s dropped the ball with this latest model.
Are there any chinks in its armour? Find out if this large estate comes up to scratch in terms of safety and comfort, in our Skoda Octavia Estate review.
Nissan Qashqai (2021-) first drive review, £23,535
Few cars have changed the automotive landscape in the way the Nissan Qashqai has. Its blend of SUV driving position, reasonably compact proportions and decent practicality struck a chord with buyers from the get-go – so much so that every rival manufacturer is now in on the action.
In the all-new third-generation Qashqai, Nissan is looking to re-assert its dominance. It’s off to a great start with the styling. It’s familiar and recognisable as a Qashqai, but the flat surfacing and detailing give a fresh and unique look.
The improvements continue on the inside, with soft-touch materials on most surfaces and an overall feeling of quality.
Nissan has kept an eye on usability, too – frequently accessed controls such as the heating and ventilation have proper buttons, so you won’t need to hunt through a touchscreen menu while driving.
With such a plethora of competition, the new Qashqai will have to offer more than a smart interior to be competitive. Find out if it has what it takes to stand out in our first drive Nissan Qashqai review.