For many of us, driving has changed radically in 2020. While some are returning to their usual routines, homeworking has seen many driving much less. Others want a car to avoid public transport and for making longer journeys to visit family. So what's the best car for the job? The new Volkswagen Golf aims to build on past success, but electrified cars are now launching like confetti. Our independent lab and road tests show which cars come out top.
The Volkswagen Golf is one of the biggest car launches of 2020 - it's both Volkswagen's bestselling model and a family favourite that's a perennial top-five seller in the UK.
But maybe driving just needs something different these days. Renault hopes more fun is the answer with the all-new Megane RS hot hatch, while many other manufacturers are pushing electrified cars. This includes the pioneering Nissan Leaf, the plug-in hybrid Peugeot 508 SW PHEV and even the new luxury all-electric Mercedes EQC SUV.
Our expert tests reveal whether it's time to consider a revolution in your driving.
In some ways, the new Golf is very traditional: the exterior design is still recognisably a Golf, despite a mild tweak. There's a choice of two 2.0-litre diesel engines or two 1.5-litre petrol engines, all carried over from the previous Golf, plus a 1.0-litre petrol engine.
However, choose the most powerful petrol engine with the optional seven-speed automatic transmission and what you actually get is a mild hybrid, with a small electric motor that boosts fuel efficiency. In a hint of things to come, a plug-in hybrid Golf GTE is on the horizon for later in 2020, too.
Plus, this latest Golf has a new sweeping all-digital cabin design, with almost every button and switch removed, and operation centred on a large 10-inch dashtop touchscreen.
Is the new cabin design an iPhone-like revolution or a horribly fiddly mess? And has VW done enough to stave off the competition?
The Megane RS boasts 280hp as standard for boy racer thrills or go overboard on the 300hp 'Trophy' spec.
The Trophy version adds a limited-slip differential to improve cornering traction, stiffer suspension, anti-roll bars and plenty more toys - not to mention a louder exhaust. So you can turn the need for a practical car into something genuinely racy.
Few cars feel more like the future than the all-electric Nissan Leaf, priced to appeal to mainstream family car buyers.
2020 has seen the car get the choice of a more powerful Leaf e+ model with a larger 62kWh battery, claiming a hefty 239-mile driving range per charge.
You have three charging options:
The Ioniq large hatchback come in a variety of electric flavours to suit the needs of anyone who wants to move away from petrol and diesel.
The plug-in version could be ideal for those who do plenty of shorter distance journeys, but don't want to be limited on the occasional long distance one with a pure electric car. For those with the space to install a home charger, in theory it should have better fuel economy for short trips than a conventional hybrid.
The Peugeot 508 SW PHEV is the latest family estate car to get the plug-in treatment, and it pairs a stylish feel with lots of space for passengers and luggage.
Unlike the new VW Golf, Peugeot has resisted removing all the buttons when adding its new i-Cockpit digital dashboard system with 10-inch touchscreen, maintaining elegant-looking 'piano' shortcut keys below the touchscreen.
Roll over dirty perceptions of larger SUVs - the Mercedes EQC is the brand's first mainstream fully-electric, zero-tailpipe-emission car.
It's powered by a 80kWh battery pack and two electric motors for variable four-wheel drive, for a total power output of 300kW (or 408hp).