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Best Cars

Best Medium Cars for 2018

By Martin Pratt

Article 5 of 16

Medium cars are the most popular type in the UK. Thanks to our rigorous tests, we can reveal the best new and used medium cars - as well as the worst

Put us to the test

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The medium-car market is dominated by popular hatchbacks, including the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra, along with more premium models, such as the VW Golf and Audi A3. 

But while they may all be around the same size, not all medium cars are worth your money. The best medium cars are reliable, practical, safe and reasonably cheap to run. Yet the worst are much more likely to break down, or be uncomfortable or poorly designed. 

Below are the very best medium cars we've tested - models that ran the gauntlet of our lab and road tests, and scored highly enough to be Which? Best Buys. Our testing has also highlighted three medium cars you should avoid at all costs.

Only logged-in Which? members can view our recommendations below. If you’re not yet a member, you can get instant access to our tables and all of our online reviews - join Which?

Best new medium cars

Price from £28,230
Which? score 76%
Reviewed Apr 2018
Driving stability:
3 out of 53 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This latest version of the popular hatchback is truly impressive. It retains the practicality of the regular model with a great drive and plenty of space as well - great for the family. It's a well-deserved Best Buy.

Price from £22,209
Which? score 76%
Reviewed Sep 2013
Driving stability:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Model reliability 0-3 years:
5 out of 55 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

Rear seat space may be at a premium, but this upmarket medium saloon ticks the boxes in almost every other respect, and is our highest scoring medium car. However, it misses out on Best Buy status due to its involvement in recent emissions scandals.

Price from £23,314
Which? score 75%
Reviewed Mar 2014
Driving stability:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Model reliability 0-3 years:
5 out of 55 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This two-door model proves coupes needn't be impractical. It offers seating for four and a decent boot. However, it hasn't forgotten its core appeal of driver entertainment and fantastic handling.

Price from £27,848
Which? score 75%
Reviewed Mar 2014
Driving stability:
5 out of 55 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This performance hatchback doesn't ask you to compromise on quality of everyday usability for its additional performance. It's good value and seriously quick to boot.

Price from £21,100
Which? score 74%
Reviewed Dec 2012
Driving stability:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Model reliability 0-3 years:
5 out of 55 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

Despite its complicated hybrid tech, this model scores well for comfort, reliability and ease of use. It won't set your heart racing, but it's superbly refined and safe in a crash, too.

Best used medium cars

Price from £2,490
Which? score 77%
Reviewed May 2010
Driving stability:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

Hybrid technology in a conventional hatchback package. This medium car appeals with its familiarity and ease of use. A rock-solid reliability rating further boots its appeal as a used buy.

Price from £7,413
Which? score 76%
Reviewed Jan 2012
Driving stability:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Model reliability 0-3 years:
4 out of 54 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

The edgy styling may not be to all tastes and the rear visibility is nothing to write home about, but this used medium car serves up excellent load space and practicality, while being reasonably fun and economical to drive. A deserved Which? Best Buy.

Price from £5,525
Which? score 71%
Reviewed Nov 2007
Driving stability:
5 out of 55 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This excellent medium car is a joy to drive, with a premium quality to its finish and style.

Price from £6,298
Which? score 70%
Reviewed Sep 2017
Driving stability:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Model reliability 0-3 years:
5 out of 55 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This hatchback was the first battery electric car with true mainstream appeal. Demanding little compromise over a conventional hatchback (aside from needing charging), it's proved to be the model that's convinced many to make the shift to emissions-free motoring.

Price from £5,851
Which? score 70%
Reviewed Jun 2010
Driving stability:
3 out of 53 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

A uniquely sporting take on the hybrid hatchback. We can this model's stiff ride thanks to its involving driving experience.

Not found the car for you? Go straight to all our medium car reviews.

And the three medium cars to avoid

Medium cars need to be jacks of all trades: great family cars, with space for a pushchair and a fortnight's luggage, but compact enough to park easily in town. They should be easy to drive, comfortable and smooth - all while being cheap to run. Our testing has found medium cars that are master of one or more of these desirable traits, while some don't manage any.

By their very nature, medium cars should be more spacious than small ones. While most models have plenty of room in the front, some are cramped in the rear, while headroom and legroom can leave a lot to be desired. We use human-sized dummies to measure exactly how much room there is in every seat in a car. 

People's high expectations of medium cars extend to how cheap they are to run. A manufacturer's claimed mpg is usually high, and almost always too good to be true. We conduct our own fuel-economy tests, so you get an accurate figure, and will know exactly how much the cars on your shortlist will cost you to run.

Here are the models you should steer clear of, to avoid disappointment when buying a new or used medium car.

Only logged-in Which? members can view our medium cars to avoid, below. If you’re not yet a member, you can get instant access to this and all of our online reviews - join Which?

Medium cars to avoid

Price from £6,498
Which? score 45%
Reviewed Aug 2008
Seat comfort:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Seat space:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Boot space:
3 out of 53 out of 5
Euro NCAP:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

You'd expect a car with this level of sporting pedigree to be fun behind the wheel. However it's poor to drive, with sloppy directional stability. The interior is rather low-rent too.

Price from £19,016
Which? score 45%
Reviewed Feb 2018
Seat comfort:
3 out of 53 out of 5
Ride quality:
3 out of 53 out of 5
Seat space:
4 out of 54 out of 5
Boot space:
2 out of 52 out of 5
Euro NCAP:
3 out of 53 out of 5
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

It's easy to be seduced by this model's appealing styling and rorty petrol engines. However, its talents really are just skin deep. It's not particularly refined or spacious in the back, and its latest Euro NCAP assessment saw it awarded just three stars for safety. You'd be better off with a newer Best Buy medium car instead.

We test cars more thoroughly than anyone else

Our tests go further than those carried out by other organisations. And because Which? is independent and doesn't accept advertising or freebies, you can trust our reviews to give you the full, honest and impartial truth about every car we test.

Each car we review is subjected to more than 100 individual tests in a lab, on a test track, and on real roads – and we really clock up the miles, driving around 500 miles in every car we test.

Testing in controlled lab conditions means the results we collect are directly comparable between different cars, helping us determine exactly which models are better and why, and helping you find the perfect car for your needs

To tell you which cars are likely to prove reliable for years to come, we also gather feedback from thousands of UK car owners through the Which? Car Survey, using it to generate detailed reliability ratings for the cars we test.

To take the guesswork out of choosing your next car, join Which? and you'll receive access to all our expert reviews and advice.

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