Want to buy a car? Yes, actually buy one, with money? ShortList’s Andrew Dickens picks out the latest and greatest options on the market
Best For Road Trips
Range Rover Evoque
The Evoque’s immense popularity has almost single-handedly created 1,000 jobs at Land Rover, and its success has certainly been well earned. Available in both a three-door and five-door model, it’s a car that is beautiful to look at, great to drive, solid and capable of eking out more than 50mpg, making it the ideal coast-to-coast car. Especially if you’re going to be needing plenty of room for luggage, backseat naps and, of course, vast quantities of snacks.
Fast, economical and really, really good looking. You’ll leave Smokey and the Bandit for dead.
A near-perfect drive and the most fun you can have on mountain roads for the money.
BeST FOR new DADS
Immensely practical, with a spacious boot and no central pillars, providing extremely easy access. It’s also a good drive, with EcoBoost technology giving the 1-litre version 1.6-litre performance alongside a wallet-comforting 57mpg.
Ford Mondeo Estate
The Mondeo, in any guise, is near-perfect, but, if undecided, go for a diesel estate.
What’s in a name? A one-word review, that’s what. Also available as an estate.
Best for the bank balance
With a bit of shopping around, you can pick up a new i10 and get change from £8,000 – and you can get more than 60mpg, making it a car for these copper-counting times. But it’s not all about money, it’s a good drive, and the entry-level model has air-conditioning, four airbags and an iPod connection.
Volkswagen finally applies its famed engineering to a city car. A potential future classic.
Skoda Octavia Estate
Economical doesn’t have to equal small, as this roomy, 45mpg estate for around £15,000 shows.
BeST FOR YOUR GREEN CREDENTIALS
Popular preconceptions about electric cars concern power (that they pack the punch of a daddy longlegs) and the hassle of charging. The Ampera thwarts both prejudices. From the sci-fi power up noise to the unique Extended Range Mode – getting 30-50 miles from the battery before switching to a petrol-powered generator for an extra 360 – it’s a game-changing drive.
This model is small, beautiful, cheap and fully electric, and also has an impressive 130-mile battery cycle in optimum conditions.
Toyota Prius Plug-In
Similar to the standard Prius, but chargeable, thus nearly doubling your miles per gallon.
Best ‘reimagining’ of a classic
Minis not only hold more people and things than they used to, by virtue of being bigger than they were, but they also hold their value. Since the marque was reborn in 2001, the design has become a modern classic. This year, the coupé version was launched, but, being optimistic we’re going for the open-topped roadster.
This new model has been based on the Golf and is much better than the last incarnation, especially in the looks department.
Not new, but still the most stylish small car around. If you’re feeling particularly self-confident, get the two-tone Abarth version.
The best for executive edge
BMW 3 Series
If we’d put any other car than the 3 Series in this slot, we might as well have claimed the Earth was flat, too. It’s the best executive car and has been for some time. Pick one to suit, but if you want something to fantasise about during PowerPoint presentations, try the 328i, combining an acceleration of 0-60mph in 5.7 seconds and 44mpg.
Alfa Romeo 159
Driving to work in an Alfa Romeo is pretty much the motoring equivalent of never wearing a tie to the office.
The 4.2-litre V8 version is perfect for heavy mileage and saying things like “I just parked the Jag outside”.