If you’re in the market for a new car, you first have to consider what’s the right car for you – you may well have your eyes on a sporty little roadster, but can you really justify packing the kids in a trailer because your car has no back seat?
Whatever car you’re after though, you’ll no doubt want to pick up the best in class, budget permitting, so to give you an idea of what’s out there here’s a run-down of the best cars in four of the most popular categories.
Sports car – Porsche Boxster £39,350
The Porsche Boxster was almost universally unloved when it first came out, and dubbed the ‘poor-man’s Porsche’ it wasn’t the best-looking of roadsters. Its back end was almost as long as its front, giving the car a weird symmetrical look.
Porsche has since given the Boxster a complete redesign and not only does it look more appealing, more closely resembling its more expensive stablemates, it’s reasonably priced and even the base model feels every bit as exclusive as a Porsche should.
And while the 261bhp it delivers is matched by some of the new hot hatches on the block, it can hit 0-60mph in just 5.8 seconds, deliver a top speed of 164mph and its ultra-responsive handling make it the perfect car for the UK’s winding roads.
It also delivers a pretty impressive TRUE MPG of 34.9mpg – not that fuel economy will matter much if you’re in the market for a sports car.
Family car – Skoda Octavia £17,660
Q: “What do you call a Skoda with no wheels?”
A: “A skip!”
Skoda has come a long way from the days when it, along with the much-maligned Lada, was the butt of all the motoring jokes – and if you’re after a family car, you could do a lot worse than put your money into an Octavia.
This car offers up a perfect mix of practicality, quality and affordability – the Octavia 1.2 TSI 105 SE model has fuel economy figures of 58mpg, but its true MPG (taken from real driving conditions) is 47.7mpg. The interior and driving position are as good as you’d find a Passat, its more expensive sister model.
And if you’ve a small army and all its supplies to ferry around, its 590-litre boot is bigger than anything else in this class.
If you’re after an off-roader, you can’t really look much further than a Range Rover.
As well as offering the most striking looks of any SUV and superb handling, the Pure Tech packs some tidy gadgets such as front parking sensors, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, satnav and a heated windscreen – something you’ll wonder how you ever managed without once the cold mornings set in.
On the downside, its not the most practical of SUVs and its TRUE MPG is a slightly disappointing 38.3mpg – for comparison, the Nissan Qashqai offers 54.7mpg – but its looks, handling and high re-sale value means this is as good an off-road investment as you can get.
Business – BMW 520d SE £33,515
No surprises for the make and model of the best in business class as the BMW 5-series has all but made the executive market its own and has the awards to prove it.
And so well equipped is the 5-series – coming with leather interior and built-in satnav as standard – it actually works out at better value than its smaller rivals, and its low emissions means that even if you’re a higher rate tax payer (40%) you’ll still only incur company car tax costs of £190 a month.
As far as performance goes, it makes 0-60mph in 7.7 seconds, has a top speed of 145mph and a fuel economy of 68.9mph (approach economy figures with a bit of caution though as the TRUE MPG figures aren’t available) and its eight-speed automatic transmission is as good as it gets – perfect for motorway overtaking and cruising.