The Sunday Times’ Cars of the Year have been revealed. The hotlist boasts a range of categories including SUVs, city cars, hot hatches and luxury models, all shortlisted by a panel of expert road testers and writers.
To be in with a chance of taking the crown, the cars in question had to have gone on sale between 1st June 2019 and 31st May 2020, leaving a sizable catalogue of worthy contenders.
So, let’s dive straight in and take a closer look at a handful of the champions and what sets them apart from the rest.
Small SUV Of The Year: Ford Puma
Sportier than most of its competitors, the Ford Puma catapulted to fame as a small coupe in the ’90s that didn’t quite drive the sales.
Fast forward 20 years and this nippy 1.0-litre is ticking all the boxes thanks to its mix of fuel economy and low CO2 emissions.
Quicker than the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, the entry-level compact SUV makes for an agile ride with soft suspension and better body control, although some road noise and vibration spoils motorway driving a little.
Inside, you’ll find comfort from the built-in massaging function along with adjustable lumbar support, making for snug quarters. The interior is complete with a thick glossy dashboard, home to the 8” touchscreen infotainment system, featuring built-in sat-nav, USB ports and DAB radio.
One major highlight of the Puma has to be the bags of room in the boot for such a close-packed build. You’ll find space for six carry-on cases within the main compartment. And it doesn’t stop there. Lift the boot base and you’ll find room for a further 2 cases.
It really is a great all-round small SUV.
- 0-60 mph in 9.5 seconds
- 17” alloy wheels on entry-level
- Rear parking sensors as standard
- Cheaper than its small SUV competitors
Family SUV Of The Year: Volvo XC90 Recharge T8
The best plug-in hybrid SUV on the market. Offering much more than just low emissions and fuel savings, the Volvo XC90 Recharge T8 is bursting at the seams with features and equipment.
It’s no slouch either. With a 2.0-litre petrol engine and electric motor combining to create 390bhp, the big SUV will shift. There’s plenty of grip in the corners too.
But the XC90 isn’t really made for setting blistering lap times. It’s more focused on providing a comfortable everyday drive for family life.
The interior undoubtedly looks the part. With leather detailing and a centre touchscreen brimming with technology, from Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to sat-nav and plenty in between, the XC90’s cabin oozes luxury.
Overall, the combination of technology, performance, luxury and practicality through its space and seven seats means the XC90 is truly untouchable in the family SUV class.
- 0-62 mph in 5.8 seconds
- 19” alloy wheels on entry-level
- Seven seats as standard
- Heated leather seats
Value Car Of The Year: Volkswagen UP! GTI
It’s no surprise this pocket rocket is a descendant of the original Golf GTI. Its1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine has an impressive amount of power in low gears and on the go.
The sports suspension drops the ride height by 15mm compared to the normal car, allowing you to throw its force around the road as the car impressively carries its frame through the corners
Pair this with ultra-smooth gear changes, this city car is more alert than any other of its size.
Leather trim and tartan upholstery reside within the sleek interior of the UP! GTI, a well-placed nod to the original Golf. On top of that, the touchscreen infotainment system presents a smartphone dock – making your phone the central device for all music and navigation apps, helping you save weight and money on a big, heavy infotainment system.
The UP’s small form means you’ll have no trouble squeezing into those smaller parking spaces and it’s all-round build makes it one of the cheapest strides into hot-hatch status.
Combine this with the low insurance and affordable running costs, it’s easy to see why this model has scooped the title for Value Car of the Year.
- 0-62 mph in 8.8 seconds
- One of the cheapest hot hatches available
- Front heated seats
- Powerful turbocharged engine
Car of the Year 2020: Volkswagen Golf & Porsche Taycan Joint Award
Of course, we couldn’t finish the line-up without showcasing the big one. The Car of the Year 2020.
This year it highlighted two mega models in the shape of the Volkswagen Golf 8 and the Porsche Taycan, equally deserving the title in their own rights.
Volkswagen Golf 8
It’s been around for almost 50 years and it’s safe to say the performance and driving dynamics, along with the growth of technologies added over time, make the Golf one of the most iconic vehicles ever built.
Its constant adaptation of style, running and efficiency means it’s ever-changing to meet demand.
With three main settings: comfort, normal and sport, the Golf covers all bases with a smooth ride and light steering.
Built with the driver in mind, the interior is filled with cushioned support across the seats, central armrest and cabin trim.
The touch-sensitive dashboard houses a 10” infotainment system, spotlighting a range of helpful features, from wireless phone charging to full smartphone integration and every other extra you’d need in between.
- 0-62 mph in 8.5 seconds
- 16” alloy wheels on entry-level
- Built-in sat-nav as standard
- Competitive CO2 emissions and fuel economy
Even just by looking at this car, it’s simple to see why it nabbed the crown. Its looks are incredible.
But the performance behind this all-electric car is what really sets it apart.
Nowadays, there are plenty of electric cars on offer. But the Taycan trumps them all when it comes to all-round grip, balance and drive.
The Taycan also possesses a lavish finish throughout. MotorIt has not one but four touchscreens inside, including a central cluster displaying sat-nav, g-force and all of your other driving notifications.
The sleek exterior might give the impression that the Taycan is small inside. , But you’d be wrong. There’s plenty of space and a big enough boot for six carry-on cases.
- 0-62 mph in 4.0 seconds
- 252 miles of range
- Incredible electric performance
- Four infotainment screens