The best cars of the year 2014

Nissan Qashqai wins top car award

%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%Find out which motors impressed judges at the What Car? Car of the Year Awards 2014.

The British-built Nissan Qashqai has been crowned Car of the Year 2014 at the 37th annual What Car? Awards.
It's the first time the brand has won the overall top prize.

Judges said the new Qashqai delivered first-class levels of comfort, refinement space and safety for a low cost and was the best all-rounder.

The second generation Nissan Qashqai was also named best small SUV by the magazine and Nissan also won the Reader Award for its forthcoming X-Trail, which goes on sale in the summer.

Category winners

The What Car? Awards are made up of 16 prizes for cars launched in the past 12 months. There are 14 class categories, an overall winner and a Reader's choice award.

Judges consider running costs, depreciation and safety features as well as how well a car performs compared to the rest of its class.

Below are all the winners in each category along with details of the list price for a new model.



List price

Car of the year

Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi Acenta 2WD


City car

Hyundai i10 1.0 66 SE


Small car

Ford Fiesta 1.0T 100 Ecoboost Zetec 5dr


Family car

Skoda Octavia 1.2 TSI SE


Estate car

Volkswagen Golf Estate 1.6 TDI SE Bluemotion Tech


Sports car

Porsche Boxster 2.7



Citroën Grand C4 Picasso 1.6 e-HDi 115 Exclusive



BMW 435i M Sport auto


Hot hatch

Ford Fiesta ST-2


Small SUV

Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi Acenta 2WD


Large SUV

Range Rover Sport


Executive car

Audi A3 Saloon 2.0 TDi Sport


Open-top car

Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.8 TSi S Line


Luxury car

Mercedes-Benz S350 Bluetec L SE Line


Green car

BMW i3


Reader Award*

Nissan X-Trail


*On sale in July

BMW scooped two awards. The 435i won best coupé and the new electric i3 was named best green car. Audi also had a double victory, with the A3 Saloon winning the best executive car and the A3 Cabriolet the best open-top car.

Ford picked up two awards for its new Fiestas. The 1.0T 100 Ecoboost Zetec 5-door was declared the best small car and the ST-2 the best hot hatch.

The cheapest winning car was found in the city car category, which was awarded to the Hyundai i10 1.0 66 SE. You can buy one for just over £9,000, which also gets you Hyundai's five-year warranty and roadside assistance package.

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Used cars alternatives

The What Car? Car of the Year Awards judge cars that were launched in the last 12 months and so are bound to be out of some people's price range.

Luckily What Car? also has its Used Car Awards, which showcases the top models which might suit more budgets.

Here are the winners from 2013.



Dealer price

Private price

Overall Winner

Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI SE 5dr



Small cars

Vauxhall Corsa 1.2 Design AC 5dr - 07/07



Family cars

Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI SE 5dr - '10/10



Estate cars

Mazda 6 Estate 2.2D 163 TS2 - '09/09




Ford S-Max 2.0 TDCi Zetec - '09/09




Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi Acenta - '07/07



Executive & luxury cars

BMW 320d SE - '07/57



Nearly new cars

Vauxhall Astra 1.6i Exclusiv - '12/12



Fun cars

Renault Clio Renaultsport 200 Cup - '09/09



Manufacturer Award




The Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI SE 5-door was named the best used car overall. Judges were impressed with the high-quality look and feel of the interior, spacious cabin, safety features and good build quality. It's cheap to run and at £8,700 is within the reach of most family budgets.

However, Vauxhall – which scooped two awards as best used small car and best nearly new car – was named top manufacturer for used cars in 2013.

Vauxhalls are readily available and depreciate quickly so you can get them fairly cheap used. The Vauxhall Corsa 1.2 Design AC 5-door, for example, can be found for just £3,600. But despite the bargain price tag you get good value for money with all the technology and safety features of rivals.

Vauxhall's Network Q approved used scheme was praised by the judges. Vauxhalls sold through Network Q comes complete with multi-point check, a history check confirming the vehicle's age and mileage plus a five-day drive-away insurance policy to get you on the road.

You also get a 30-day exchange policy, allowing you to swap your car for one of equal value if there's an electrical or mechanical fault that cannot be fixed. And peace of mind can be extended with a Network Q car warranty for up to 60 months.

What Car? believes this nationwide presence, a huge, affordable stock and comprehensive insurance package makes Vauxhall a worthy overall winner.

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The most economical cars to run
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The best cars of the year 2014

Official mpg: 57.6mpg
True mpg: 45.4mpg

The third generation Seat Leon is the most economical car to run according to the WhatCar? True mpg test.

It's been a good year for the Spanish manufacturer as the Leon also won the Auto Express New Car Award 2013 after years of missing out to sister brands Volkswagon and Skoda.

The 1.2 TSI 105 has the smallest engine of the top six cars in the WhatCar? lineup, so unsurprisingly is the most efficient of the group.

As well as being efficient it's a great family car. You get plenty of cabin space and an impressive boot size of 380 litres - 65 litres more than in a Ford Focus!

The cheapest in the range is the 1.2 S-trim, but even as a starter model you get a decent standard of equipment with things like air-conditioning, Bluetooth, 5" colour multimedia screen and tyre-pressure monitoring included.

You can buy a new Seat Leon 1.2 TSI 105 S 5-door from £15,850.

Official mpg: 55.4mpg
True mpg: 42.8mpg

The stylish Mazda 3 is second on the list of the most economical family cars to run. And like the Seat you can get a starter model relatively cheaply, but with a generous helping of the best mod cons.

The entry-level SE models come with alloy wheels, Bluetooth and air-conditioning as standard. Plus, in terms of size, the 3 is almost on par with the Seat Leon.

WhatCar? says it's a fun car to drive and although it misses out on the top spot for fuel economy, it's not far off so worth a look.

The 2.0 Skyactiv-G 120 5-door is available from £16,995.

Official mpg: 54.3mpg
True mpg: 42.5mpg

The Audi A3 was named Car of the Year 2013 by WhatCar?, but only manages third place on its list of the most economical family cars to run.

It's not the cheapest motor, but the A3 offers plenty of space with a boot size of 380 litres on the Sportback. That's perfect for a family with a lot of gear to transport.

WhatCar? says it should definitely make the shortlist if you are looking for a decent sized hatchback.

The Audi A3 Sportback 1.4 TFSI 122 5-door can be purchased from £20,200

Official mpg: 52.3mpg
True mpg: 42.1mpg

The Kia Ceed provides an exceptional amount of space (1,318 litres with the seats down) and comfortably transports five adults.

Its large 1.6 engine can almost match the economy of rivals, but WhatCar? says the petrol version of this car is a disappointment compared to the diesel in terms of driver enjoyment.

The Kia Ceed is available in four trim levels. Top level Ceed '4' gets you parallel park assist system (PPAS) which automatically parks your car! But your basic trim '2' isn't exactly rubbish with reverse parking sensors included.

The Kia Ceed '2' 1.6 GDi 133 5-door is available from £16,195 and comes with the Kia seven-year warranty.

Official mpg: 51.4mpg
True mpg: 41.5mpg

The new A-Class looks pretty great with its sharp exterior and smart cabin, and the A180 has attracted high praise from the likes of Top Gear magazine who claim it's enough to rival the BMW1-Series and the Audi A3.

But WhatCar? says that even though safety and equipment levels are up there with the best (you get alloy wheels, Bluetooth and air-conditioning as standard with every model) it's a disappointment to drive.

If you want to be the judge, the A180 is the cheapest Benz you can buy. You can get the A180 BlueEfficiency 122 five-door from £20,370.

Official mpg: 53.3mpg
True mpg: 40.6mpg

Last but not least is the Skoda Octavia.

It's not the most stylish motor of the lineup but WhatCar? reports that the petrol engines are smooth and quiet, while the cabin is a comfortable and spacious place to sit - six-foot adults can sit comfoirtably behind similar-sized adults at the front with leg-room to spare!

If you fancy it the 1.4 TSI 140 is available from £18,390.


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