Carmakers, look away now. Members of the Which? Car team have nominated their best and worst new cars of 2011 – with surprising results. The Evoque gets yet another accolade, but others don’t do so well.
Best cars of 2011
Claire Evans picks out the Range Rover Evoque
There’s been a huge amount of hype about the Evoque – so much so that you’d have to live on the Moon not to have noticed it. And it’s all been rather gushing, so usually I would have been happy to have stood out from the crowd and slated it.
But I can’t because it is a superb machine with remarkably refined on-road manners, backed up by modern, efficient engines, head-turning looks and a fairly respectable price. Our full test results are due soon, so let’s hope it can beat Audi and BMW at their own game.
Mike Briggs champions the Mercedes-Benz CLS
I’ve always considered the four-door luxury coupé concept as a bit gimmicky – until I drove the new Mercedes-Benz CLS earlier this year. I was impressed with its comfortable interior (although it only has two seats in the back), abundance of clever tech and powerful entry-level four-cylinder diesel engine.
However, it was the ride quality that blew me away. Despite being hunkered low to the ground and handling like a performance car, the CLS was impeccably smooth. It has to go down as the most comfortable car I’ve ever experienced. If we get good reliability feedback from our Which? Car survey, it will be a Best Buy next year.
Tim Pitt backs the slow and steady Kia Picanto
This year, Kia leapfrogged its rivals straight to the top of the city car class. The pint-sized Picanto won’t win plaudits from petrolheads, but it’s one of the most practical, safe and well-made cars that (not very much) money can buy. Factor in a seven-year warranty and suddenly that Fiat 500 starts to look very pricey.
So, 68bhp Picanto versus 335bhp 1 Series M? Maybe slow and steady wins the race after all?
Worst cars of 2011
Richard Headland chastises the Lexus CT 200h
While the Lexus CT 200h may not go down in history as the worst car launched in 2011, it certainly flew wide of the mark. I had high hopes for the baby Lexus with its hybrid engine, but the reality left me wondering how it ever got past Lexus’s notoriously exacting engineers.
The jarring ride was the most unpleasant surprise, followed closely by the cramped cabin and a CVT auto gearbox, which makes the revs scream as the car struggles (and fails) to achieve its sporting pretensions.
For me, the £23k+ price tag feels impossible to justify. It’s a pity, because I think there is a market for a smaller, greener Lexus – just not this one.
Dave Evans is disappointed by the Honda Civic
It’s not that the 2011 Honda Civic is a bad car. It’s more a case of huge disappointment that obvious issues with the old model haven’t been rectified. The back window spoiler, for example, which hindered rearward vision, has been retained and still restricts the view.
The poor ride quality has been improved, but not to the level of direct competitors. And it’s still not as good to drive as the Civic of two generations ago. Our only hope is that this car’s shaky reliability has been boosted to the level of other Hondas, like the Jazz and Accord.
Rob Hull doesn’t like the Jeep Compass
Rob Hull: If the Jeep Compass had been launched four or five years ago, around the time the Nissan Qashqai emerged on the market, it would have been considered a pretty decent car. But for 2011 it’s too far behind the competition.
The 2.2-litre diesel engine isn’t particularly refined (despite coming from Mercedes-Benz) and it has high CO2 emissions, resulting in expensive car tax. And although the interior quality is an improvement over Jeep models of old, it’s far from luxurious compared to other compact SUVs.
Do you agree with our best and worst cars of 2011? And are there any cars we haven’t mentioned that you’d like to see lauded or lambasted?