/ Motoring

What were the best and worst cars of 2011?

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

My favourite car of 2011? The BMW 1 Series M Coupé – no question. But the Bavarians only brought 450 to the UK and they’re all sold, so here’s something decidedly more down-to-earth: the 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?


At a time when we should all be thinking about the environment and many are struggling to make ends meet, perhaps it is time for Which? to drop luxury cars from reviews and discussion.


Hello Wavechange, we have a feature-packed Which? Car magazine and online car reviews that members expect to include all of the latest motors, no matter the price. If a member wants to go out and buy a car, they will want to check the reviews on Which? Car first. This means that they’ll be able to spend the money that they do have on a car that will suit them. Thanks.


I know, but I will continue to have an occasional dig about consumerism and waste of resources.

Howard Jones says:
30 December 2011

I must heartily agree with wavechange, too much luxury,rampant consumerism and well think of the Environment !!
I say lets return to the good old days,hay burners,thats horses/horse and carts to the uninitiated, but wait a minute what about all those methane emissions, the layers of dung in the streets and all those people killed by bolting horses and the need for the return of the boot scraper !!! maybe not ?


Consumerism is not just about luxury & cost – it is also about useful lifetime.
If a luxury car will last twice as long before replacement then it may be environmentally better than a car costing half as much, particularly if running costs are lower.

Time we seriously considered what is the practical lifetime of a car.
It is appalling that cars built in 2010 have shorter lifetimes than cars built in 1935 (I was driving one in 1965!)


I agree that lifetime of a vehicle and fuel consumption are important factors. Producing cheap cars that are not durable is just as undesirable as making large, expensive luxury vehicles that use a lot of fuel.

Ian Bartle says:
1 January 2012

Far from it. It is important that every persons welfare is protected not just those on lower incomes. Discrimination comes in various forms, what you are suggesting would be one. It is vital that new technologies that are first seen on the higher spec vehicles are reviewed and tested so that when they do filter down to cars that are less expensive they get the best and most technology available. Airbags, reversing sensors, fuel injection, sat nav, fuel saving technonolgy all appear on more expensive models first as these test beds lend themselves to lower mass production testing but do increase the cost of the vehicle. Thankfully we do have people that can afford to purchase these higher spec cars so that people just like you can benefit from the technical advances.


I notice that the film about car testing on the opening page makes frequent references to “our laboratory” and “our private test facility” but Which? hasn’t had a laboratory of it’s own since 2003 and the film clearly shows cars being tested in Germany. Surely this is misleading. Would somebody from Which? like to comment?



I am amazed to see that Which has launched it’s own Morgage Adviser service claiming that it is impartial yet admitting that it will receive commissions from mortgage providers. How can such a service be completely impartial?