/ Motoring

Our worst cars of 2010

Road sign saying 'disaster'

As we near 2011, the Which? Car team has been reflecting on the last 12 months, thinking about the cars that left us less-than-impressed in 2010. Here’s what we think – do you agree or do you have another contender?

You often hear people say that, these days, ‘there’s no such thing as a bad car’. Technology has moved on, safety standards have stepped up, and manufacturers are entering into new markets to keep up with consumer demand. However, there are many cars that just don’t live up to the initial hype.

In some cases it’s a failure to meet the promises from the manufacturer; in others a car just doesn’t live up to our expectations. Here are our candidates for the worst cars of 2010.

Rich Headland: Chevrolet Spark

In my opinion, the worst car of 2010 made its debut last January – the Chevrolet Spark. It may be a cheap and fairly practical supermini, but the 1.0-litre petrol we tested felt ‘asthmatic’ as it wheezed to 62mph in 15.5seconds.

Bizarrely, Chevrolet choose to promote this prosaic A-B transport with a marketing campaign pitched squarely at music-loving teenagers – probably the people least likely to want to buy it. Full marks for creativity guys, but I’m not buying it (the car nor the hype).

George Marshall-Thornhill: Saab 9-5

There are few car enthusiasts that don’t have a soft spot for Saab, but the recent period of GM ownership has let the brand rot with a pair of uninspiring, dated models fit for the knacker’s yard. Finally, that changed with Spyker’s purchase of the Swedish brand, and the Saab 9-5 is the first fruits of this new regime.

So I was looking forward to my 400-mile round trip in the new 9-5. Initial impressions were positive – it’s a good looking luxury saloon and still unmistakeably a Saab. But my enthusiasm soon drained as I began to realise this car was not significantly better than an Insignia – costing two thirds of the price.

The 2.0-litre diesel engine is stymied by a manual gearbox with ratios long enough to canter to the moon at idle, and there’s far too much noise and vibration for a £30,000 luxury car. It’s also missing those quality materials that make Audis and BMWs so satisfying to sit in. Yes, it’s comfortable and good on the motorway – but so is an Insignia. Ultimately it felt like an airport taxi, which is where the majority of 9-5s will probably end up.

Claire Evans: Honda CR-Z

Tough question, which goes to show that most new cars are competent and easy to live with. Low points of 2010 included the Proton Gen-2 for being shoddily built and decades behind the competition in terms of design and refinement. Most uncomfortable and aggravating on my commute were the uncompromising Subaru WRX and bone-shaking Abarth version of the Fiat 500.

But the wooden spoon has to go to the Honda CR-Z Hybrid Coupé. It claims to be both sporting and ‘green’, yet fails on both counts. The 0-62mph dash takes 9.9 seconds – slower than a Ford Mondeo – and emissions are 117g/km. To sum it up, it’s not great fun to drive, as abysmal visibility, especially to the rear, with distinctly unimpressive running costs. In trying to combine two different sectors, Honda appears to have failed to deliver on either of them.

Rob Hull: Landwind CV9

After seeing the footage from the recent EuroNCAP tests, the Landwind CV9 takes the mantle of worst car of 2010 for me. Any car that makes production and scores a two-star EuroNCAP rating sets alarm bells ringing. Each section of test footage makes me wince, and the side-impact test is nothing short of frightening.

The most alarming thing for me is the fact that the CV9 is an MPV – a family car you’d use to transport your nearest and dearest. Thankfully, it won’t be one that’ll be coming to the UK anytime soon.

Will McManus: Toyota Auris

My worst car of 2010 really wasn’t bad at all. There is very little you could say against the Toyota Auris, really. It’s OK to drive, fairly practical, should prove pretty reliable and is comfortable. But my lord, it is boring.

The interior is the model of plainness, with swathes of dark grey trim to numb the senses. It seems that Toyota’s designers decided to create a car that could never possibly offend anyone (something VW is also increasingly guilty of), and came up with something that no one could ever love. That said, they did launch a hybrid version, which is worth a few points. If anything, the fact that the Auris is my least-favourite car of 2010 just shows that it has actually been a rather good year.

Tim Pitt: Honda CR-Z

The Honda CR-Z isn’t the worst car of 2010 (step forward, Nissan Micra), but it was the most disappointing. As the spiritual successor to the CRX coupé – a car I lusted over in my youth – the wedgy, hybrid-powered CR-Z showed great promise. But if the notion of a hybrid sports car seems like a contradiction in terms, the underpowered and underwhelming CR-Z seemed to prove it.

With a meagre 122bhp, it’s simply not quick enough to be exciting (even in sport mode) and fuel economy is no better than many sporty diesel hatchbacks. Throw in a dim-witted stop-start system, pointless back seats and woeful rear visibility, and the CR-Z feels like a missed opportunity. Here’s hoping the forthcoming petrol-only Type-R version will change my mind.

Dave Evans: Aston Martin Rapide

This one is short and sweet. The Aston Martin Rapide takes the company into new territory. In my view it is territory the company should have avoided at all costs. Sure, it probably isn’t a truly ‘bad’ car and I can’t say I’ve had a chance to drive one, so it wouldn’t be fair to run it down for its performance – or the maker’s claims.

But gaining the accolade ‘the most elegant four-door sports car in the world’ is a bit like being named ‘the best Wellington boots for running in the Olympics’.

Stop messing about Aston, and start making cars that film-makers will want to feature in James Bond movies again. It’s time to push BMW right off that pedestal once again.

Does your worst car of the year feature here or have you got a different contender for the crown?


The above coments by Which car testers sets out clearly why I do not like the reports on cars. The one about the Chevrolet Spark is typical, no proper criticism except its performance. Why? In this country the speed limit is 70 if one is not on a motorway then traffic makes it rarely worth overtaking, why do pople insist on overtaking in a string of traffic, and if the car appeals to the young it may just save their lives. So get off this performance trip you all seem to be on. Most people use a car as a method of going from A to B, it is handy if it is economical, reliable and comfortable. You do not get many chances to legally drive at 100mph plus so lets keep things sensible

I must agree we the comment above except to say that as far as I am aware there is no public road on mainland UK where civilian drivers may exceed 70 mph. In my experience Chevrolet Sparks deliver what they are designed for: simple, comfortable, spacious, reliable, affordable transport with no frills. So what if it isn’t fast or quick, that’s not why you buy one. It seems both curious and nonsensical to criticise a car for not being what it was never designed to be. If you want a car with more frills, speed, and acceleration buy one which claims to have those and then comment upon whether it delivers or not: that would be a useful report,

former hondafan says:
18 March 2011

I for one was excited when the CR-Z was announced–but after reading every review that I could find on this car–I agree with you wholeheartedly–this is one of the worse cars of 2011 as it utterly fails to deliver on the promise of a sporty hybrid as it is neither sporty nor very frugal (for a hybrid). Honda’s outdated poorly performing IMA system does very little to enhance the perfomance of the car and without question–Honda could have achieved the same or better performance and produced a lighter, cheaper car if it had just forego the hyrid system and went with gasoline engines only. 122 hp for a car this heavy is just too meager to be consider sporty by any reasonable person.

Roger says:
27 March 2011

I also was very excited by the news that the CR-Z was going into production. As a very happy owner of the iconic CRX, for over 7 satisfying years, clocking up over 150,000 trouble free miles. I saw the ‘artists impression’ drawings and the pre production images and thought that we were going to get another great member of the Honda family and went into “I want one of those mode”. Pre registered my interest with my local dealer; and then it happened,they introduced the new car. Where did my dream car go? The looks were not as good as hinted, but I thought “don’t worry it’s a Honda, it’ll still deliver”. Then I read every review I could lay my hands on, including very experienced ‘test drives’, I confess I didn’t even bother to book a test drive. For me Honda had missed the boat as they had when they changed the design of the CRX from a fully functioning hatchback to a 2 seater scateboard. A crying shame.

Dave says:
20 May 2011

Has anyone had problems with a Honda E.S. 2.2 diesel 2009 regarding the clutch slipping

KentishDave says:
13 August 2013

I have owned a Honda CR-Z for 4 months and I completely disagree with the comments made by Claire Evans. Was she reviewing a different car? How in the World can she say it was the worst car of 2010? It is definitely fun to drive in sport mode, I admit the visibility is partially obstructed but it conveniently blocks out glaring headlights behind you at night, and a car that does 40 mpg in town and has a car tax of £20 I think is brilliant.I don’t know where you found Claire Evans, but you can put her back there.