Best premium electric car
AN electric Jaguar might have enjoyed plenty of limelight at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding back in May, but it was the Coventry firm’s I-Pace that took centre stage in showrooms.
The Audi e-tron and Mercedes EQC are on their way in 2019, but this £63,495 Jaguar I-Pace, the first premium all-electric SUV, was here first.
With its 90kWh electric motor and 298 mile range, the I-Pace already outperforms its forthcoming younger German competition, handles well and already boasts a six-month waiting list.
Best family saloon
YOU don’t have to have Mensa membership to know that crossovers are dominating sales right now and the repmobile family saloon market is one of the biggest affected.
So it’s ironic that Peugeot has produced such a strong noncrossover candidate in the form of its stunning new 508.
Starting from £25,039, the 508 has a new hatchback body, is better looking inside and out, great to drive as well as being comfortable and light-years ahead of is predecessor.
Even better, there’s an SW estate version on its way in 2019.
THE original BMW X5 was a game-changer when it first arrived in 1999 and more than 2.2-million worldwide sales later, it’s still setting the standard with this fourth-generation version. With a larger X7 on its way in 2019 and the competent X3 beneath it, this £57,495 X5 could have lost it way, but instead it is better than ever.
Refined, comfortable and excellent to drive, it may have lost some of its sportier sharpness compared to its predecessors, but few owners are likely to notice, as virtually every other element of the car has improved.
Sharing a class with the Volvo XC90 and Land Rover Discovery is not easy, but this X5 is hard to fault.
Best hot hatch
Ford Fiesta ST
FORD’S reputation in the hot hatch market is well deserved with its long heritage of XR, ST and RS models.
This latest Fiesta ST certainly lives up to that.
Priced from £19,495, the ST combines some impressive pocket rocket speed with sporty looks and a new optional Performance Pack.
It’s this Performance Pack that enables you to exploit the ST’s handling to the full and defines this hot Fiesta as one of the best small hot hatches on the road.
Point-to-point, it’s capable of humiliating so-called sports cars at several times the price, it’s no exaggeration to say that this is probably one of the best cars ever to wear that emotive Ford ST badge.
Hyundai Kona EV
Best mainstream electric
Hyundai Kona EV
IF the Jaguar I-Pace stole a clear march on its premium rivals for electric cars, then there was no doubt about who did the same in the mainstream market.
Despite having only arrived into showrooms in September, the £24,495 Hyundai Kona already boasts a ten month waiting list, the kind of delay more fitting of supercars than a small crossover.
Good looks, a 279 mile range, an excellent driving experience and variable modes for the regenerative braking (crucial for electric cars) means that this is possibly the best and easiest step yet for many to move into plug-in motoring.
Plus, with 2019 seeing the arrival of the hydrogen-powered Nexo and Hyundai’s sister firm Kia launching the e-Niro, Korea looks to be leading the way for EVs in all their forms.
Bentley Continental GT
The craftsmanship of wood, metal and leather
Bentley Continental GT
IT would be very easy to assume that you’re already familiar with the Bentley Continental GT.
The most successful Bentley ever produced, there remains little else like it in the market for its combination of sporting luxury and comfort, even at its £156,700 list price.
However, while this new Continental’s styling is more evolution than revolution, it remains fearsomely fast, both from a standing start and mid-range and handles far better than its 2.2-tonne kerb weight would suggest.
Combined with that is an interior that’s nothing short of exquisite both in terms of the materials and its build quality.
The craftsmanship of wood, metal and leather has you constantly subconsciously running your hands across the surfaces.
Fifteen years on from the Continental GT’s arrival, it remains unique and better than ever.
Best sports car
WHAT a huge risk. Reinventing a beloved classic from the 1960s into a two-seater sportscar to take on the superb Porsche Cayman and with a £51,805 price tag to boot.
On the face of things, the prospects for Renault’s Alpine A110 looked slim, but the reality was simply divine.
A back-to-basics ethos along with a feather-like weight combined with a highrevving 1.8-litre turbo-charged engine and superb handling makes it one of the best driver’s cars we’ve driven this year.
Anyone planning on buying a Cayman in 2019 should drive one of these first.
Ford Focus/Kia Ceed
WHEN it comes to mid-range family hatchbacks, you’d expect the new £17,930 Ford Focus to have walked this class.
Indeed, the blue oval’s big-selling hatch is certainly a very fine car, proving to be more refined than ever and retaining much of its famed driver enjoyment.
But for 2019 the Focus has been matched from an unexpected corner in the form of the third-generation £18,295 Kia Ceed.
The Ceed has boasted the biggest conquest sales rate of any other car in this class and with this latest model, that’s only likely to continue.
The new Ceed better to drive, better built, very well-equipped and looks great as well.
It’s too tight between them, but right now, the Focus and Ceed represent the very best in class.