Volvo V40 hatchback

£18,995 - £31,900

If safety is your number one concern, look no further than the Volvo V40. This upmarket rival to the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and Mercedes A-Class was one of the first cars to feature autonomous braking as standard, which can detect an obstacle and apply the brakes to avoid a collision.

A comfortable interior, with some of the best seats in the business, makes the V40 a great car for travelling long distances. That alone will appeal to some drivers as much as the BMW 1 Series’ sporty handling will attract others. Equipment levels are comprehensive and the R Design adds a dose of aggression to the elegant V40, but also makes the ride less comfortable.

It doesn’t quite have class-leading economy, but the 83.1mpg achieved by the D2 diesel is still staggering, while the superb D4 diesel gives the V40 an impressive blend of performance and economy, with acceleration from 0-62mph in 7.0 seconds and fuel economy of 67.3mpg.