Carbuyer Best Car Awards 2021 - the winners
The winners of the Carbuyer Best Car Awards 2021 have been announced, celebrating the best cars on sale in the UK
The Carbuyer Best Car Awards 2021 are finally here. Just like every year, we’ve gone through every car on sale in the UK to find out which models are best for you, the buyers. Our team of experts has tested all the major contenders in every part of the market, judging each one on how they perform in specific areas, as well as how they fare as an overall package. That’s led us to the best models in 21 categories.
Every car shortlisted for a Carbuyer award will have excelled during our testing process. Each one needs to impress in terms of costs, ownership, performance, comfort, safety and practicality. To get a win, a car needs to stand above all the other cars that are of a similar size and price. Each individual category winner is then shortlisted for our prestigious Carbuyer Car of the Year award.
This year has been far from normal but car manufacturers have still released plenty of new and impressive products. Electric power has been pushed harder than ever before, and buyers now have an incredible range of choice if considering an EV. Yet cars with normal engines are also better than ever as well, in many different ways.
Some of the categories have changed this year to reflect changes in the market. SUVs are as mainstream as it gets, so they’re now included in our other categories - and we’ve expanded the categories covering electric and hybrid cars.
Read on to discover all of this year’s category winners and the Carbuyer Car of the Year for 2021.
Best Car Awards 2021: the winners
Best City Car: Hyundai i10
The latest Hyundai i10 takes the model to an unprecedented level of sophistication, which has helped it take our Best City Car award for 2021. It’s got plenty of tech for a car in this class, it’s economical and good fun to drive. Practicality has also been improved, with the latest i10 beating several city car rivals for interior and boot space.
Best Small Car: Renault Clio
The Renault Clio scoops our small car award for a second year in a row thanks to its high-quality interior, hybrid technology and impressive practicality. Our Best Supermini for 2021 is also good to drive and comfortable.
Best Small Family Car: Renault Captur
The Renault Captur is our Best Small Family Car in 2021 because it brings all the benefits of the Clio, with which it shares parts, along with increased practicality. It’s got enough room for a small family as a result thanks to its trendy SUV styling, yet running costs remain low.
Best Family Car: Skoda Octavia
The Skoda Octavia has long been a favourite of ours and this latest version is the best yet - it’s our 2021 Best Family Car. It’s hugely spacious inside for passengers and luggage, as well as comfortable, good to drive and packed with hi-tech equipment. It’s also available with a range of efficient and quiet engines.
Best Large Family Car: Kia Sorento
The latest Kia Sorento is a practical, comfortable and tech-filled large SUV, and nabs this year’s Best Large Family Car award. The new hybrid motor setup is excellent and means you can buy an affordable large SUV without needing diesel power.
Best Estate Car: Skoda Octavia Estate
The Skoda Octavia Estate is a family car that offers masses of space and class-leading technology but it doesn’t cost the earth to buy or run. It feels comfortable and secure to drive and, with a huge variety of powertrains ranging from standard petrol and diesel to mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid, there’s a version for almost every budget. The excellent practicality and impressive value for money made it impossible to look past the Octavia as the winner of our Best Estate Car award for 2021.
Best Small Company Car: Mercedes A 250 e
If you need a really efficient tax-busting company car, our Best Small Company Car for 2021, the Mercedes A-Class, is an outstanding proposition in plug-in hybrid A 250 e form. The fantastic interior and incredible level of technology inside mean it’s great for commuting as well as saving money.
Best Company Car: Tesla Model 3
If you’re able to charge at home then the Tesla Model 3 makes a perfect company car - that’s why it’s the winner of our Best Company Car category. Ultra-low tax and no need to fill up at petrol stations are both plus points of any EV, but the Model 3’s long range, modern interior and impressive tech mean it’s our winner this year.
Best Large Company Car: BMW 530e
The BMW 5 Series is an incredible car and the 530e plug-in hybrid version makes a brilliant large company car. It’s great to drive, incredibly comfortable, full of kit and, crucially for our Best Large Company Car 2021 category, cheap to tax for business users.
Best Sports Car: Mazda MX-5
The Mazda MX-5 is still made to the same formula as it was more than 30 years ago: small engine, light weight and a focus on pure fun. There’s little on the road that's more rewarding to drive than an MX-5, yet it costs less than many family cars. It’s a deserving winner of this year’s award and is one of the best sports cars ever made.
Best Convertible: MINI Convertible
The MINI Convertible offers something different, as very few small cars are available with a soft-top these days. It's just as fun to drive as the hatchback version and comes with lots of kit, a stylish interior and an affordable price. It’s our Best Convertible in 2021, having won the award last year too.
Best Hot Hatch: Ford Fiesta ST
The Ford Fiesta ST grabs our Best Hot Hatchback award again this year, as it still brings the same great qualities to the table: a massively enjoyable driving experience, plenty of kit and best of all, a low price. The Fiesta is a great car no matter which version you choose, and the ST is a very deserving winner here.
Best Pickup: Ford Ranger
Our Best Pickup 2021 award goes to the Ford Ranger. It drives very much like a large SUV, although the rugged appeal remains and it’s great off-road. The double cab model has lots of room inside and the load bay is useful. The normal model is great and the Raptor version is even better.
Best Small Electric Car: Renault ZOE
The new Renault ZOE shares many of its high points with the Renault Clio; it has a great interior and is rather practical for a small car. Yet it’s also a great electric car, with a decent 245 miles of range that cements it as our Best Small Electric Car for 2021.
Best Family Electric Car: Volkswagen ID.3
If you’re used to family cars such as the Volkswagen Golf but want to move into an electric car, then the VW ID.3 is a great choice and our 2021 Best Family Electric Car. It’s really spacious, comfortable and with various models with different maximum ranges, there’s bound to be a model that suits your needs.
Best Large Electric Car: Jaguar I-Pace
The Jaguar I-Pace is no longer one of the new electric cars on the market but it hasn’t lost its shine - it’s still our favourite large electric car and wins this year’s award. The I-Pace is great to drive, full of tech and very stylish. There’s enough range for it to be your only car, too.
Best Hybrid Car: Toyota Corolla Touring Sports
The Toyota Corolla Touring Sports uses the hybrid technology from the excellent Prius but it’s more practical, better to drive and has lots of kit inside. It’s not the most spacious estate around but it’s certainly one of the most efficient, and it’s such a good all-rounder that it scoops our Best Hybrid Car award this year.
Best Plug-in Hybrid: Skoda Superb iV
The Skoda Superb is one of our favourite cars because it offers a huge amount of space for the money and is good to drive. It’s comfortable and well-equipped too, so now that there’s a plug-in hybrid version called the iV, it’s a clear winner in our Best Plug-in Hybrid category.
Best Large Plug-in Hybrid: BMW X5 xDrive45e
The BMW X5 plug-in hybrid is everything we look for in this kind of car. It’s incredibly comfortable, full of kit, very practical and the interior is luxurious. The plug-in version allows you to enjoy the X5 in full-electric mode for around 30 miles, saving money on fuel costs and keeping emissions low.
Best Customer Service: Lexus
Lexus is a consistent winner for customer satisfaction in our annual surveys, and this year was no exception. The Japanese brand scores highly for reliability but owners also praise their dealers for the sales and maintenance services they provide.
Used Car of the Year: Vauxhall Astra
There are thousands of bargains to be found on the used car market but our pick for this year is the Vauxhall Astra. It’s often overlooked because of its slightly bland image but it’s a good car in many respects: great to drive, comfortable, practical and well-equipped. There are plenty of used examples available, so you’ll find plenty of choice and affordable prices.
CarBuyer Car of the Decade: Ford Fiesta
The Ford Fiesta spent the vast majority of the past decade at the top of the UK car sales charts and there are many good reasons why. All those reasons are why we’ve named the Fiesta as our Car of the Decade.
The Fiesta brings together everything that you need from a car into an affordable and desirable package. Competitive pricing means it’s always been an attractive buy but when you consider that each version of the Fiesta available over the past 10 years has been fantastic to drive, well-equipped, comfortable and efficient, it’s the car that has had everything you really need during that time.
Hot ST versions have consistently been at the top of our hot hatch shopping lists over the past decade, but even the lesser models are great fun. The EcoBoost 1.0-litre engines in these cars are enjoyable to use but also really efficient and punchy, setting the standard for the competition.
The Fiesta was, and is, perfectly judged for British roads. It’s small and nimble while also smooth over potholes and bumps, and only the ST models are a tad uncomfortable - yet these are also incredibly fun to drive.
Ford’s small car makes sense for so many people; the entry-level models are great as a first car, the mid-range versions are perfect for commuting and more recently there are even SUV-like ‘Active’ versions for style-conscious buyers. A used example won’t prove to be much trouble either, as parts are plentiful and cheap.
Richard Ingram, editor of Carbuyer.co.uk, said: “For Carbuyer’s Car of the Decade, we looked for a single model that defined the automotive landscape – a car that does exactly what it says on the tin.
“The Ford Fiesta has been the UK’s best-selling car every year since Carbuyer launched and is a byword for British motoring. It’s a brilliant all-rounder and truly deserving of our coveted Car of the Decade trophy.”
Carbuyer Car of The Year: Kia Sorento
The Kia Sorento is our Car of the Year for 2021. This large SUV is a great example of how Kia has pushed the boundaries for a mainstream car maker and created an impressively luxurious and upmarket SUV that competes with some seriously sophisticated alternative models.
The new Sorento is incredibly practical - few will want for more room inside a car - and thanks to a new hybrid motor, it’s more efficient than you might expect as well. It also means you can buy a large SUV without having to go for a diesel engine.
Richard Ingram, editor of Carbuyer.co.uk, said: “Our Best Large Family Car and our overall Car of the Year for 2021 has been awarded to what we consider the consummate all-rounder.
“The Kia Sorento is a versatile SUV that’s nipping at the heels of premium rivals, feeling luxurious and spacious in equal measure. Competition in this area of the market is fierce, but no other model comes close to the far-reaching talents of the fantastic Sorento. Congratulations to Kia on a well-deserved win.”
Congratulations to the Kia Sorento, which is the Carbuyer Car of The Year 2021.
BMW X5 xDrive45e hybrid SUV review
Updated 2020 Audi SQ2 now available to order
Ford Kuga Hybrid joins range as third electrified Kuga