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Lifestyle Guides

Best new affordable cars driven in 2018

Check out our favourites of the cars launched during 2018.


There's been no shortage of impressive cars launched in 2018 so choosing 10 of the best is an almost impossible task.

We've made it a bit easier by focusing on new cars at the more affordable end of the market, so don't go looking for a Lamborghini Urus or Bentley Continental GT here – fab though they are!

It was a close run thing, but sadly good new cars such as the Seat Arona, Hyundai i30N and Skoda Karoq, plus the handsome Peugeot 508, didn't quite make the final cut.

Here's our final list (in no particular order)...

1. Ford Focus


The Focus has regained its mojo with the fourth-generation car. Stylish, comfortable, safe and practical, it handles really well too.

The new Focus range (available as a five-door hatchback or estate) starts at £18,300 and there's a superb choice of efficient petrol and diesel engines, plus a sporty ST version.

2. Volkswagen Polo


The classy all-new Polo is the sixth generation of Volkswagen's popular supermini. Longer and wider than the outgoing model, its design is much fresher and it's equipped with the latest driver assistance systems including Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB).

Priced from £16,310, it boasts VW's great build quality, plus it's fun, frugal and surprisingly refined and entertaining to drive. Go for one with an eager 1.0-litre turbo engine in mid-level SE trim.

3. Subaru XV


A real hidden gem of a car, the new XV is the leftfield choice in the family crossover sector dominated by the Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage.

Priced from £25,310 and built to last, it's rewarding to drive, safe and hugely capable off-road. Blessed with Subaru's reputation for reliability, there's extra piece of mind because the XV comes with a generous five-year/100,000-mile warranty.

4. Volvo V60


The handsome all-new Volvo V60 is one of those understated vehicles that does everything it’s meant to do exceptionally well.

Admittedly it's stretching it to call the V60 affordable (the range starts at £32,410), but it really is one of the best new cars of the year. Safe, spacious and boasting serious kerb appeal, it’s a dream to drive and surprisingly economical.

5. Volkswagen up! GTI


The hot version of VW's evergreen up! city car is a revelation and we doubt that you can have more fun in a new car costing as little as £14,055.

If you are looking for a new small car that’s great around town, but also practical, economical and fun on any road then the up! GTI ticks all the boxes.

6. Kia Ceed


Just as Kia has taken the UK by storm in the last 25 years, emerging as an affordable, dependable brand with a wide range of cars all boasting a generous seven-year warranty, the Ceed has gone from strength to strength.

New for 2018, the third generation of the popular family hatchback is priced from £18,295 and a real step up. Smart looks, more space and a good range of engines, combined with improved driving dynamics and build quality, put it among the leaders in its class which includes the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Honda Civic.

7. Volvo XC40


The newest and smallest member of Volvo’s SUV family (slotting in below the XC60 and XC90), the XC40 has already won multiple awards including the 2018 European Car of the Year and What Car? Car of the Year 2018 and Best Family SUV.

Priced from £27,905, it's quite simply one of the best SUVs money can buy. As if its bold looks, engaging driving dynamics and high build quality aren’t enough – it’s also generously equipped, comfortable and extremely safe.

8. Ford Fiesta ST


Priced from £19,495 and bang up to date with the latest tech, the new Fiesta ST is more sophisticated, spacious and stylish than ever – and just as entertaining to drive.

"Pocket rocket" is much over-used, but totally justified in the case of the Fiesta ST. Its lively new 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine delivers 197bhp with 290Nm of torque and a 0-60 time of 6.5 seconds.  Serious fun for less than £20,000.

9. Nissan Leaf


The pioneering Nissan Leaf is the world’s most popular electric vehicle with more than 300,000 sales worldwide since it first went on sale in 2010.

Priced from £26,190 (including the Government Plug-in Car Grant) and built in Britain, the latest version finally looks good, is practical, easy to drive and has a range of up to 168 miles (latest real world figures). Full charging takes around 7.5 hours using a 7kWh home charger, but as little as 60 minutes (up to 80% capacity) using a rapid charger during your journey.

10. Suzuki Swift Sport


The previous Suzuki Swift Sport was a near-legendary pocket rocket. We're pleased to report that the third generation doesn’t disappoint.

The new car is quicker, lighter, lower and wider than its predecessor and is now powered by a lively turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine delivering 138bhp. Frankly, the all-new Suzuki Swift Sport is hard to fault. It’s huge fun to drive, yet practical and economical, and costs just £16,999 (includes a £1,000 saving until 31 December 2018).

Jaguar I-Pace


And finally, a bonus entry. Affordable it isn't, but we couldn't leave out arguably the most significant new car of 2018. It may start at £59,995 (including the Government Plug-in Car Grant), but the stunning all-electric Jaguar I-Pace is a sensation on and off road and boasts a real world driving range of up to 292 miles and a 0-60mph time of 4.5 seconds.

You've got to hand it to Jaguar because this premium Tesla Model S rival has come to market ahead of the German brands, and it’s a fine car.

  • Interested in buying one of these cars? Did you know Admiral offers motor finance?