What Car? Car of the Year Awards 2022

25 Jan 2022 by Megan Maxwell

The winners of the What Car? Car of the Year Awards 2022 has been revealed.

The car market today offers a huge range of models to drivers, so choosing a car can get confusing. Well, since celebrating their 45th anniversary this year, What Car? offer their suggestions to motorists to help make those decisions by choosing champions in various categories through their extensive 12 months testing of 100s of cars.

So, without further ado, here are some of the chosen winners in 2022.

Best Small Car: Honda Jazz 1.5 i-MMD Hybrid SR

Honda Jazz

Despite the Honda Jazz being a small car, it offers big characteristics – not only in terms of comfort but also the amount of interior space offered inside.

The Jazz is exclusively available with a 1.5-litre i-MMD engine; Honda’s own intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) – resulting in outstanding fuel economy. In actual fact, the 1.5-litre Jazz returned an impressive 56mpg in the What Car? tests.

Best Family Car: SEAT Leon 1.5TSi 130 Evo FR

SEAT Leon

When it comes to a family car, practicality is essential. This is why the SEAT Leon took first prize in the Best Family Car category.

Offering plenty of space for all of its passengers, it also provides generous amounts of legroom for those in the back seats. Not only that, but with a large boot (380 litres) there is easily enough space for any type of cargo such as pushchairs or shopping.

Best Small SUV: Ford Puma 1.0 Ecoboost Hybrid 155 ST-Line

Ford Puma ST

For the third year running, the Ford Puma has won the best What Car? small SUV category. No surprises, as the Puma provides a great drive and feels super agile on the roads. What Car? recommends the Ford Puma 1.0 Ecoboost Hybrid 155 petrol engine from its strong mix of performance with unexpected efficiency.

The Puma is also equipped with a well-placed driving position for its drivers, which is fairly high-up and offer excellent support – especially the sports seats within the recommended ST-Line models.

Best Family SUV: Volvo XC40 Recharge T4 Plus (Dark Theme)

Volvo XC40 Rechage

The Volvo XC40 was first released in 2017 to sit in the line-up alongside the XC60 and XC90 as Volvo’s compact SUV. It is a true all-rounder, as the Volvo XC40 is great in terms of style and practicality. What Car? honoured the size of boot in the XC40; with its square shape and no lip at the entrance to cause a struggle when loading. The family SUV winner also provides a large amount of space for each passenger in every seat within the car.

This award also came down to their testing strategy. The T4 plug-in hybrid, which mixes a 1.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor, was able to cover 21 miles purely on battery power (versus an official figure of 28 miles). This could be a whole commute to work or picking up the kids, so it would be perfect for both the environment and drivers wallets.

Best Plug-in Hybrid: Lexus NX 450h+ F Sport

Lexus NX

When it comes to plug-in hybrid models, What Car? called upon the Lexus NX 450h+ F Sport to provide drivers who aren’t ready to go fully electric but are attracted to zero-emission motoring. It’s a large SUV that can officially travel 42.2 miles purely on electric power, but under real-world testing resulted in 30-35 miles – enough for most commutes.

If drivers are looking for efficiency – the NX offers a 2.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor attached, with an additional motor attached to the rear axle to provide a four-wheel drive. Smooth in urban environments, it has no problems picking up speed on more open roads reaching 0-60mph in 9.2 seconds.

Previous Lexus infotainment systems have been overly complicated, but thankfully the NX has a much more intuitive set-up, as well as an enticing interior.

Best small electric car: Cupra Born 58kWh V2

CUPRA Born

The CUPRA Born’s design serves more than one purpose; not only does it draw you to the vehicle, but it highlights that EVs don’t need to be boring. Sharing the same platform and systems as the Volkswagen ID.3, the Born makes a good family car with its spaciousness and large boot.

Although What Car? recommend the 210bhp electric motor, performance fans can up the ante with an e-Boost version that lifts power by 27bhp. An official 263-mile range from the standard 58kWh battery places it among the higher achievers in the class.

Best True MPG: Toyota Yaris Cross 1.5 Hybrid Design

Toyota Yaris Cross (UK Spec)

Toyota’s new small SUV is powered by a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine combined with an electric motor, with a battery big enough to cover longer distances on electric power alone – hence why the Yaris Cross topped the category with its record-breaking fuel economy.

Because the petrol engine is dormant for much of the time in low-speed driving, the Yaris Cross achieved an astonishing 103.3mpg on the What Car? testing True MPG town cycle. Overall, the Yaris Cross managed an outstanding 60.1mpg – the best average figure ever seen in the awards and encouragingly close to its official return of 62.7mpg.

Best Pick-Up: Ford Ranger 2.0 EcoBlue 213 Wildtrak auto

Ford Ranger Wildtrak

Another Ford to hit the ground running in this year’s What Car? Awards. The Ford Ranger pick-up has a carrying capacity of 1 tonne and can tow up to 3,500kg – but that doesn’t affect the drive for passengers. In fact, it has a ground clearance of 237mm and effortlessly wades through water up to 800mm deep, making any drive pleasurable no matter what the Ranger is carrying.

What Car? commended the pick-up on being quick, too. Their pick of the bunch was the Ford Ranger 2.0 EcoBlue 213 Wildtrak auto, which offers 210bhp out of its twin-turbo 2.0-litre diesel engine. This makes the pick-up a lot faster on the road, with a 0-62mph time of 9.0sec without cargo.

Best Large SUV: Hyundai Santa Fe 1.6 T-GDi Hybrid 4WD Premium

Hyundai Santa Fe

Since its 2020 overhaul, the Hyundai Santa Fe was built as a large and encompassing SUV while offering a 1.6 T-GDi petrol engine combined with a Lithium-ion battery. Bringing together lower emissions from the hybrid technology with useful additions to the standard spec, the Santa Fe all adds up to be a very impressive package.

The Santa Fe also has a comfortable ride when fitted with the smaller, 17-inch wheels that come with Premium trim, and it even gets standard self-levelling suspension at the rear. Overall, What Car? loved this car from its extraordinary performance on any type of road, combined with high levels of luxury.

Best Electric SUV: Kia EV6 RWD GT-Line

Kia EV6 GT

The electric car market is an exciting one at the moment; with new EVs being announced each month. But the great news for car buyers is that the heat of competition has inspired car makers to really up their game, which Kia has stepped into.

The Kia EV6 is big – inside and out, front and back. With its sizeable, 77.4kWh battery, the EV6 has the sort of range required to allow you to cover long distances without breaking a sweat. If drivers can find a public CCS device that can deliver power at 233kW or more, the EV6 will go from 10-80% battery in as little as 17 minutes.

Best Sports SUV: Ford Puma ST 1.5 Ecoboost 200 Performance Pack

Ford Puma ST

Hitting the top spot once again, the Ford Puma ST offers the finesse that is often lacking from sports SUVs.

With low weight and precise steering, the Puma ST sends all of its power to the front wheels, and even when the accelerator pedal is lifted mid-corner, the back end will pivot around graciously to help tighten up the line or position of the car to perfectly exit.

Best for Safety: Nissan Qashqai

Nissan Qashqai

The Qashqai takes the top spot this year for several reasons, not least because its overall Euro NCAP safety score is among the best of all the cars tested in 2021. The Qashqai gained the year’s highest Euro NCAP score for Safety Assist: 95%.

That’s because all trim levels come with a suite of very effective active safety systems, including AEB and lane-keeping support.

Best for Reliability: Lexus

Lexus UX 300e

Achieving 98.7% in reliability ratings, Lexus topped the annual What Car? Reliability Survey.

This is due to owners appraising Lexus to What Car? about ever having any faults with their models, and if any did occur, were fixed swiftly and cheaply.

Overall winner: Kia EV6

Kia EV6

After winning the best electric SUV, it comes as no surprise the Kia EV6 is the What Car? overall winner.

The EV6 combines a huge real-world range with the ability to charge at high speeds, addressing two of the biggest concerns that people still have about electric cars. Furthermore, the EV6 is based on bespoke electric underpinnings which allow Kia to produce compact-sized electric motors to make a car hugely spacious and practical.

Add in its effortless performance, outstanding refinement, competitive pricing and one of the best warranties around, the Kia EV6 doesn’t just look like the future – it feels like it too.


There we have it. Some of the biggest winners from this year’s What Car? awards.

Do you own any of these cars, or spotted one for your next purchase? Let us know in the comments or speak to us on our socials!

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