What Car? Awards 2022: Best car in every class revealed

The winners of the 2022 What Car? Car of the Year awards have been revealed - your guide to the best car in every class available on sale today. Take a look what the judges had to say about some of the winners below:

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

The Ford Puma has now won this category for a third year in a row. Like many Fords, it’s great to drive, and feels super-nimble whether you’re flying down your favourite country lane or merely scooting around town. Crucially, though, you don’t pay the price for that with a bone-shaking ride.

If you go for our recommended engine, the 1.0 Ecoboost Hybrid 155 petrol, the Puma also manages to mix strong performance with surprising efficiency. The driving position is another strength. The Puma places you fairly high up, and the front seats offer excellent support, especially the sports seats fitted to ST-Line models. With its nippy acceleration and agile handling, it will put a bigger smile on your face than any other small SUV. It’s also a car you can buy with your sensible hat on, thanks to the efficiency, practicality and value it offers.

Best estate: ŠKODA Superb Estate 2.0TDi 150 SE L

When it comes to carrying capacity, the ŠKODA Superb turns it up to 11… carry-on suitcases, that is. Our favourite SE L trim level gives you a convenient electric tailgate too, and if you add the optional folding front seat, you’ve got the entire distance from the tailgate to the dashboard to play with.

The Superb doesn’t wear a premium badge on its nose, but it isn’t exactly shown up by Audi or Mercedes when it comes to interior quality. There’s precious little evidence of cost-cutting, with soft-touch plastics and elegant chrome elements in all the most prominent places, plus it’s all assembled well enough to withstand the rigours of family life. Our favourite model’s 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel has more than enough muscle to get the job done, allied to great 54.8 mpg overall economy.

Best pick-up: Ford Ranger 2.0 EcoBlue 213 Wildtrak auto

Despite beefy suspension that enables it to carry payloads of more than a tonne, the Ford Ranger rides in a far more civilised manner than its Isuzu D-Max, Ssangyong Musso and Toyota Hilux rivals, whether lightly laden or loaded up with cargo. What’s more, despite its considerable heft (it’s longer, taller and wider than a Range Rover Sport), the Ranger isn’t as cumbersome to drive as you might think.

In fact, it handles far more tidily than any of its rivals, leaning much less noticeably in bends than other pick-ups. It’s comparatively quick, too. With 210bhp, the Ranger’s twin-turbo 2.0-litre diesel engine packs a much bigger punch than the 2.8-litre unit found in the Hilux. That makes the Ranger an awful lot faster on the road, with a 0-62mph time of 9.0sec without cargo. That might sound like pub trivia, but it means you won’t have to worry too much about merging into traffic, even when it’s loaded up. Our favourite Wildtrak model even comes with a 12-volt electric outlet in the bed for charging up your power tools.

Best electric SUV: Kia EV6 RWD GT-Line

The new Kia EV6 is big. Surprisingly so. It’s actually longer than the Jaguar I-Pace, but because of how the EV6’s sleek exterior blurs the lines between hatchback and SUV, it hides its size well. Until you get inside, that is. Take a seat up front and there’s plenty of leg and head room for even the tallest to get comfortable, and its considerable width gives it a more open feel than its rivals. Jump in the back and you’re treated to almost limo-like levels of space.

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. Officially, it can go for up to 328 miles between charges – farther than the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and entry-level Tesla Model 3. If you can find a public CCS device that can deliver power at 233kW or more, the EV6 will go from 10-80% in as little as 17 minutes. And with a button that reclines the front seats like those in an airliner’s business class section, you can catch a quick 40 winks while the car charges. Finally, the fact that it’s enjoyable to drive means the EV6 leaves no box unticked.

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

Sports SUVs used to be brutish things, offering plenty of power and four-wheel drive to launch you out of bends, but little in the way of finesse. However, the Ford Puma ST delivers a very different and more rewarding experience. Key to this is its low weight compared with rivals, making the car feel nimble and easy to place. And while the Puma ST sends all of its power to the front wheels, if you lift off the accelerator pedal mid-corner, the back end will pivot around gracefully to help you tighten your line or position the car perfectly for the exit.

Add in weighty yet precise steering and the sticky Michelin tyres you get as part of the optional Performance Pack and you always feel in complete control. The fun continues on the straights, because the Puma ST’s 197bhp turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol engine (borrowed from the Fiesta ST hot hatch) feels suitably brawny. Plus, it’s linked to a six-speed manual gearbox that has a pleasingly short shift action and gives you a sense of engagement that you just don’t get in rivals equipped with automatic gearboxes.

Overall winner: Kia EV6

Choose any of our 2022 award winners and you’ll be getting an absolutely fantastic car that’s better than all of its direct rivals. However, the overall Car of the Year award is reserved for the model that has moved things on the farthest in the past 12 months. And this year, that’s the Kia EV6.

For starters, the EV6 combines a huge real-world range with the ability to charge at speeds that even some Teslas can’t keep up with, addressing two of the biggest concerns that people still have about electric cars. What’s more, by basing the EV6 on bespoke electric underpinnings rather than a set that’s shared by petrol and diesel models, Kia has been able to take advantage of the compact size of electric motors and produce a car that’s hugely spacious and practical.

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

In addition to the main awards, a number of special awards were given to the following vehicles:

Best Family Car for Value: ŠKODA SCALA

Best Hot Hatch for Value: Fiesta ST

Best Executive Car for Value: ŠKODA SUPERB

Best Electric SUV for Value: ŠKODA ENYAQ

Best Small SUV for Practicality: ŠKODA KAMIQ

Tow Car Award: Kia Sorento