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A list of the best cars in the world could easily descend into a subjective, personal choice of high-performance cars. However, we think such high-calibre models are made up of more than super speeds and a superficial wow factor, so we took a different approach.

How We Ranked the Best Cars in the World

To find the real winners, we scanned prestigious car awards. Next, we tallied out which vehicles scored the most wins. Naturally, those with the most accolades under their belt, we ranked higher – simple. There were a few ties though, and in some cases there was no way to settle the difference, other than a little bit of personal judgement (and siding with whichever car awards were more illustrious). Even so, there were some clear winners in the podium top spots.

The 2018 awards we used were:

  • The World Car of the Year
  • The Car of the Year
  • The What Car? Car of the Year
  • The GQ Car Awards
  • The Sunday Times Motor Awards
  • The Autocar Awards
  • Bonus: The Top Gear Awards 2017, for past reference and awkward ties

2018’s Top 10 Best Cars in the World

We’re looking at style, reliability and tech. Put the pedal to the metal and check out our pick of 2018’s best cars in the world. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

1. VOLVO XC40

With no less than five prestigious accolades to its name, the Volvo XC40 rockets into first place with little competition. Amongst other awards, the XC40 is the overall winner in the What Car? Car of the Year Awards 2018, which is a huge feat. It’s also the winner by quite some margin of the European Car of the Year Award 2018. To top it off, this SUV champion is the number one pick in our top 10 Best Family SUVs. Unsurprisingly, it came first in our list of The Best Small SUVs, too.

Best features:

  • Overall winner of the What Car? Car of the Year
  • Winner of the European Car of the Year
  • Our top pick family SUV and small SUV

2. AUDI A8

Audi has fared well in our top 10s so far – we’ve featured the Audi Q7 e-tron in our list of The Best Hybrid SUVs and even the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron in our pick of The Best Hybrid and Electric Sports Cars. However, this is the first time the Audi A8 has made an appearance. This beautiful vehicle won the mega title of 2018 World Luxury Car at The World Car Awards, and is also a winner of the Luxury Car category in the What Car? Car of the Year Awards. GQ calls it a ‘technological marvel’ and Autocar describes it as ‘a true pioneer in a pioneering class.’ We couldn’t agree more.

Best features:

  • Winner of The World Car Awards
  • Winner of the What Car? Car Awards
  • A technological pioneer

3. RANGE ROVER VELAR

The Range Rover Velar came as a pleasant surprise, reaching third place with a total of three awards. It’s the SUV/crossover of the year according to the people’s vote in The Sunday Times. To the folk at GQ Magazine, it’s the car which can ‘Climb Every Mountain in Luxury.’ However, the Range Rover Velar’s most coveted title comes from The World Car Awards, where it won 2018 World Car Design of the Year. Surprisingly, this is the first time the Range Rover Velar has appeared in any of our top best car lists, although other excellent offerings from Land Rover certainly do.

Best features:

  • 2018 World Car Design of the Year – The World Car Awards
  • Climb Every Mountain in Luxury – GQ Award
  • SUV/Crossover of the Year 2018 – The Sunday Times Motor Awards

4. BMW 5-SERIES

From fourth place and below, the winners on this list won similar amounts of accolades, making it trickier to place the right car in its deserving spot. Not so much with the BMW 5-Series though. This vehicle sped into its position as the overall winner of the Luxury Car category and a winner in the Estate Car class in the What Car? Car of the Year Awards. It also reached third place with 226 points in the European Car of the Year Awards. Talk about winning some lofty titles!

Best features:

  • Overall luxury car winner
  • Best estate car
  • Third best car in the European Car of the Year Awards

5. VOLVO XC60

The XC60 won one of the highest titles in the automotive industry – 2018’s World Car of the Year at the World Car Awards. It’s also the overall winner of the Car Safety Award by What Car? The Volvo XC60’s practically flawless Euro NCAP safety rating also helped it secure first place in our pick of The Best Family Cars for Child Safety.

Best features:

  • 2018’s World Car of the Year
  • Overall winner of the Car Safety Award
  • One of our personal top picks

6. NISSAN LEAF

The Nissan Leaf is another pleasant addition to 2018’s best cars in the world. It might be a surprise to some that an electric vehicle scored so highly, but not to us. The Leaf is the go-to EV. It’s our top pick for The Best Electric Cars for New Drivers, as well as our number one choice for The Best Electric Cars in the UK. Unsurprisingly, it’s What Car Magazine’s Best Electric Car too. In the World Car Awards, the Nissan Leaf won the coveted title of 2018 World Green Car. Something tells us this little EV is going to be huge.

Best features:

  • 2018 World Green Car
  • Overall winner best electric car – What Car? Awards
  • Our top pick EV

7. JAGUAR I-PACE

The fact that two all-electric cars have made this top 10 tells us two things – public opinion of EVs is growing more favourable, and electric vehicles are becoming smarter and more advanced. The i-Pace certainly fits that bill. Interestingly, it’s also the winner of the What Car? Reader Award (given to the car readers vote as the most exciting car of the year). The Sunday Times consider it The Car of the Year 2018. Meanwhile, Autocar Magazine said the i-Pace ‘provides the blueprint for the future of the British car industry’ – high and worthy praise indeed.

Best features:

  • Winner of Readers’ Award
  • The Car of the Year 2018 – The Sunday Times Motor Awards
  • Technologically ground-breaking

8. HYUNDAI I30N

Hyundai’s first shot at a hot hatch has turned out brilliantly. It offers fantastic performance, it’s punchy, and it’s lots of fun to drive. The awards under the i30N’s belt reflect the car’s brilliant design and engineering. It’s a winner of What Car’s illustrious Best Hot Hatch title and GQ’s witty Life and Seoul Of the Party Award. In addition, the Hyundai i30N is a winner in the Autocar Awards. This impressive vehicle will certainly help shape Hyundai’s image in years to come.

Best features:

  • A winner of the Best Hot Hatch
  • An Autocar Game Changer winner
  • Could reinvent Hyundai’s image

9. HONDA CIVIC TYPE R

The Honda Civic Type R is another hot hatch that did well in the 2017 awards season. Back then, Top Gear Magazine selected it as the Car of the Year and the Hot Hatch of the Year/TG International Editors’ Choice. In this year’s awards, The Sunday Times shortlisted the Type R as one of the best British-built cars of 2018 – though it ultimately lost out to the Nissan Qashqai. On the other hand, it did land the coveted What Car? title of overall winner in the Best Hot Hatch category.

Best features:

  • Best Hot Hatch winner
  • Top Gear Car of the Year 2017
  • Runner-up as best British-built car

10. BENTLEY CONTINENTAL GT

The Bentley Continental GT proved a celebrated vehicle during the 2017 awards season, and it’s just as popular this year. GQ Magazine dished out prizes to this car for its stunning interior and exterior, and it’s easy to see why. As far as luxury cars go, the Bentley Continental GT is one of the finest, most exquisite cars on the market – offering true refinement and elegance. It’s no wonder then, that it won Luxury Car of the Year 2018 in The Sunday Times Motor Awards. It was also Top Gear Magazine’s GT of the Year in 2017.

Best features:

  • Luxury Car of the Year
  • GT of the Year
  • Award-winning interior

WANT TO FIND ONE OF OUR TOP PICKS FOR 2018? WE’VE GOT A HUGE SELECTION OF USED CARS TO CHOOSE FROM AT MOTORS.CO.UK

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Back to articles May 24, 2021

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