This is a specialist niche in the new car market, with driving experience taking priority over pretty much everything else.
We’re looking at high-performance versions of ordinary cars, rather than dedicated sports cars that are almost never put through Euro NCAP safety testing.
This is a category that looks set to be transformed in coming years, from today’s petrol-dominated market to a new generation of electric performance cars. We see the first signs of this in our award winners below, with a lot more to come for 2022 and beyond.
Our awards recognise both the best new models to have been launched over the last 12 months, but also the best overall cars in each category – because newer doesn’t always mean better, as you can see below.
Best new performance car: BMW 2 Series Coupé (77%)
Since first splitting away from the 1 Series hatchback on which it’s based, the BMW 2 Series Coupé has become a firm favourite with journalists and driving enthusiasts. It doesn’t pack the knockout punch of the M2 version that will land next year, but the regular 2 Series model shows that you can have a thoroughly enjoyable driving experience at legal speeds.
With impressive performance and high-quality interior design, the BMW 2 Series Coupé is a worthy winner of our Best New Performance Car award with an Expert Rating of 77%. Its smooth and responsive eight-speed automatic gearbox has been frequently praised, while the handling is notably agile. On top of this, you have a well-designed dashboard layout, intuitive infotainment system and even a decent-sized boot.
And while it’s certainly no oil painting, it is slightly less ugly than most models in the BMW range…
Class champion, petrol: Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio (89%)
It’s six years since the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio blazed its way onto the world’s roads, and it still rates more highly than pretty much anything with a price tag under £100K. Developed by a team of Alfa and Ferrari engineers, the twin-turbo, 500hp Giulia QV (Quadrifolgio Verde, or green four-leaf clover) has the sort of performance that can shame plenty of supercars – and the sort of syle that makes you wish BMW could draw cars like this.
With a stellar Expert Rating of 89%, the Ferrari-engined Giulia represents the last of its kind for one of the world’s oldest and most storied car companies. Get one soon before they’re gone forever.
Class champion, electric: Porsche Taycan (88%)
Even in its most basic form, the Porsche Taycan qualifies as a performance car. But in top-spec Turbo S spec, it offers 760hp – a number that puts it into genuine supercar territory.
Car enthusiasts have long feared that EVs will mean the death of sports cars, super saloons and hot hatches. But the Taycan, along with its closely related cousin, the Audi e-tron GT, have shown that this doesn’t have to be the case. Sure, things will certainly be different. But the future is much brighter than the doomsdayers would have you believe.
The Taycan offers superb driving dynamics for enthusiasts, combined with comfort and practicality for more mundane tasks like urban commuting. Plus you get the choice of liftback or estate body styles. Obviously this is a £100K+ machine, but the lessons Porsche has been learning with the Taycan will benefit the next generation of Volkswagen Golf GTI and other more-reasonably-priced vehicles.
The best new cars of 2022
Notes on eligibility
To be eligible for our Best New Model or Class Champion titles, there are a couple of requirements in addition to having a top Expert Rating score.
Firstly, the Best New Model must have been launched in the UK between 1 December 2021 and 1 December 2022. That means cars registered and on the road, not just available to order for deliveries starting sometime in 2023.
Secondly, a car must have a current Euro NCAP safety rating of either four or five stars. If a car scores three stars or less, we can’t in good conscience give it an award for being best in class. If a new model has not been tested by Euro NCAP by 1 December 2022, it will not be eligible but we will consider it next year if it has been tested.