Drive's verdict on the new cars of the year

2016 NIIB Finance Northern Ireland Car of the Year - Hyundai i20

:: 2016 NIIB Finance Northern Ireland Car of the Year - Hyundai i20

"Refined Hyundai makes big impression... The i20 is a veritable Tardis - when it comes to space for passengers and their chattels, it doesn't only comprehensively thump the Fiesta but its Focus big brother.

"Stylish, well built, refined and very roomy, the i20 marks another step forward for Hyundai. It is highly accomplished in a range of areas and joins the swots at the top of the small hatchback class."

:: Small car of the year - Mazda 2

"Mazda's current range is fantastic - good looking, wonderful to drive, value for money and a cut above the competition in whatever class its models compete.

"The driving position is spot-on, hands falling easily to a lovely sporty steering wheel, feet to carefully positioned pedals - these are subtle details, but they reflect the attention Mazda has devoted to getting everything just so."

:: Family car of the year - Seat Leon

"Good to drive, value for money, comfortable, stylish, well built and with acres of stowage space, the Leon should be on the shortlist of anyone looking for a family car."

:: Lifestyle car/SUV of the year - Suzuki Vitara

"The Vitara's suspension set-up, for example, could almost have been tuned exclusively for Northern Ireland's pockmarked roads, so well does it absorb bumps and poor surfaces.

"It is roomy inside, more than up to the challenges of its likely role of family taxi. My six-year-old junior tester gave the gave the Vitara an unusually big thumbs up - the back bench is bright and airy and there is loads of room for little legs."

:: Executive car of the year - Mazda 6 Tourer

"Alchemic 6 best-in-class... There's a lightness, a deftness of touch, in the way the Mazda 6 moves down the road that really sets it apart.

"Mazda's current crop of cars are among the best you can buy, and the 6 is no exception. It is nothing short of brilliant."

:: NIIB Fleet car of the year - Skoda Octavia 1.6 TDI SE Business Greenline

"The Octavia offers gargantuan luggage and passenger space, is comfortable, practical and feels like it will last a lifetime.

"It has as broad a repertoire of skills as you might hope for. It is also good value for money"

:: Sports and performance car of the year - Audi RS3

"Too fast, too furious... The RS3 is an Audi A3 that's been the gym. A lot. It's also taken far too many steroids and probably gargles rocket fuel and liquid mercury for kicks.

"Using man maths, this superlative hyper hatch can even be regarded as good value for money. Yes, £40k is a lot of money for a five-door family hatchback but arguably it's not a lot to pay for a car capable of beating up Porsches and making supercars cry."


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