There’s a good chance 2019 will be seen as the year of the electric car in the motoring world.
New, affordable EVs were all the rage at this year’s car expos, while the Tesla-baiting Porsche Taycan made headlines for its rapid pace around the Nurburgring circuit in Germany. There are, however, plenty of other models powered by more conventional means that impressed the critics in 2019.
So here they are - the best cars that debuted over the past 12 months:
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Aston Martin DBX
It’s been four years in the making but Aston Martin’s DBX finally made its debut in production form in 2019. It’s the company’s first SUV – and it’s gunning for the Lamborghini Urus and Bentley Bentayga.
Despite its size, the DBX looks to have carried over some of the dynamic prowess that’s found in the British marque’s sports cars. “It’s notable how keenly the DBX grips and turns,” says Car magazine, and there’s a sense of agility that lets drivers flow from corner to corner with ease.
Electric cars and SUVs are among the most desired cars on the market, so Audi decided to put the two together and create the E-tron.
Unlike other electric cars, many of which sport futuristic looks and are covered in LEDs, Audi has taken a more conservative approach, in a bid to appeal to buyers looking for a conventional car without the carbon footprint.
“It’s a similar story inside,” says Evo, as the cabin adopts a near identical design to that of the A7. And, as you’d expect from an Audi, “it’s beautifully finished and reasonably practical”.
Ford Mustang Mach-E
Utter the Mustang name around car fans and there’s a good chance they’ll think of the iconic Ford muscle car that’s typically powered by a gas-guzzling V8 engine. That could soon change, however, as the company released an electric SUV in 2019 under the historic name.
The Mustang Mach-E is the company’s first mass-produced EV, taking design elements from the company’s V8 muscle cars and blending it with the practicality of a utility vehicle. It’s already proving to be controversial among “Mustang devotees”, notes Auto Express, but the Mach-E’s tall ride height is a nifty way of storing the vehicle’s batteries underneath the cabin.
Apple’s rumoured electric car has yet to materialise, but the new Honda e looks like it has come straight from Cupertino.
The electric car’s standard bold white exterior hints at the hi-tech powertrain beneath it, along with the array of displays and touchscreens on the inside. The EV is simply “dripping with tech”, The Daily Telegraph says, highlighted by the rear-facing cameras that act as wing mirrors. The infotainment screen even shows how much energy certain features, such as air conditioning, are using so drivers can better manage the car’s battery life.
Land Rover Defender
Land Rover’s iconic Defender has been on sale in various forms since the launch of the Series 1 in 1948. But the off-roader underwent its most comprehensive redesign to date in 2019 to establish itself as the best go-anywhere vehicle once again.
Though the critics have yet to deliver their final verdicts on the new Defender, their first impressions suggest the British marque has delivered an off-roader that lives up to its illustrious name. “Comfy, modern and dynamically sophisticated,” it’s clear the new Defender is up to the task, says Autocar.
Land Rover Range Rover Evoque
It may not look that different to its predecessor, but the second-generation Land Rover Range Rover Evoque presented a significant jump in build quality and interior tech when it arrived in showrooms earlier this year.
The stylish off-roader has “beautifully crisp surfaces” on the inside, says Pocket-lint, while all the “unnecessary switchgear” has been replaced by a touchscreen infotainment system and a digital instrument cluster.
“Comfortable over long distances, fun on the twisty routes (especially with the more powerful petrol engine) and impressive off-road, it is a machine that caters for all lifestyles,” the site concludes.
The Honda e won’t have the compact electric market all to itself in 2020 thanks to the Peugeot e-208. The EV is based on the company’s 208 hatchback, swapping out the vehicle’s combustion engine for a battery electric alternative.
CarBuyer hails the standard a 208 as a “firm family favourite”, which just goes to show that the EV version “is yet another indication that electric motoring is becoming increasingly mainstream”.
Porsche proved that you don’t need to be Tesla to launch a hyped-up electric car. The sports car maker’s first foray into the EV world – the Taycan – arrived a few months ago, and it seems to be off to a flying start.
“The way in which it delivers its power and torque is borderline undetectable, speed building with no real effort or input required from the driver,” says Evo.
“Away from the headline acceleration figures the Taycan feels so much more than a point and squirt performance car, you sense there’s an inherent dynamic level within it that is above any other electric car on sale.”
Toyota GR Supra
Toyota revived its Supra moniker earlier this year after a 17-year hiatus. The new model, called the GR Supra, is based on the latest BMW Z4 and uses the sports car’s 3.0-litre turbocharged engine – albeit in a higher state of tune.
While its German sibling is known for top-down cruising, the hard top-only GR Supra is better suited to driving enthusiasts. Auto Express’s Sam Naylor sums it up as “a brilliant sports car with an agile rear-wheel drive chassis, bold looks and quality damping that works well on British roads”.
Volkswagen Golf Mk8
The Volkswagen Golf is one of the best-selling cars of all time, so it comes as little surprise that the motoring giant launched an eighth-generation version of the popular hatchback just a few months ago.
Despite its iterative looks, Autocar’s Greg Kable says the new Golf “betters its predecessor in a number of key areas”, including a hi-tech cabin redesign that is a “revolution” over the old model. It’s also “a highly gratifying car to drive” and continues the VW tradition of delivering the “immediate feeling of deep-seated integrity from the very first mile”.
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