Michael McAleer (Ireland)

My judgement is based on following grounds:

Alfa Romeo Giulia

Its handling is crisp and reassuring, the peppy 2.2-litre diesel challenges any similar-sized counterpart and the more you drive it, the more you want to drive it. Yet it still seems well behind the fit and finish – and tech - of rivals. With its future still in question and revolution in the air across the automotive world, Alfa needs to focus a lot more on the future and stop harking back to the past.


Citroën C3

The Citroen doesn’t drive as well as the Nissan Micra or many of its rivals. Yet it has more charm and character in its dashboard than the rest of the cars in this segment put together. The French firm claim it’s engineered for comfort, which on the road means it bounces along and leans into corners. Far from flawless, but it has great charm.


Mercedes Clase E

The Mercedes E-Class would need to be good, given the billions of euros invested in its development. Money well spent. The 2-litre diesel is excellent, the cabin is gorgeous and delectably over-engineered and the handling is surprisingly engaging, without a downside in ride quality. It keeps pace with the various strands of revolution underway in the automotive world, but remains an incredibly good car to drive.


Nissan Micra

This is the first Micra in years that you could consider buying. It drives noticeably better than the Citroen C3, although the little petrol engine spends a lot of its time at full screech. Scores for design and because it’s monumentally better than the last generation. But that’s not enough to win car of the year.


Peugeot 3008

It might look like just another SUV/crossover but inside it’s a revolution. Peugeot has pulled out all the stops in the cabin and it’s the most sophisticated offering from the brand I can remember. It also drives really well, particularly with the 1.6-litre diesel with automatic transmission. The petrol delivers as well. A car that easily copes with cross-country motorway runs or short school hops, this is the best family car Peugeot has offered in many years. More of this please.


Toyota C-HR

This supposedly represents the future of Toyota. The message is “no more boring cars”. If this proves to be the case then this truly is a landmark car. The styling divides opinion – l like it – and the cabin and finish is worthy of the premium Lexus brand. The new platform handles really well. Where it is let down is in its powertrain options. The hybrid just doesn’t do it justice. A great crossover, crying out for a more powerful engine.


Volvo S90/V90

A tough call on the Volvo, for it’s within a hair’s breadth of taking the lead on the Mercedes. The S90 scores for innovation, styling and individuality, something premium car buyers badly need. If your primary interest is in comfort and refinement – with some fancy tech - then the Volvo delivers, but the handling simply is not as sharp as the Mercedes. So close though.