Buying a new car? Doing your homework, drawing up a shortlist and comparing offers from dealers and online car sales sites?
This handy guide to the best new cars on sale in showrooms this month is your invaluable companion.
It will make sense of the daunting choice, highlighting a range of cars that are good at everyday tasks, from carrying the dog to ferrying the children to school – or even heading out for a fantastic sunny Sunday morning drive.
For going further on a tank of fuel:
Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion
Price: from £14,780
Fuel economy: 68.9mpg
Small but perfectly formed – that’s the Volkswagen Polo, especially the super-frugal BlueMotion model. It’s been designed and engineered to be as economical as possible, so it uses a three-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine that sips fuel like a mouse drinking dew drops.
It also features special tyres with low rolling resistance, tall gear ratios to keep the engine revs low on the motorway and a discreet bodykit that helps the car pass through the air with the minimum resistance. The end result is a super little hatchback, with a posh-feeling, comfortable cabin, that can travel more than 68 miles on a gallon of petrol.
For carrying the dog:
Skoda Superb Estate
Price: from £19,840
Boot capacity: 660-litres
The only thing funny about Skodas these days is that if you haven’t tried one the joke’s on you.
The new Superb Estate is a great family car and ideal for anyone with a posse of pooches straining at the leash. Its spacious boot – a capacity of 660-litres makes it one of the biggest estate cars on sale – is easy for man’s best friend to jump into (Chihuahuas excepted) and there’s lots of space for hounds to stretch out in. For pet owners, the Superb is comfortable, feels robustly built and offers a wide range of engines and trim levels to suit most needs.
For the school run:
Price: from £17,595
Neat feature: MZD-Connect smartphone integration
It’s good-looking, compact, fuel efficient and feels agile to drive, which makes Mazda’s CX-3 crossover a great car for drivers wanting an affordable family car that can handle the school run without breaking a sweat.
It comes with a choice of petrol or diesel engines, two or four-wheel drive and with manual or automatic gearboxes. The CX-3 also has Mazda’s excellent MZD-Connect system, which seamlessly integrates smartphones so you’ve got easy control over your music, phone, internet-based apps and navigation. As crossovers go, the CX-3 is one of the best in showrooms.
For big families:
Price: from £45,750
Jeremy Clarkson rated the old Volvo XC90 so highly that he owned four of them. But even he admits that buying the fourth was a mistake: the new model has been improved in every area imaginable. If you have a large family, and need a seven-seat car, it’s hard to beat the comfort and space on offer inside the 2015 XC90.
I should know; my three children – a two-year-old and a seven-year-old in child seats and the third, an 11-year-old who no longer needs a seat – could sit across the middle row of seats in complete comfort. I could count on one hand the number of cars that do the same. The fact that it’s luxurious inside, refined on the road and surprisingly capable off-road is the icing on the cake for this family SUV.
Lotus Evora 400
Price: from £73,000
0-60mph: 4.1 seconds
Hold on tight, because this delicate-looking little sports car can blow your socks off and stand your hair on end. The Evora 400 is a new version of the Evora, the 2+2 seat sports car from Britain’s legendary car maker, and the ‘400’ refers to the power of the supercharged 3.5-litre V6 engine.
In a light, mid-engined car like this, that’s enough power to pull away from a Porsche 911 and Aston Martin V8 Vantage S. Impressive, you’re thinking, but what’s it like to live with and how soon will it fall apart? The answers are surprisingly comfortable and pleasingly durable.
Lotus has made many improvements to the Evora and it’s much more practical and a lot smarter inside than before.