Automotive

Everyday driver: The best production cars of 2016

Everyday driver: The best prod...
BMW puts the finishing touches on the 5 Series
BMW puts the finishing touches on the 5 Series
View 78 Images
The new Hyundai i30 at launch
1/78
The new Hyundai i30 at launch
The new Hyundai i30 has a much more sophisticated interior than before
2/78
The new Hyundai i30 has a much more sophisticated interior than before
Peter Schreyer has designed the new Hyundai i30
3/78
Peter Schreyer has designed the new Hyundai i30
The i30 debuts a new design language for Hyundai
4/78
The i30 debuts a new design language for Hyundai
The new Hyundai i30 will be available with a range of more powerful, more efficient engines
5/78
The new Hyundai i30 will be available with a range of more powerful, more efficient engines
The i30 was launched at the Paris Motor Show in September
6/78
The i30 was launched at the Paris Motor Show in September
The new Hyundai i30
7/78
The new Hyundai i30
The BMW 5 Series will need to be good if it's to outdo the Mercedes E-Class and Volvo V90
8/78
The BMW 5 Series will need to be good if it's to outdo the Mercedes E-Class and Volvo V90
The new 5 Series has been set up to look very similar to its predecessor
9/78
The new 5 Series has been set up to look very similar to its predecessor
The new BMW 5 Series is more aerodynamically efficient than the car it replaces
10/78
The new BMW 5 Series is more aerodynamically efficient than the car it replaces
The new 5 Series will take on the E-Class in the semi-autonomous sphere
11/78
The new 5 Series will take on the E-Class in the semi-autonomous sphere
Even though it's bigger than before, the new 5 Series is lighter than the car it replaces
12/78
Even though it's bigger than before, the new 5 Series is lighter than the car it replaces
The new 5 Series will be available with all-wheel drive across the range
13/78
The new 5 Series will be available with all-wheel drive across the range
The new 5 Series is loaded with semi-autonomous driver assists
14/78
The new 5 Series is loaded with semi-autonomous driver assists
The new 5 Series will form the base for a new M5 next year
15/78
The new 5 Series will form the base for a new M5 next year
BMW puts the finishing touches on the 5 Series
16/78
BMW puts the finishing touches on the 5 Series
The new Land Rover Discovery launched at the Paris Motor Show this year
17/78
The new Land Rover Discovery launched at the Paris Motor Show this year
Boxy is out, smooth is in with the new Discovery
18/78
Boxy is out, smooth is in with the new Discovery
The new Discovery is prettier than before, but it should still be practical too
19/78
The new Discovery is prettier than before, but it should still be practical too
The new Discovery follows the styling direction set by the Evoque and Range Rover Sport
20/78
The new Discovery follows the styling direction set by the Evoque and Range Rover Sport
The seats in the Land Rover Discovery can be controlled using a smartphone app
21/78
The seats in the Land Rover Discovery can be controlled using a smartphone app
Staring into the eyes of the new Land Rover Discovery
22/78
Staring into the eyes of the new Land Rover Discovery
A cutaway look at the Land Rover Discovery
23/78
A cutaway look at the Land Rover Discovery
24/78
Lexus initially revealed the LC500 as a concept
25/78
Lexus initially revealed the LC500 as a concept
People loved the concept LC500 so much, it was put into production
26/78
People loved the concept LC500 so much, it was put into production
The LC500 is a new flagship for Lexus
27/78
The LC500 is a new flagship for Lexus
Not everyone will like the LC500's styling, but you can't accuse Lexus of playing it safe
28/78
Not everyone will like the LC500's styling, but you can't accuse Lexus of playing it safe
The LC500 is available with a hybrid, or a naturally aspirated V8
29/78
The LC500 is available with a hybrid, or a naturally aspirated V8
The new LC500 hybrid debuts a new type of CVT transmission
30/78
The new LC500 hybrid debuts a new type of CVT transmission
The LC500 has show car looks, but is all street legal
31/78
The LC500 has show car looks, but is all street legal
The LC500 on the floor of the Detroit Auto Show
32/78
The LC500 on the floor of the Detroit Auto Show
The new Golf range, side-by-side
33/78
The new Golf range, side-by-side
The new Golf looks a lot like the old Golf, but that's no bad thing
34/78
The new Golf looks a lot like the old Golf, but that's no bad thing
The new infotainment system in the Golf borrows from concept cars launched earlier this year
35/78
The new infotainment system in the Golf borrows from concept cars launched earlier this year
The Golf GTE looks meaner than before
36/78
The Golf GTE looks meaner than before
The new Golf will be available in the usual range of different spec options
37/78
The new Golf will be available in the usual range of different spec options
The new GTI is more powerful than before
38/78
The new GTI is more powerful than before
The new Golf GTI rides on new wheels
39/78
The new Golf GTI rides on new wheels
VW hasn't messed with the formula too much in the new Golf
40/78
VW hasn't messed with the formula too much in the new Golf
The Volvo V90 is a wagon with pedigree
41/78
The Volvo V90 is a wagon with pedigree
The V90 isn't boxy like past Volvos, but it's still very practical
42/78
The V90 isn't boxy like past Volvos, but it's still very practical
A big panoramic sunroof should make for a light, airy cabin in the V90
43/78
A big panoramic sunroof should make for a light, airy cabin in the V90
The V90 is built on the same platform as the S90 sedan
44/78
The V90 is built on the same platform as the S90 sedan
The new Thor's Hammer headlamps from the XC90 make an appearance on the V90
45/78
The new Thor's Hammer headlamps from the XC90 make an appearance on the V90
The Volvo iron mark stands proud on the nose of the V90
46/78
The Volvo iron mark stands proud on the nose of the V90
The Volvo V90 isn't your grandpa's Volvo, but that's a good thing in this case
47/78
The Volvo V90 isn't your grandpa's Volvo, but that's a good thing in this case
Forget an SUV, we want a V90 estate
48/78
Forget an SUV, we want a V90 estate
Like the Hyundai i30, the Kia Rio was designed by Peter Schreyer
49/78
Like the Hyundai i30, the Kia Rio was designed by Peter Schreyer
The Rio on the floor of the Paris Motor Show
50/78
The Rio on the floor of the Paris Motor Show
The Rio has a stiffer bodyshell than before
51/78
The Rio has a stiffer bodyshell than before
Kia has spent plenty of time making sure the cabin of the Rio looks and feels more premium
52/78
Kia has spent plenty of time making sure the cabin of the Rio looks and feels more premium
The Rio was designed by Peter Schreyer
53/78
The Rio was designed by Peter Schreyer
There is a clear resemblance between the Kia Rio and Hyundai i30 from the rear
54/78
There is a clear resemblance between the Kia Rio and Hyundai i30 from the rear
The new Kia Rio is the Korean brand's best looking car yet
55/78
The new Kia Rio is the Korean brand's best looking car yet
The new Rio on the floor of the Paris Motor Show
56/78
The new Rio on the floor of the Paris Motor Show
Mercedes has launched the new E-Class with its most advanced self-driving software 
57/78
Mercedes has launched the new E-Class with its most advanced self-driving software 
The Mercedes E-Class was launched at the Detroit Auto Show
58/78
The Mercedes E-Class was launched at the Detroit Auto Show
Two screens make up the E-Class' infotainment and driver readouts
59/78
Two screens make up the E-Class' infotainment and driver readouts
The E-Class looks just like a shrunken S-Class 
60/78
The E-Class looks just like a shrunken S-Class 
Mercedes is offering matte finishes on the E-Class, but we've never seen a matte car in the wild
61/78
Mercedes is offering matte finishes on the E-Class, but we've never seen a matte car in the wild
The E-Class will drive itself up to 210 km/h on the highway
62/78
The E-Class will drive itself up to 210 km/h on the highway
The rear of the new Mercedes E-Class
63/78
The rear of the new Mercedes E-Class
The new E-Class has a business class cabin
64/78
The new E-Class has a business class cabin
The Audi A5 proves square edged design needn't be boring
65/78
The Audi A5 proves square edged design needn't be boring
The new Audi A5 builds on the A4 chassis
66/78
The new Audi A5 builds on the A4 chassis
The Audi A5 is much lighter than the car it replaces
67/78
The Audi A5 is much lighter than the car it replaces
Inside, the A5 has a gorgeous cabin
68/78
Inside, the A5 has a gorgeous cabin
The new Audi S5 makes the formula a bit sportier
69/78
The new Audi S5 makes the formula a bit sportier
Audi has a knack for interiors, and the A5 proves straight edges needn't be boring
70/78
Audi has a knack for interiors, and the A5 proves straight edges needn't be boring
Under the skin of the new Audi A5
71/78
Under the skin of the new Audi A5
There's no doubt this is an Audi - just look at the grille
72/78
There's no doubt this is an Audi - just look at the grille
The new Ford Fiesta range sitting side-by-side
73/78
The new Ford Fiesta range sitting side-by-side
The Fiesta in ST-Line trim
74/78
The Fiesta in ST-Line trim
The Fiesta Titanium is designed to appeal to a wide range of buyers
75/78
The Fiesta Titanium is designed to appeal to a wide range of buyers
The Ford Fiesta Vignale is aiming upmarket
76/78
The Ford Fiesta Vignale is aiming upmarket
The Active Ford Fiesta sits higher than the regular car
77/78
The Active Ford Fiesta sits higher than the regular car
The Ford Fiesta Vignale looks prettier inside
78/78
The Ford Fiesta Vignale looks prettier inside

We spend a lot of time covering big, exciting launches here at New Atlas, but there's more to the automotive world than glitzy concept cars and fire-breathing supercars. This year has seen plenty of production cars launched that, although not always staggeringly beautiful or scarily fast, represent huge steps forward – both for their manufacturers and the people who buy them. Read on for our pick of the best "regular" cars launched this year.

Hyundai i30

The new Hyundai i30 at launch
The new Hyundai i30 at launch

Hyundai has come a long way from its economy car roots. The new i30 represents a new level for the South Korean company, and should make benchmarks like VW and Mazda very nervous. Penned by ex-Audi designer Peter Schreyer, best known for his work on the first Audi TT, it debuts the styling direction which will underpin the next generation of Hyundai.

On the inside, a real focus was placed on using premium materials. It looks good in photos, and the inclusion of Apple CarPlay/Android Auto prove Hyundai isn't playing catchup in the technology stakes, but we'll reserve final judgement until we can have a proper poke around.

Under the skin, the new i30 chassis will serve as the base for the first ever N Performance car, set to go head-to-head with the Golf GTI and Peugeot 308 GTI. Hyundai has been building hype about its first foray into the performance car world for months now, and if the concept car launched in Paris is anything to go by, the faster i30 will be an absolute weapon. Expect pricing for the standard car to start around US$19,000.

BMW 5 Series

The new 5 Series is loaded with semi-autonomous driver assists
The new 5 Series is loaded with semi-autonomous driver assists

Since the E12 launched in 1972, the BMW 5 Series has remained the benchmark luxury saloon. Technology has advanced, fashions have changed, but BMW has always been one step ahead of the game. At least it always was. Even though it's only six years old, the current F50 5 Series has fallen behind the curve, lacking the super-smart semi-autonomous features available on the new Mercedes E-Class and Volvo V90.

In November, the world finally found out how BMW plans to regain its crown. It might look similar to its predecessor, but the seventh-generation 5 Series is a much smarter animal under the skin. The new chassis is longer and wider than before, but BMW has cut 100 kg (220 lb) from the curb weight. Shutters behind the kidney grille help keep the drag coefficient down to just 0.22, too, which will improve efficiency and keep the cabin quiet on the highway.

BMW still puts its reputation on building the Ultimate Driving Machine, but the 5 Series is all about self-driving tech. Not only will it keep pace with the car in front, it will follow lane markings up to 210 km/h (130 mph). If the driver wants to take control, a new chassis and adaptive suspension should help maintain the keen-driving feel that defines the current car. Pricing will start at US$60,900.

Land Rover Discovery

The seats in the Land Rover Discovery can be controlled using a smartphone app
The seats in the Land Rover Discovery can be controlled using a smartphone app

Not content with a practical – but somewhat unappealing looking – Discovery 4, Land Rover used the Paris Motor Show to launch a sexier new take on the legendary four-wheel drive.

Although it looks prettier than before on the outside, Land Rover says the new Discovery sacrifices nothing in terms of practicality. It still has room for seven, and the seats are staggered in height to make sure everyone has a good view out. The third row should even be able to house adults, although you still wouldn't want to be stuck back there for too long.

Seats in the back two rows can be individually folded using a smartphone app, and there are enough USB ports to keep the kids charged up and happy on long road trips. There's room for a full-size iPad in the center console, and storage bins scattered around all the door pockets for snacks and oddments. We wouldn't go so far as saying the new Discovery makes practicality sexy, but it makes a seriously good fist of it. You'll pay upwards of $49,990.

Lexus LC500

The LC500 is a new flagship for Lexus
The LC500 is a new flagship for Lexus

The LC500 was initially shown off as a concept, but the public liked it so much, Lexus decided to pull the trigger and put it into production. As you can see, there isn't much to set the production car apart from the concept on the outside. Say what you will about the angular look Lexus has adopted, but you could never accuse the design team of playing it safe.

Power comes from two wildly different powertrains. In keeping with the clean, green focus the brand has adopted, a hybrid will be offered alongside a free-revving V8. The hybrid is hooked up to a complex new gearbox, which adds a four-speed automatic gearbox to the CVT for a more direct feeling.

While there is a hybrid version, our attention is inevitably drawn to the V8, which is hooked up to a ten-speed automatic. Initial reviews suggest Lexus has hit the nail on the head, with a neat blend of ride comfort and outright performance to match the BMW 6 Series. Lexus is yet to announce pricing for the LC500, but expect it to start between $90,000 and $100,000.

Volkswagen Golf Mk7.5

The Golf GTE looks meaner than before
The Golf GTE looks meaner than before

Even though it isn't a brand new car, the Mk7.5 Golf goes further than your average midlife update. Inside, there's an overhauled infotainment system with gesture control and voice input, and the excellent Virtual Cockpit technology debuted in the Audi TT has completed its spread across the entire Volkswagen Group range.

The tech-heavy makeover extends to a range of semi-autonomous driver assist systems. A radar sensor hidden behind the Volkswagen badge means the new Golf can keep its lane and stay with stop-start traffic up to 60 km/h (37 mph) with no driver input. When the driver is in control, the car will sense if they fall asleep and, if a gentle nudge doesn't wake them, will gently pull the car to a stop in its lane.

Power comes from a refreshed range of engines, headlined by a new four-cylinder petrol dubbed TSI Evo. It makes 110 kW (148 hp) of power, and peak 250 Nm (184 lb.ft) of torque is available from just 1,500 rpm. Cylinder deactivation helps it return a claimed 4.9 l/100 km (57.6 mpg) on the New European Drive Cycle (NEDC). Pricing will start around $20,000.

Volvo V90

The new Thor's Hammer headlamps from the XC90 make an appearance on the V90
The new Thor's Hammer headlamps from the XC90 make an appearance on the V90

In a world fast being overrun by luxury four-wheel drives, it was high time for a hero to step up and make the estate cool again. Thankfully, Volvo wasn't willing to let the staple of its brand, the practical wagon, die without a fight. Quite a bit slinkier than the classic Swedish boxes-on-wheels, it proves the V90 proves the wagon still has a pulse.

Like the S90 it shares a platform with, the V90 is designed to deliver stress-free motoring. Volvo has dropped all pretense of sportiness, and instead focused on creating a car able to comfortable cart a family and all their junk for hours on end. A panoramic sunroof lets lots of light into cabin, which is finished in gorgeous tan leather and boasts a vertically-oriented touchscreen with Apple CarPlay.

As you'd expect of a Volvo, the V90 is loaded with all the safety equipment you could ever need. It will take care of steering, braking and acceleration up to 130 km/h (80 mph) and, if the driver ends up careening towards a ditch, prepares the seat belts and cabin to minimize the impact on passengers. The V90 starts at $56,295.

Kia Rio

The new Rio on the floor of the Paris Motor Show
The new Rio on the floor of the Paris Motor Show

Not content to let Hyundai steal all the spotlight, the Kia Rio signals a plan to challenge the Japanese and German class leaders. The brand has developed a clear design language since Peter Schreyer joined the team, and the Rio is one of the most attractive takes on the formula yet.

Huge strides have been made inside, too, where the hard black plastics of the old model have been replaced by soft touch materials and a new focus on premium design. A free-standing touchscreen handles infotainment, and the center console is angled towards the driver like it is in a classic BMW. It all looks good, but we'll have to poke around in person before passing final judgement. Pricing for the Rio will start at $16,345.

Mercedes E-Class

The E-Class will drive itself up to 210 km/h on the highway
The E-Class will drive itself up to 210 km/h on the highway

After months of drip-feeding information about its new E-Class, Mercedes finally launched its new midsize saloon at the Detroit Auto Show in January, where it quickly became clear the S-Class is no longer the boss in the three-pointed star range. The E-Class is absolutely loaded with self-driving smarts, led by a Drive Pilot system able to steer, accelerate and brake up to 210 km/h (130 mph).

Volvo has traditionally been known as the brand most concerned with safety, but Mercedes has an impressive list of world-first safety features in its history as well. The W213 E-Class may not be the first car to come with ABS or traction control, but it uses seat bolsters to push passengers away from an impending side-impact collision, and blasts pink noise at occupants to protect their ears from the potentially harmful noises caused by accidents.

Passengers will be able to enjoy a gorgeous business class cabin. The traditional dials are gone, replaced by a widescreen display that can be changed based on drive mode. Even better, all this tech is also available in Estate and All Terrain body styles. Pricing starts at $52,150.

Audi A5

The new Audi A5 builds on the A4 chassis
The new Audi A5 builds on the A4 chassis

Based on the A4 launched last year, the new Audi A5 is proof that square-edged teutonic design needn't be boring. Along with its very, very pretty face, the new A5 is much lighter than the car it replaces, and promises to deliver a much sharper drive than before as well.

Even though it's pretty on the outside, the most impressive element of the A5 is probably its interior. Like the sedan it's based on, the car has a sweeping dashboard and neatly arranged climate controls, but the star of the show is still the high-res Virtual Cockpit stolen from the TT. Pricing on the A5 will start at $42,150.

Ford Fiesta

The Fiesta in ST-Line trim
The Fiesta in ST-Line trim

In its current guise, the Ford Fiesta has been around for eight years, making it old news in the competitive world of compacts. Even though it handles well, modern buyers are more interested in easy connectivity and cabin space – boxes Ford has tried to tick with the new seventh-generation Fiesta, launched in Cologne last month.

To our eyes, the evolutionary styling is a bit boring, sticking too closely to the formula set by its predecessor. We're presuming the theory was if it ain't broke don't fix it, but a bit more excitement would have been nice. It's a very different story inside, where the button-heavy center console of the old car has been replaced with a slick new touchscreen.

Power will come from a range of downsized EcoBoost engines, and there are now four distinct trim levels available, starting with crowd-pleasing Titanium and extending up to premium-wannabe Vignale spec. Pricing hasn't been released for the Fiesta, but it start at the same $13,000 as the current model.

Check out all of the cars on this list in our 2016 production car photo gallery, and let us know your pick for car of the year in the comments below.

5 comments
KaiserPingo
There is one, and only ONE: Alfa Romeo Giulia ! The rest are just wannabe's.
JohnMetza
Who are you to decide which production car is the best? Don't you think that is a conflict of interest or have you lost all of your journalistic integrity? We can make up our own minds, we don't need your "help." Some of us know more about cars than you could ever dream of knowing.
Milton
The best daily drivers are the ones where you do the least amount of driving. Tesla should have made this list.
keith14
Neeeh the Alpha will be like the rest of their lineup of old, spending more time in the dealer's garage than your own!!
Island Architect
Simon Cox leads the way! And the Fiesta really is great too... far cry from when Pete Heftler and I used to run around in his Fiesta. Good stuff!