The 50 best cars for 2024 - and the winner is ...

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We reveal our top 10 cars for next year and why they are the best

And so we come to our top 10 cars for 2024. Agreeing inclusion in the 50 is relatively easy, but allocating the top 10 always provokes debate.

We are sure you will disagree with our choices and rankings. The hardest choice was between the top three and on January 3rd, we’ll publish a twin test that will go a long way to explain our thinking. In the meantime, here are the cars that we reckon are the cream of the crop for buyers in 2024.

10. Ford Focus

Ford Focus 2023

The Ford Focus will not be in production much longer. So why is an aged, dying model sitting pretty in our top-10? Because a drive of the updated version (new styling, new touchscreen mostly) reminded us what an absolute gem of a car it is. The steering and chassis are peerless not just within their class, but across many other classes too. It is roomy enough for family life, solidly built, and the 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine is frugal. If we had bought more of these, and fewer SUVs, the planet on which we live might be in better shape. Buy one while you still can. Read our review here.

  • Plus: Just astonishingly good to drive
  • Minus: Lots of dark, cheap plastic inside
  • Equals: Forget the SUVs, and get one of these

9. Dacia Jogger

Dacia Jogger

Forget the incoming all-electric reincarnation of the Renault 4 – the Jogger is the true inheritor of that car’s mantle. Cheap, roomy, practical, versatile. These are all very good things indeed, and they are what the Jogger excels at. It’s even perfectly pleasant to drive. The 1.0-litre petrol can feel a touch breathless at times, so go for the hybrid instead. And definitely tick the Sleep Pack option box that turns the Jogger into a double-bed camper van. Read our review here.

  • Plus: Nothing for the same money is more practical nor more useful
  • Minus: Wheezy 1.0, safety rating
  • Equals: The most sensible car at a sensible price

8. BMW M2


The M2 is both devil and angel in one. It is an angel thanks to its razor-sharp steering and exceptionally good handling. It is a devil in its blocky, ugly styling and its rising complexity. It’s true that the old M2 was smaller, lighter, simpler, and consequently more fun. But, with 460hp to play with, a howling soundtrack, and the possibility of having it with a manual gearbox, the M2 still has some cards to play. It is glorious, noisy, naughty fun in a world where such things seem to be dying out. Read our review here.

  • Plus: Performance, poise, noise
  • Minus: Looks, price, size
  • Equals: Get the manual

7. Toyota Prius

2023 Toyota Prius phev

Previously, the Prius was a staid, stolid, sensible thing that focused on eking out fuel mileage while largely ignoring every other aspect of driving. Now? It is a car that you might buy for its looks alone (it’s like a time-travelling concept car from a 1970s motor show) while it is also enjoyable and entertaining to drive. Plug-in hybrid power-train delivers exceptional economy and 80km of electric range – if you are diligent about charging, this is an electric car 90 per cent of the time. Read more here.

  • Plus: Stunning styling, fun handling, efficient PHEV drivetrain
  • Minus: Cabin does not live up to the price tag, small boot
  • Equals: Best Prius ever

6. MG 4

The new MG4 all-electric family hatchback

MG’s revival has been a major success story both in Ireland and across Europe, and it is not hard to see why. Quite apart from the hugely competitive pricing, there is the Lamborghini-like styling, the decent EV range, and the enjoyable handling – the MG4 is way more fun to drive than the equivalent Volkswagen ID.3. The cabin does feel a bit cheap, and the infotainment is awkward, but this is the best affordable electric car by far. Read more here.

  • Plus: Price, handling, range, looks
  • Minus: Fiddly infotainment, cheap cabin in places
  • Equals: Terrific affordable EV

5. Jeep Avenger

The Avenger could have been such a mess: take the chassis of an Opel Corsa-e and try to convince us that it can be a proper Jeep. The thing is, it actually works. The new 54kWh battery gives a range of 400km (that is claimed – 350-370km in the real world), the weight is kept under control, and it is rather charmingly fun to drive. It will even genuinely off-road a bit, and that is before the 4Xe four-wheel drive model arrives. Well-priced too. Read more here.

  • Plus: Looks, enthusiastic to drive, good battery
  • Minus: Cramped in the back
  • Equals: Jeep’s first EV is one of its best cars ever

4. Mercedes EQE SUV

Mercedes Benz EQE SUV

It is almost hard to believe that the EQE SUV and the EQS SUV are related. The bigger EQS rolls and wallows like an old battleship when the road gets twisty, but the EQE SUV stays level, sharp, and surprisingly rewarding behind the wheel. Well, as much as a 2.6-tonne SUV can be, at any rate. What you’ll really love are the range (500km easy, even on the motorway, with the aircon going), the space, and the comfort. You might be less keen on the price (chunky) and the build quality (surprisingly cheap in parts). Read our review here.

  • Plus: Range, driving experience, space
  • Minus: Looks anonymous, too many cheap plastics, weight, price
  • Equals: Buy the EQE saloon if you don’t really, really need the bigger boot

3. Hyundai Ioniq 6

Hyundai Ioniq 6

It was nip-and-tuck between the Hyundai, the BMW, and the BYD for the top spot, and it was the Seal’s sharper pricing and some quasi-premium touches that finally carried the day. If you prefer the Hyundai, we’d quite understand. Equally, if you can’t abide it, we’d understand that too – the styling is very “Marmite” (although we love it). Roomy and whisper-quiet inside, exceptionally long-ranged with the 77kWh battery, and soothing to drive. Read our review here.

  • Plus: The way it looks, the way it drives
  • Minus: The way it looks
  • Equals: Some people love Marmite

2. BMW i5

Thankfully, someone at BMW has managed to lock the design team in a cupboard and made them promise not to come out until they stopped lashing those bloody awful grilles on things. The new i5 (and the petrol and hybrid 5 Series) is so much the better for looking understatedly handsome. Rear-drive 40e is the best version, mixing decent (if not exceptional) range with deft handling. M60 has a 600hp sledgehammer hit, but it is no battery M5 in the corners. Even better; Touring estate arrives early next year. Read more here.

  • Plus: Understated, 40e is terrific all-rounder
  • Minus: Expensive, M60 rapid but not fun enough
  • Equals: An EV that feels (and looks) like a proper BMW

1. BYD Seal

The Seal should be proof that it is all about the battery – after all, BYD began life as a maker of batteries, but this sleek saloon proves something else. That BYD knows how to make a cracking car. Fast, sure-footed, long-ranged, and well-made. The Seal has hints of Tesla, Porsche and Maserati in its styling, but without looking like a pastiche of any of them. Quality levels are impressive, and four full-sized adults can travel comfortably. Better yet, the battery not only uses no nasty-to-mine cobalt, it is also used as a structural member of the car’s body, saving weight and increasing the body stiffness to a McLaren-like 40,500N.m/degree. The cherry on top is that bargain €40,000 price tag. Proof that the Chinese car makers really will conquer all? Just maybe… Read more here.

  • Plus: Great looking, great to drive, some premium cabin touches, very well priced
  • Minus: Cabin looks a bit overworked, over-eager safety systems
  • Equals: An exceptional performance that just pips its rivals for top spot

The best cars of 2023: 30-11

The best cars of 2023: 50-31

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Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe, a contributor to The Irish Times, specialises in motoring

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer is Motoring Editor, Innovation Editor and an Assistant Business Editor at The Irish Times