We are currently experiencing the golden age of variety in the motoring world. Twenty years ago, you had a choice of saloon, estate, hatchback and convertible body styles to choose from.
If you wanted something else then too bad, that was it. Today though you can be rolling around in a mid-sized SUV with all-wheel-drive, two doors and a convertible roof. Or how about a coupe-like saloon with a hatchback boot opening? All of these weird and wonderful combinations are now on offer. This strange obsession to fill every possible niche has resulted in a huge range of offerings from most major auto makers.
So, we started to wonder whether there was one manufacturer that could satisfy your every motoring need. A one stop shop where you could find everything from a city car to a family SUV right up to an overpowered sports car under one roof. We did the heavy lifting and selected a few manufacturers that came closest to satisfying eveey need.
Nissan – The Affordable One
Nissan may seem like an unlikely candidate here but it actually offers a suitably diverse range of models and aside from the lack of a true luxury saloon, it covers just about every base.
The Leaf is perfect for short trips around the city and the latest generation has a larger 40kWh battery pack and more powerful 148-bhp motor so you can go further and faster than ever before. But not at the same time.
The Qashqai is the UK’s best-selling SUV so it must be doing something right. The secret to its success lies in a range of frugal engines, good interior space and quality and very attractive pricing. As a budget-oriented family vehicle, it is one of the best out there.
While the range may be missing a large luxury saloon (The U.S. market does get a 300-bhp Maxima) you could always use the evergreen GT-R as both weekend toy and CEO conveyance.
It does project a rather aggressive image though but sometimes that is what’s needed during a tough negotiation.
Porsche – The Expensive One
Porsche is now part of the VW Group and that gives it access to the modular MQB platform which underpins a number of different vehicles.
This means that whereas in the ‘90s you could have a 911 or a 911, nowadays there are five distinct body styles (well four if you consider the Cayman to be a Boxster Coupe) and dozens of engine configurations. Click on to see our choices.
The Macan is the city runabout, it seats five and in base 252-bhp V6 form is a snip at just under £46,000. The 400-bhp Macan Turbo is a tad pricier at £64,000 but you are guaranteed to get the kids to school on time every day.
If your city driving duties do not involve kids then either the Cayman or Boxster will do nicely. Of course, all of these cars are capable of a lot more but we have even more impressive machines for out of town duties.
We have picked the Cayenne as our long-distance family car. The latest generation has just been released and while it may have a lot in common with the similarly sized Audi and VW SUVs, there is no doubting its abilities.
The 462-bhp E-Hybrid model should keep your fuel bills low too, because that is what someone buying a £67,000 Porsche SUV is concerned about.
Business meetings out of town sometimes require you to take your own car. Arriving in a family SUV or sports car may send the wrong message, so that is why the understated but very capable Panamera comes in.
Now available in a hatchback-style Sport Turismo body shape too, you can show your shareholders that you are both practical and aware of outward appearances.
You may as well get the 550-bhp Turbo model, it may start at £115,000 but it looks just like the base model so no one will know how much you spent.
For the weekends you will want to revert to the most iconic sports car of them all, the 911. The range starts at a rapid 370-bhp Carrera and finishes at a ballistic 700-bhp GT2 RS.
In between those two extremes there are convertibles, Targas, AWD, RWD and track-focused variants to choose from. We would pick the GT3 TP for its awesome naturally-aspirated engine and that manual transmission but you really can’t go wrong here.
Jaguar – The Versatile One
Jaguar has expanded its range to cover almost as many bases as its German rivals. In fact, with the introduction of the all-electric I-Pace it has beaten them to the punch in the move towards a broader range of hybrid and electric offerings.
There are also plenty of saloons and conventionally-powered SUVs as well as the sporty F-Type to pick from.
Starting at £28,545, the E-Pace is an affordable entry into the compact luxury SUV segment. You may only get a 150-bhp turbo diesel engine but that is plenty for the city and you can get up to a combined 60.1mpg.
The I-Pace is the latest in Jaguar’s expanding range, it is the first all-electric Jag and is a properly good effort that matches up well to the Tesla Model X.
At £63,495 for the base model you will need deep pockets though but it is a great alternative to the E-Pace and F-Pace if you can afford it.
We chose the XF Sportbrake as the family hold all, it can be had in a number of engine options and is just as spacious inside as the more expensive F-Pace SUV. You can also have it with a 300-bhp turbo diesel which gets you to 60mph in under 6-seconds.
The XJ has been around for 6-years now, it may be older than most of the competition but it still looks as good as ever. Thanks to the long-wheelbase version it is perfect for the high-powered CEO who prefers not to do the driving.
While most Jags are fun to drive, for the biggest thrills in the range you will need the F-Type. Available in coupe and convertible forms and engines ranging from a 300-bhp 4-cylinder to a 575-bhp supercharged V8, there is an F-Type for every taste.
BMW – The Sporty One
BMW’s range was limited to just five models in the early ‘90s. The Z3 roadster and X5 SUV were just the start, today there are over twenty different models to choose from, some bewilderingly obtuse, like the hatchback-styled 3-Series GT and coupe-shaped X models.
The i-range are also built on a totally different platform and BMW is not done yet. They plan to introduce a totally new hybrid and EV range of cars over the coming years. For now, though, we have picked the best cars that meet our city/family/business and weekend fun requirements.
The all-electric i3 is the ideal city companion, it can seat up to four and you will be surprised at how quick it is off the line. The range extender version adds a small petrol generator that reduces range anxiety especially if you live in an area where charging points are few and far between.
The X3 is the perfect family car, it is big enough to pack for a family road trip and compact enough to be useful around town too.
The hi-tech options list and wide range of engines means that you can spec one to suit your exact requirements. Another great alternative is the latest 5-series estate, it’s just as spacious and drives even better.
The M760Li xDrive is the second fastest BMW on sale today. The new M5 is the fastest. Still, for ultimate luxury you will want the 7-Series.
It has a massive twin-turbo V12 that makes 610-bhp and will ensure that you arrive at every business meeting half an hour early.
The M2 Competition is the latest addition to the M range, it now uses the twin-turbo 3.0-litre motor from the M3 and now makes 410-bhp. For weekend fun, this is the one to have.
Volkswagen – The One That Does It All
The VW range has been quite extensive for a number of years now, it covers everything from the smallest budget city cars right up to big SUVs.
Thanks to that versatile design platform and the technology sharing between the many brands it controls, the latest VWs offer a lot for the money. Our choices here highlight some of the better options on offer. If your budget doesn’t quite stretch to BMW/Audi/Mercedes levels then this is an excellent alternative.
Tiny city cars come and go but the up! has been around for a while now and remains a very popular option in its segment. The base up! offers 68.9mpg but only 60-bhp so you may want to look at the 90-bhp version which offers the same mpg but can actually get out of its own way.
The up! GTI is even nippier with its 115-bhp motor. We would give the all-electric e-up! a skip though, at £25,640 it costs almost twice as much as the up! GTI and you would have to drive forever before you recouped those costs.
The Golf Hatchback is great, but if you need to pack in two kids, a plastic push bike or two and some luggage then the Estate variant is where it’s at. If you want to venture off-road then take a look at the higher-riding Alltrack.
The Estate R may well be one of the most well-rounded cars on the market today. Fast, spacious and practical to boot. And a spacious boot.
The Touareg may not look like a Cayenne but the important bits under the skin are very similar. Sure, you can’t order your Touareg with a twin-turbo V8 but there is a 262-bhp (282-bhp in the latest gen) 3.0-litre turbo diesel which is perfect for any road trip.
Add in some very advanced tech and you have one of the most accomplished SUVs on the market without paying the badge premium. The very latest generation has just been launched so make sure you get the new one.
The Arteon is a curious entrant into VW’s range, it offers a lot of luxury and power but its pricing also puts it uncomfortably close to entry-level Audis that offer much of the same.
Nevertheless, if we are to stick to the VW badge then the sleek Arteon is the perfect fit for the businessman/woman who isn’t a badge snob but still likes their creature comforts.
The GTI invented this segment in 1974 and continues to be the benchmark to this day. If it is to be used as a fun after-hours toy then it will have to be the AWD 310-bhp Golf R.
Despite its performance capabilities, it remains a very useable daily driver too if needs be. Did we mention it comes in an estate version too? Of course we did.