Assembling the ‘best’ cars on sale, then.
This, on a website where opinion is not in short supply, is obviously as far from a breeze as you’d think it would be.
It works like this: an Autocar writer distributes a list of what he is absolutely sure are the best 50 cars on sale; the 50 cars that must be on the list. It is approximately 68 cars long.
He asks for feedback, and it is widely given, and so the ‘best 50 cars on sale’ list gains another 10 cars and then loses a few through immediate howled derision. And so begins a short series of exchanges and revisions until we have something we mostly agree on, based on our extensive testing experience, objective measurement and analysis, and, naturally, blind prejudice – because sometimes only the latter will do.
But then a curious thing happens, from around 15th position up to the top. From that point, there is less argument, more consensus. And when placings for the top 10 are being decided, and when we’re choosing which five cars to take away on extended test so we can decide their order – and by definition, determine the very best car on sale today – there is increasingly less and less division. Because car people know, and understand, that subtle mix of objective and subjective measurements that make a car not just good, but great.
You can read through our top 45 in the gallery above. It contains the broad spectrum of cars you'd expect from Autocar, from the Seat Ateca to the Ford Focus RS, and the Ferrari 488 to the Jaguar F-Pace.
Words by Nic Cackett, Andrew Frankel, Matt Prior and Matt Saunders