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The 10 worst new cars on sale in 2021

From superminis to SUVs and everything in between, we use our Expert Ratings Index to discover the worst new cars on UK roads

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Our industry-leading Expert Rating Index gets plenty of use from readers looking for the best cars to suit their needs, but it also gets a lot of interest from people looking for the brickbats as well as the bouquets.

By aggregating new car reviews from 25 different media titles, the Expert Rating Index doesn’t show you the best new cars on sale, but also the worst.

In a car industry that is constantly trying to evolve and innovate with the times, it is inevitable that some new cars will struggle to compete, whether they are older models that are falling behind the curve, or models that were simply sub-standard from the start

We’ve consulted the Expert Rating Index to find the ten worst new cars on sale in the UK, as judged by the country’s top motoring websites.

All of these cars are (or have been) available for sale in 2021, although several will be withdrawn or replaced before the end of the year. The good news is that you can pick most of these cars for a relative bargain – either brand new or second-hand – which makes them a lot more attractive.

With comprehensive review data backing the rankings below, you can be confident that this is the definitive guide to the worst new cars in the UK.

So without further ado, let’s count down from tenth worst to the very bottom of the pile…

10th place: Fiat 500L (47%)

Expert Rating: 47% from 33 reviews

The tenth-worst car here is the stalwart Fiat 500L, which has been on sale now for eight years. In that time the 500L has outlived other MPV competitors like the Ford B-Max and Vauxhall Meriva, and despite its 2017 facelift, it has been marked as a fairly mediocre choice in a hugely competitive market for crossover/SUV/estate things.

The Fiat 500L has attracted some admirers over its tenure, particularly for its unique styling and roomy cabin, but reviewers are quick to point out that there are more practical and refined alternatives available at around the same price, also offering better performance, a more comfortable ride quality, and a quieter engine.

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9th place: Smart EQ Fortwo (46%)

Expert Rating: 46% from 14 reviews

Designed to be the ultimate budget city car, the latest refresh of the Smart Fortwo coincided with the manufacturer’s rather bold step of making its range electric only in 2019, but unfortunately this has not improved the UK review ratings of this pint-sized EV one bit.

The Fortwo has often been described as fun to drive, and its size means that it is very agile in urban scenarios and quite easy to park.

However, the short battery range on the Smart Fortwo makes longer trips outside the city impossible. Add to this that there are cheaper city car alternatives like the Skoda Citigo with more storage space, rear seats and better infotainment and battery range, and you can see why the Fortwo may be a bad choice.

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8th place: Ford EcoSport (43%)

Expert Rating: 43% from 19 reviews

Launched in the UK in 2013, it is fair to say the the Ford EcoSport did not get off to a great start, being poorly received across the entire of the UK motoring media for being a substandard package in pretty much every area.

The EcoSport was markedly improved by its 2017 facelift, which greatly improved its interior trim, exterior design, and tech feature line-up, but it still faces very tough competition from SUV alternatives with more value for money, more practical features, and better performance.

The Ford EcoSport even has competitors within the Ford family, the 2020 arrival of the energetic yet sensible Ford Puma suggesting the EcoSport’s days are numbered. Pricing has been removed from the Ford UK website, and it seems that they are no longer available to order online.

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7th place: Smart EQ Forfour (43%)

Expert Rating: 43% from 8 reviews

The second Smart entrant on this list just pips the Ford EcoSport for 7th place, with an Expert Rating that’s just under 43% compared to the Ford being just over 43%. Er, congratulations?

The Smart Forfour suffers from a lot of the same ailments as its sister model the Fortwo; it has only a little boot space and a poor battery range, and simply does not stand up very well to other city car options like the Skoda Citigo or Volkswagen Up.

The Forfour does have more cabin room than other Smart models, and is very nimble in tight urban areas, but from a value for money perspective, it is the worst compact EV you can buy today. This likely explains why only eight media outlets have test driven the Forfour after four years on sale; perhaps Smart would rather journalists not drive it at all…

Having received largely negative reviews acros the board in recent times, it is clear to see why Smart has only sold just over 1,000 vehicles in the UK so far this year.

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6th place: MG 3 (42%)

Expert Rating: 42% from 18 reviews

MG Motor’s attempt at cornering the supermini market, the MG 3 was originally launched in 2014, and had its most recent facelift in 2019, maintaining its track record of fairly negative reviews throughout its lifespan.

The MG 3 has been frequently commended for its affordability and extensive warranty, and did show some promise as the budget alternative in the supermini class, that was until the arrival of the Dacia Sandero, which is a better car in every aspect for the same price.

Reviewers generally conclude that an MG 3 test drive makes for a very uninspiring driving experience; the MG 3’s wheezy and under-powered engine, cheap interior trim, and lack of basic safety features and infotainment gadgets culminating in what is a very underwhelming car.

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5th place: MG ZS (41%)

Expert Rating: 41% from 16 reviews

MG Motors has been a sales success over the last few years, with the MG ZS leading that charge, but media reviewers haven’t been as kind as customers. The ZS languishes with an Expert Rating score of just 41% – although the electric ZS EV version does do better, with a score of 56%.

One of the unique positives of the MG ZS is its seven-year new car warranty, and this budget SUV does offer great value for money, offering a starting price far lower its rivals. However, MG have been outclassed again by Dacia, as the Dacia Duster is a better package than the MG ZS in every category, and all for the same price.

Much like the MG 3 supermini, the MG ZS has received criticism from the UK media for its cheap build quality, poor safety rating and its inferior engine quality. In summary, it’s good value but not really a good car.

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4th place: Nissan e-NV200 Combi (39%)

Nissan e-NV200 Combi (2014 onwards) – Expert Rating

Expert Rating: 39% from 13 reviews

An all-electric seven-seat people carrier that’s essentially a modified delivery van, the Nissan e-NV200 Combi is certainly not one of the most comfortable passenger vehicles you can buy. The e-NV200 Combi seems to have had a polarising effect on the UK media; some think it is great, while others conclude that it is simply terrible.

Devoid of industry awards, the e-NV200 Combi does have one unwanted accolade to its name; the MPV received the lowest score ever given in an Auto Express review. Particular criticism is directed at the e-NV200 Combi’s poor safety standards and so-so battery range.

Nonetheless, the Nissan e-NV200 Combi does have low running costs on its side, along with a roomy interior and the fact that it has spent most of its life in a category of its own. That changed this year with the arrival of the Vauxhall Combo-e Life and its Peugeot and Citroën siblings, and the e-NV 200 is soon to be put of its misery, to be replaced by an all-new model called the Townstar.

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3rd place: Mitsubishi Shogun Sport (34%)

Expert Rating: 34% from 13 reviews

The biggest member of the Mitsubishi line-up, the Shogun Sport is seven-seat SUV that has received plaudits from the UK media for its capable towing ability, off-road talents and its spacious interior. However, this is where the positives abruptly end.

Compared to its rivals in the mainstream large SUV category like the Kia Sorento and SsangYong Rexton, the Mitsubishi Shogun Sport has a dated interior trim that lacks refinement, poor engine quality with excessive fuel consumption and a poor ride quality on the road.

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2nd place: Mitsubishi ASX (31%)

Expert Rating: 31% from 13 reviews

The oldest model on this list, the Mitsubishi ASX has been on sale since 2010, and is very much showing its age as a new car. Despite four separate facelifts throughout its lifetime, reviewers collectively come to the conclusion that the ASX has been consistently behind the curve in every aspect, and it is the lowest rated SUV in our Expert Rating index.

Life wasn’t always so bleak for the Mitsubishi ASX; the SUV was given a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP after its launch, but this accolade has since expired. Reviews of the latest iteration of the ASX comment that, although the infotainment system is now of a decent standard, there are far better alternatives that offer superior driving characteristics and interior appeal for the same price.

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1st place: Mitsubishi Mirage (21%)

Expert Rating: 21% from 12 reviews

The reluctant ‘winner’ of the competition for the worst new car sold in the UK in 2021, completing the all-Mitsubishi podium, is the rather bad Mitsubishi Mirage.

The Mirage is the lowest rated car in the entire of our Expert Rating index of more than 300 cars, with a score 10% lower than any other candidate. Launched in the UK in 2013, the Mitsubishi Mirage has had consistently abysmal reviews throughout its tenure; the decent fuel economy and generous cabin space of the Mirage seriously hampered by its drab and dated interior, poor steering dynamics, and its noisy and underwhelming engine.

If you are curious about how truly inadequate the Mirage is, it seems you do not have long to book a test drive; Mitsubishi is withdrawing from Europe, and is down to its last few cars before it runs out of stock. Therefore, you are fast running out of time if you would ever want to pick up a new Mirage.

That said, you won’t face that much competition, due to its retreat from the UK market, the semiconductor chip shortage, and general lack of interest from UK buyers, Mitsubishi only registered 40 new cars in the whole of September 2021.

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For the definitive rankings of the worst new cars on sale in 2021, we’ve used The Car Expert’s industry-leading Expert Rating index. The index analyses new car reviews from 25 of the top UK motoring websites, using an advanced algorithm that we have developed specifically to compare review scores.

It constantly recalculates and updates the Expert Rating score for every single car in real time to make sure you’re getting the most accurate and reliable ratings for every new car.

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Sean Rees
Sean Rees
Sean is the Deputy Editor at The Car Expert. A enthusiastic fan of motorsport and all things automotive, he is accredited by the Professional Publishers Association, and is now focused on helping those in car-buying need with independent and impartial advice.