Autocar awards 2021: Alpine A110, Golf GTI and Defender named readers' champions

That’s why we left the final spot in our ultimate three-car garage for a new or used wildcard, costing up to £20,000. Unsurprisingly, this was the most open of all three categories in terms of votes – but the versatility that makes the original Land Rover Defender great helped it secure victory. We grouped all of the wildcard used Defender suggestions together, ranging from run-down project cars to ex-military Wolf 90s.

Certainly with £20,000 to spend, there’s a huge range of Defender options. For our garage, we opted for a ‘model’s own’ option, persuading Matt Prior to wheel out his well-used 90 Td5 XS from 2005. He paid around £12,000 for it and reckons that it’s still worth about the same now. And that bargain price is also good news for our three-car garage in the event that we can’t secure a discount on our Golf GTI.

Prior’s car perfectly symbolises why the Defender makes such a fine wildcard: he has filled it with loads, used it to tow horseboxes, taken it down rough green lanes, used it as a daily driver and whiled away the hours tinkering on it with his toolkit. Essentially, if you can imagine a motoring task that you couldn’t or wouldn’t do in an A110 or Golf, you could certainly do it in a Defender.

And that, essentially, is the whole point of the three-car garage. Now is usually the time when we would contemplate which of the trio of cars we would choose if we could only keep one. But on this occasion, you can’t, really. They form the ultimate three-car garage because of their complementary strengths. And across three cars, possibly with spare change from £100k, all your motoring wants and needs are covered. All you have to do now is find room for them all…

Just for fun

The A110 dominated here despite some very credible opposition: the Ariel Atom, Ariel Nomad, Porsche Cayman, Porsche Boxster, Lotus Elise, Tesla Model 3 and Toyota GR Yaris were all popular picks.

Still, fun clearly comes in many forms. The Volkswagen California received several votes, with one voter noting that “the enjoyment goes well beyond driving”, and there was a vote for the Hyundai Ioniq 5, despite our voting closing before anyone had driven it. Still, that wasn’t as unexpected as the vote received for the Ssangyong Rexton – probably the only time it will ever be compared to an Alpine.


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