Each year, a handful of models capture the imagination and stake their claim as a short-term fad or an all-time iconic vehicle.
This year is no different, with stylish saloons, hatchbacks and 4x4s all making their presence felt in the market.
Here’s the cream of the crop from 2014 – but which will stand the test of time to be celebrated in the years to come?
1. Fiat 500
The Fiat 500 is sold under the slogan that “Life’s too short to wear a boring car”, and the notion of ‘wearing’ your car transforms it from a vehicle to a true fashion accessory.
In the case of the Fiat 500, this is more than just a gimmick – there are 14 body colours to choose from, four engine types, and half a million different personalisation combinations.
With a Euro Ncap five-star rating and seven airbags, it’s not a case of style over function; this is also a car that protects its occupants against any injury, making it a good all-rounder.
2. Range Rover Evoque
The Range Rover Evoque is designed for “urban stand out”, according to the manufacturer, with a distinctive body shape and front grille.
It’s a brooding snarl of a vehicle, with a face that looks more than a little peeved at being trapped on the commuter run instead of hitting the open road.
But with urban fuel economy of about 47mpg and extra-urban performance of 62.8mpg, again it’s a car whose specifications truly deliver.
3. Mini Cooper
Already an icon, the 2014 Mini Cooper has been given plenty of visual features of its own, helping it to stand out against a legacy of eye-catching predecessors.
Large air inlets on the front grille, an extra bonnet air scoop and redesigned headlights available as full-LED options all place this model firmly in the present day.
But is it style over substance? Side scuttles with “suggested air outlets” – not real ones? – and chrome surrounds for the headlights and brake lights make the 2014 Mini Cooper more of a shout than a whisper.
4. Mercedes C63
The Mercedes C63 is billed as “a C-class like never before”, and it certainly strikes a distinctive visual.
An elegant saloon with muscular, racing-like characteristics, this is a body-builder in a dinner suit, and that is likely to find favour with strong-minded businesspeople everywhere.
But with a 6.3 litre AMG V8 engine under the bonnet, fuel economy is 10% better than previous models and acceleration to 62mph takes just 4.5 seconds from a standing start.