The winner of the UK’s prestigious WhatCar? Car of the Year award has been unveiled with the Lexus LBX 1.5 Premium Plus scooping the top award. 

Considered the ‘motoring Oscars’ in the UK, the Japanese manufacturer soared to the top after WhatCar? chiefs praised the manufacturer for finding a genuine gap in the market. 

Small SUV machines may be booming in popularity but high-quality prestige models in this category are few and far between. 

Lexus has created a model that oozes “quality, refinement and hybrid technology at a price more motorists can afford”.

Affordability is the biggest selling point with the LBX available for around £30,000 brand new. 

The Premium model is just £34.995 making it a steal compared to some of its rivals which have price tags pushing north of £40,000. 

For that road users would get a luxury car also capable of up to 105mph and a fuel economy of 61.4mpg.

WhatCar? Editor Steve Huntigford praised the Lexus after it scooped the top award at a glitzy awards ceremony in London last night.

He explained: “The title of What Car? Car of the Year is reserved for the model that has moved things on the farthest in the past 12 months, and this year, that’s the Lexus LBX.

“Despite competing in the hugely competitive small SUV market, it’s a better all-rounder than every rival, not least because it’s the first car in the class to combine hybrid efficiency with big-car luxury. 

“And at a time when new car prices are going through the roof, it offers these strengths for an attractive price.”

Although missing out on the tip price, it was an excellent night for South Korean marque Kia who picked up four awards. 

The Sportage won the ‘Best Family SUV’ prize for the second consecutive year after judges highlighted its comfortable ride. Accurate steering and user-friendly interior.

Meanwhile, the Kia EV6 won the ‘Best Family Electric SUV’ with the Kia EV9 taking top honours in the ‘Best Electric 7-Seater’ category. 

Kia also secured the ‘Tow Car Award’ in recognition of its wide choice of towing-capable cars.

Paul Philpott, President & CEO of Kia UK, commented: “What Car? is one of the most trusted and reliable names for UK motorists, and recognition in the annual ‘Car of the Year’ awards is a powerful endorsement. 

“We are therefore immensely proud to see three of our cars recognised as best-in-class in 2024, and our wider model line-up for their towing capabilities.”

The Mazda MX-30 e Skyactiv R-EV was named the P’lug-in Hybrid of the Year’ while the CUPRA Born secured the ‘Best Small Electric Car to Drive’. 

SEAT also secured a trophy with the Leon topping the ‘Best Family Car for Value’ certificate. 

But, the new MG MG4 won two awards with the ‘Small Electric Car of the Year’ and ‘Best Electric Hot Hatch’ categories going their way.