How we test cars at Carwow

Buying a new or used car can be a daunting prospect. We understand that, which is why here at Carwow we want to make the whole process easier. Whether that’s helping you get a great deal on the car you want, or helping you decide what to buy in the first place.
And that decision is where our reviews team comes in. Our car testers have decades of industry experience behind the wheel of the latest cars, meaning they’re perfectly placed to compare models and guide you to the right car for you.
Here’s a brief overview of how we test cars and report on the stuff you actually care about.

What we do

When you think of Carwow’s car reviews, your first thought is probably the YouTube channel. Mat Watson has been presenting on the channel since 2016, and while the drag races and off-roading are great fun, he also uses his vast testing experience to give in-depth reviews of a huge variety of cars, from hatchbacks to high-performance sports cars.

However, there aren’t enough hours in the day for Mat to test every car and every derivative on sale. That’s where our website team comes in. They, too, have decades of experience testing new cars and keep the site updated with detailed car reviews – we want it to be impossible for you to buy a new car without being able to find out what Carwow’s experts think of it.

Why you can trust Carwow’s reviews

As you may have seen on our YouTube channel, we poke and prod our way through a car to find out where car makers have excelled, and where they could do better.

We typically spend at least a week with each car, which gives us time to get to grips with how comfortable they are over different surfaces, what they’re like to drive in town and the motorway, and how they handle a twisty road. Efficiency of petrol, diesel and electric cars is also recorded during our time with a car.

But we go deeper than just seeing how it drives. We will test the infotainment system to see how user-friendly it is to live with, we’ll look for all of the interior storage to see if it’s up to scratch, and see what the material quality is like.

We also jump in the back seats to see how spacious they are, as well as fitting a child seat to check how easy the ISOFIX points are to access – and whether there’s enough room for the seat in the first place.

We compare the boot capacity with other cars you might consider, but also comment on how easy it is to load luggage. One of many many things we’ve learned is that bigger numbers don’t necessarily mean a car is more practical…

Our goal is to tell you everything you need to know about actually living with a car, using language everyone can understand.

Scroll through our gallery to see Mat poke and prod his way around a car and test everything so that we’re in the perfect position to tell you if a car is worth buying or not.

How we rate cars

On the website you will have noticed our ‘wowscore’. This is a quick and easy way to see what we think of a car, and can be a good starting point for you.

Each car has a score out of 10, which is also represented through a five-star rating. Each point is worth half a star, so, for example, if we rate a car seven out of 10, it will get 3.5 stars.

This score is based on our overall opinion of the car and takes various factors into account. For example, we might score a car highly if it’s more practical than alternatives or offers great value for money. Or perhaps a car is 10/10 to drive, but it's so much more expensive than similar models that we’ll drop it to a 9.

Essentially, we distil our opinions of the pros and cons into a single score that makes it easy to compare models before diving deeper into the details.

On the YouTube channel, Mat gives cars one of four verdicts: Avoid, Consider, Shortlist, or Buy. Avoid means you should give the car a miss, Consider means it’s worth taking a look at but there are better alternatives out there, and Shortlist means it’s one of the best in its class and should be near the top of your shopping list.

Buy? Well that means a car is so good that if you went ahead and bought it without even looking at anything else, we’re still confident you’d love it.

How does this relate to the wowscore? Generally speaking, anything that gets four or below should be avoided, if a car gets five or six it could be considered, seven or eight should be shortlisted, and nine or 10 means go right ahead and buy it.

How we keep up to date

Cars are regularly updated. Sometimes these are smaller things like new trim levels or minor engine/motor/battery tweaks, but sometimes they’re more comprehensive.

We will retest a car whenever there’s something different enough to be worthy of investigation. For example, an electric car getting a new battery that promises a much longer range is worth driving to see what its real-world figure might be, but also whether it’s worth paying extra for. We might also try a new engine if it’s promising a lot more horsepower or much better fuel economy.

If a car hasn’t been updated in a while we will also test it again to check our comments are still accurate against newer models. Sometimes infotainment systems might be good when a car is released, but over the years competitors will bring out better systems, for example.

How to find us on social media

As well as the Carwow website, our car reviews can be found anywhere and everywhere you are. We have the most watched automotive YouTube channel in the world and recently smashed through 8 million subscribers.

We also regularly upload content to Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and Facebook, where you can see everything from drag races to reviews and anything else we’ve filmed.

Meet the team of car reviewers

Mat Watson - YouTube Presenter/Chief Content Officer

Mat is the face of Carwow and when he’s not busy drag racing cars and analysing the latest models for our video reviews, he’s overseeing all the editorial output across our UK, Spanish and German websites as well as our social media.

Iain Reid - Head of Editorial

Iain started working on motorsport websites in 2000 before switching to mainstream automotive journalism in 2005, working on titles such as What Car?, Auto Express and Car Buyer before switching to Carwow in 2018.

Darren Cassey - Website Reviews Editor

For more than a decade, Darren has been writing about and reviewing cars. Having tested everything from Dacia Dusters to Lamborghini Aventadors, he now brings this expertise and passion for media to the Carwow website.

Tom Wiltshire - Deputy Website Reviews Editor

Tom's been writing about and testing cars since 2015, as well as collecting his own fleet of increasingly broken Peugeots. Having worked for local press, national car magazines and some of the UK's biggest online titles, he now helps keep Carwow's reviews up-to-date.

Jamie Edkins - Deputy News Editor

Jamie joined Carwow in 2021, fresh from getting a journalism degree. He breaks the latest news on the site but is a valuable support to the reviews team thanks to his ability to analyse cars and report his findings.