From start to finish it takes around five years to design, build and then get a car into showrooms. It’s a long process, much of it done under the veil of secrecy, that car companies invest billions into. Yet the success of a car can often come down to simply what it looks like – after all you’re not going to spend thousands on something that doesn’t look good. Here Ape runs through the current trend setters.

Jaguar F-Type

There’s a lot of British romanticism surrounding Jaguar – it’s the underdog, fighting to compete against bigger and more successful rivals such as Audi and BMW. However, one thing Jaguar has that others don’t is truly beautiful cars and the latest F-Type is the best of the lot. It’s bite-the-back-of-your-hand beautiful – from any angle. Yet it’s not all show and no go – the F-Type is an excellent all-round sports car with an excellent chassis, delicate steering and thunderous V8 engine.

jaguar.co.uk

Fiat 500e

Fiat sells a host of cars in the UK and Europe but the only one you’re likely to have ever heard of is the 500. The latest model is a radical reinvention of the 1950s icon, brought bang up to date with a modern exterior makeover and an electric powertrain. It’s pocket-sized proportions remain intact and the overall look remains faithful to the original with rounded headlights and ultra smooth surfacing. It’s a cheeky and cheerful little car.

fiat.co.uk

Alfa Romeo Giulia

You can’t create a list of the most stylish cars on sale and not include an Alfa Romeo. Cars from the firm’s recent past may have had supermodel looks, but they were woefully unreliable and didn’t drive very well. Happily, all has been rectified with the latest Giulia, which now drives as well as it looks. At the top of the range there’s a hot Quadrifoglio edition with a thumping 503bhp 2.9-litre V6, too.

alfaromeo.co.uk

Lexus LC500

Think of Lexus and the image of sensible, beige saloons won’t be far from your mind. However, every once in a while the company’s designers and engineers let their hair down and create something truly special – the LC500 coupe is it. It’s a car which sells in tiny numbers but deserves to do so much better, because not only does that origami-style bodywork give it a truly unique look, it’s also a brilliant long-legged coupe.

lexus.co.uk

Aston Martin DBS Superleggera

If it’s good enough for James Bond it’s good enough for us. The DBS Superleggera will be Bond’s new wheels in No Time To Die (whenever it finally arrives) and it’s not hard to see the appeal – bulging bodywork and muscular arches all trying to contain the thumping 715bhp 5.2-litre V12 engine under the bonnet. And if you really want to show off, you can also buy a drop top Volante version.

astonmartin.com