Awards, more top drawer performance cars, and a wet lap of the Nordscheife
1 January 2008

November was when Autocar recognised the motor industry’s great and good, at our annual awards bash held, this year, at London’s Royal Horticultural Hall. Among the winners were Bob Lutz, Lewis Hamilton, the VW Up! concept, Ford of Europe, Richard Parry-Jones and Skoda’s TV ad for the Fabia supermini. We tested two stand-out performance cars during the month; the BMW 123d, where a stunning diesel engine and an entertaining chassis combined for a four-star road test rating, and the Lotus Exige S PP – “the finest British sports car you can buy,” as first drive juror Jamie Corstorphine described it.Our 21 November triple test say the 123d’s petrol-powered bigger brother, the BMW 135i, narrowly lose out to the Porsche Cayman, in one of the hardest-fought contests Porsche’s mid-engined coupe has ever had to endure on our pages. Despite being more practical, more powerful, faster and cheaper than the Porsche, the 135i was missing that final level of driver involvement necessary to defeat its German rival.Elsewhere, Autocar associate editor Hilton Holloway became one of the very first people outside of Skoda’s employ to drive the all-new Superb, and Richard Bremner filed a full report from the Los Angeles motor show.In the news, Chrysler announced more job cuts for its US work force, Fernando Alonso announced his intention to leave McLaren, Alfa Romeo asked you to help name its forthcoming Mini-rival, we brought you exclusive spy photos of the Lotus Eagle, and Ford announced that it would retain ownership of Swedish car-maker Volvo.Our videos section was equally busy. Chris Harris collected his new BMW M3, and then drove it straight to the Nurburgring for a flat out, soaking wet, nine-minute lap of the Nordschleife (see below). He also drove the likable Morgan Aero America, and we brought you a detailed look at the Opel Flextreme concept – a car that previews the next Vauxhall Zafira, as well as a host of real world electric vehicles from GM.

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