Lewis wins in Canada, VW gives up on Proton, Ferrari goes on a diet
27 December 2007

In June the papers were all full of Lewis Hamilton stories, and our eminent F1 reporter Alan Henry couldn’t resist a few himself after the prodigy from Stevenage scored his first grand prix win in Canada and followed it a week later by winning in Indianapolis, too. That was when his twice-champ team mate, Fernando Alonso, really started to chuck his toys out of the pram…June was a big month for road testing, too. Ford’s long-awaited Mondeo received the full treatment – and didn’t disappoint. “This is Ford at its very best” we said. Then, at the first comparison, our comment was even more effusive: “It wasn’t until we introduced the Mondeo to the BMW 3-series that the Ford’s true quality became apparent.”We’ve been driving Mondeos ever since, and they have maintained the halo. Late in the year features ed Mike Duff named a Mondeo 2.0 TDCi as his entry in our favourite cars of the year, a list that included the Porsche 911 GT3 RS, Audi R8, Lotus 2-Eleven and Rolls Phantom convertible.Mercedes impressive C-class also arrived. The C220 CDi Sport with six-speed manual we tested made us hanker for an auto with a slightly more relaxed suspension, but we were still impressed with the car’s overall quality, reminiscent of older Mercedes days.We spent a few riotous days with the Vauxhall VXR8, the giant 6.0-litre Aussie-built V8 saloon which takes you as close as you can go to experiencing a Chevy Corvette saloon.We liked Renault’s baby Twingo for its cheekiness and easy-driving performance, but wondered why it had to look quite so dowdy. The Chevy Captiva SUV proved a perfectly decent, but slightly disappointing offering. We’d been expecting a bargain, but the verdict was: “Not the best, nor the worst way to spend £25k on a soft-roader”.VW called off its long-running plan to buy Proton, and the EU authorities (led by an evidently barmy LibDem MEP from Stockport) proposed a 101mph limit for all cars made in Europe. Nobody had an affordable, practical or justifiable plan for either measuring or limiting speeds, however. GM revealed a view of the future which was far more expansive: its magnificently-named future cars boffin Dr Christopher Borroni-Bird restated the company’s long-term aim “to remove the car from the environment and energy debate” by keeping its eye firmly fixed on hydrogen fuel cell cars as the preferred motive power for mainstream cars. Borroni-Bird foreshadowed the Chevy Volt, due in 2010, and predicted that the battery and hydrogen source problems would be beaten in the medium term.On a more practical energy-saving front, Ferrari revealed how even its hyper-fast cars would get greener. It revealed a concept for a 1000kg car called FXX Millechili which shaved an impressive 365kg off the weight of an Enzo while preserving its 650bhp power output. There would be a major rethink about how Ferraris were made, Maranello bosses promised. Meanwhile, BMW unveiled its new Efficient Dynamics theory, under which a co-ordinated approach to engine efficiency, aerodynamics and weight saving would make all future BMWs more efficient. Its bosses relished pointing out that 22 BMWs could already deliver 48 mpg and emit less than 140 gm/km CO2. In all, it made a rosier view of the future than we’d seen for some time.Our June video highlights were numerous; check out or video section to revisit Chris Harris’ Nurburgring 24hr epic, our spy shots of the next Honda NSX, and to see Steve Cropley driving a Napier Railton. One particular video stands out, however; it was Steve Sutcliffe’s ride with DTM star Gary Paffett around Brands Hatch: watch it below.

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