Hear the one about the 400bhp front-drive Golf? We laughed too until we saw the pictures
30 December 2006

OctoberSeptember ended, and October started, with the Paris motor show. It was packed with all sorts of sleek machines, but the one that really caught our eye was the Audi R8. This mid-engined sports car borrows plenty of Lamborghini know-how (and will eventually use the Gallardo's V10 engine), and is aimed squarely at the Porsche 911.The new Mini was also launched at Paris, though you’d have struggled to notice – from the outside it’s almost identical to the old one. On the road, however, it's a different matter – it’s a lot more sophisticated in every way.There was also a version of the new Ford Mondeo at the show. It was dubbed a concept, but Ford pretty quickly produced the first official pictures of the almost-identical real deal.Similarly down-to-earth was the new Corsa, which we road-tested. It proved that small and cheap doesn't have to mean cramped and miserly. We liked it so much that we sent Colin Goodwin off to Croatia in one to test it. Unfortunately he came back.There was no coming back for the workers at TVR's Blackpool plant, however, when owner Nikolai Smolenski announced his intention to move production abroad.

NovemberHear the one about the 400bhp front-wheel drive VW Golf? We laughed too until we saw the first pictures from the SEMA tuning show in Los Angeles. As you'll see, it looks pretty nutty. As do all Volvo's pumped-up C30s from SEMA, especially the 500bhp (yes, 500bhp) yellow Evolve.The C30 (albeit not a 500bhp version) was also in the running for the Car of the Year Award, but it was deservedly won by the Ford S-Max. As Ford of Britain boss Roelant de Waard said: "This is the first MPV where you can imagine the owner has a sex life." De Waard collected the S-Max's gong at the Autocar Awards, which this year were held at Mercedes-Benz World in Brooklands. While that 400bhp Golf was a concept, the rather stealthy-looking Passat R36 is for real, and goes on sale in 2007. We liked its subtle looks, and the promise of sub-six-second 0-60mph times from the 3.6-litre V6.Also in November we discovered that the next Jaguar S-type will be called the XF – and that it will be a radical departure from the retro-styled current car. Come 2010, it could well have an electric rival from American firm Tesla.

DecemberThe final month of the year started with the depressing news that UK roads may soon be 'pay-as-you-drive'. A report commissioned by the government suggested that we should pay more to reduce congestion. After all, it's not like we already pay tax in the form of road duty and fuel duty…That's all the more reason to enjoy driving while you still can, so if you've got an Aston Martin V8 Vantage, why not go for Prodrive's subtle performance tweaks? We would. Of course, you could always opt for a more modest machine, and we especially like the look of the forthcoming new Fiat 500, pictures of which were leaked onto the internet. And if you want something built closer to home, how about a Welsh-built AC – formally known as a Smart Roadster.On the road, we finished the year on a high with drives of the better-than-ever Boxster, the brutish Bentley Continental GTC and the mega new Renaultsport Megane R26.Oh yes, and one other little happened in December – we launched our thoroughly revamped website, and our new community site, MyAutocar. We hope you like them. Have a great 2007.

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