Steve Sutcliffe set a London land speed record, hitting over 170mph in a Mercedes SLR McLaren
29 December 2006

JulyForgive us if we got rather excited in July, but we hope you did too – it was the month of the British motor show, after all. And while we knew it wasn't going to rival Frankfurt's or Geneva's shows, we were really hoping that the new venue – Excel in London's Docklands – would provide a boost. Initial figures indicate that it was pretty popular, but the real test is whether or not the show returns to London in 2008. Fingers crossed.As it was, we thought the London show really rather good – it was compact, interesting, and there were three decent launches: the new Freelander, the new Corsa and the BMW M6 cabrio. Once again, we were testing a Porsche 911, when the new Turbo got the full road test treatment. We reckoned it's the ultimate everyday supercar. And if you’re budget won't stretch to a 911 Turbo (ours won’t), there was still good news, in the shape of the new Renaultsport Clio 197, which really is a return to the affordable, great to drive small hatchback. It's not just the revvy 2.0-litre engine that's so good about the Clio, either – it's the brilliance with which the suspension copes with your typically rough British B-road.Far removed from a rough B-road, but every bit as thrilling was the tarmac of London's City Airport, where we attempted – and set – a new London Land Speed Record, with Steve Sutcliffe hitting 172.6mph in a Mercedes SLR McLaren.

AugustWe're rightly proud of our speed record, but in August we were beaten. By a JCB. In fairness, they did have a wee bit more space, in the shape of the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, USA, where the JCB DieselMax managed to set a new diesel Land Speed Record of 350mph. Dig that.We tried some earth-moving equipment ourselves when we got behind the wheels of three new SUVs: the Audi Q7, Mercedes GL, Subaru B9 Tribeca and (smaller but no less important) the Vauxhall Antara. Despite the anti-SUV backlash, manufacturers are still churning them out, and it seems we're still lapping them up.We're also still lapping up stylish coupes, so the first glimpse of VW's new Scirocco, the Iroc, was pretty exciting. Let's hope the production car is every bit as good.Also in August came news that MGs will be made in the US. The American boss of a subsidiary of Nanjing Automotive said that production of the TF roadster would start at a plant in Oklahoma in 2008. We'll see.That wasn't the only British sports car news, either – Ford announced that it wanted to sell Aston Martin. A buyer is still to be found.

SeptemberWe used to get excited about new registration plates in September, but these days we get excited about Autocar's annual best-handling car competition. This year we went to the demanding Oulton Park circuit, where everything from an MX-5 to an M6 did battle. The Porsche Cayman S came out top, but only just, the superb Lotus Exige S just coming second.From the racetrack, there was the sad news of the death of Aussie racing legend Peter Brock, who died while competing in a rally near Perth. Michael Schumacher also announced his plan to retire at the end of the season.If Schumi's got any spare cash (and he has), he might like to buy himself a nice little retirement present in the shape of the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione. It's one of the best-looking cars we've seen in a while, and borrows lots of bits from Michael's old employer, Ferrari.

Come back tomorrow for part four

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