Here are my top 10 car related events of 2012. What are yours?
Driver of the year; Fernando Alonso
Rarely has someone got so much out of a car that was capable of so little, especially at the beginning of the season. He might be a touch impressed by himself on occasions, but Alonso is also one heck of a racing driver. One of the best there’s ever been in my view.
Car of the year; Mercedes Benz C63 AMG Black Series
For me the C63 Black has got it all as a road car. It reminds me of a latter day Lotus Carlton in many ways, in that it looks almost impossibly evil yet has the firepower – and the fundamental capability – to more than back it up. If ever there was a future classic to identify, this is it.
Quote of the year; Dr Ulrich Bez
Unfortunately I can’t actually repeat what he said about the Volkswagen Automotive Group because I’d get sued if I did, but I’m glad that everything seems to be working out for Dr Bez and his beloved Aston Martin. With some healthier funds in place, Aston still has the potential to produce some fireworks. Watch this space in 2013, it’s the 100th anniversary after all...
Ride of the year; Pagani Huayra
I’m a shaky passenger at the best of times, but when the car in question has 720bhp and is rear wheel drive, and the driver in question has just thumbed the traction control button to off, the omens aren’t good. Fortunately Pagani’s chief nutcase, Davide Testi, quite clearly knows what he’s doing behind the wheel – but that still didn’t prevent my heart from riding all the way up my throat and nestling in my mouth for the first 10 minutes in the passenger seat of the Huayra. Note to self; next time, just say no.
Potential rule bender of the year; the Tesla Model S
Zero to 60mph in under five seconds, five seats, zero mpg and not a lot in the way of carbon emissions – all sounds like a winning combination if you ask me. It’s a pity Tesla has completely ignored our repeated requests to borrow the car for a bit longer so that we can compare it with something conventionally tasty like a BMW M5, but maybe they – Tesla – will be a bit more receptive towards us next year. If so, we’ll find out how good the Model S is once and for all.
Boo-hoo moment of the year; the death of the Subaru Impreza
Talk about the end of an era...
Actually let’s not, let’s move on instead and place the rose tinted spectacles back in the drawer where they belong. Truth is, the Impreza has been uncompetitive for years. It was about time Subaru put this once-great car out of its misery.
Surprisingly excellent car from yesteryear; the Ferrari F355
Drove one of these for a day this year and realized just how underrated the F355 has become. It felt quick, strong, usable but still ultra desirable. Just as it always has been in my personal opinion. Seems the trade thinks so too nowadays; prices of F355s are just starting to overtake those of the younger, theoretically superior 360 Modena. Conclusion; a genuinely beautiful Ferrari (i.e. a 355 but not necessarily a 360M) will invariably be worth more in the long run.
Giant slayer of the year; Audi A1 quattro
It beat the Nissan GTR around the MIRA wet handling circuit by over four seconds. No kind of tyre trickery was involved, no stunts were pulled with their TC systems (both turned out to be quicker with these switched off). The Audi just beat the Nissan fair and square, which is proof that massive horsepower and fat tyres aren’t always the ultimate ingredients.
Most encouraging moment of the year; driving the GT86
...and realising that all is not yet lost to the world of electronics.
Injustice of the year; Michael Schumacher being booted out of the Mercedes GP team
Then again, he’s dished out a fair bit of treatment of his own over the years, and seven world titles isn’t a bad way to reflect upon a career.
Happy Christmas folks, and I look forward to reading your own top motoring moments of 2012, however bizarre they may be.