The thing I love most about cars is the feel from behind the wheel. Sure, the sensation of speed is incredibly exciting but it’s not something you can really explore on the road. Good looks aren’t too important either; like any good estate agent will say, when you’re inside your purchase, you can’t see what it looks like on the outside.
With that in mind, I had fully expected to be singing the praises of something small, light and affordable. In theory, a cheap, rear-wheel-drive sports car possesses everything I look for: just enough performance to be interesting with limits that you don’t have to be going crazily fast in order to reach them.
So, Mazda MX-5, then? Nope. Not even close. My highlight of the year was the McLaren 570S, a car whose surface you can barely scratch on the public road. But had I sold out and been wooed by 0-62mph times and the novelty of driving something worth more than some of the properties I’ve lived in?
Believe it or not, it was all about feeling. Even gingerly driving along at 30mph, the 570S felt involving. You can feel the steering wheel moving in your hands, telling you exactly what the front wheels are doing. It was also incredibly comfortable, considering the semi-supercar looks.
Suddenly, a car that looked unbelievably intimidating became anything but. Even on a soaking wet day, I started to feel comfortable exploring what the car could do because it was telling me exactly what was going on beneath me.
And as for the lack of a manual gearbox and naturally aspirated engine, I didn’t miss either. The dual-clutch auto just meant you could focus more on cornering, while the ferocity of the V8 over the final 2000rpm was something to savour. It’s going to take a pretty special vehicle to get the 570S out of my mind.