Initials: RA (Richard Aucock), TP (Tim Pitt), AB (Andrew Brady), PB (Peter Burgess), GBS (Gavin Braithwaite-Smith).
“The Aston Martin DB11 is a hugely accomplished car. It needed to be a two-generation step on: it is. The DB11 isn’t a radical diversion for Aston Martin, because one wasn’t needed. We simply needed a newer, better GT car. With the DB11, we’ve got that. Aston hasn’t missed with this one.” RA
“If you’ve got a spare £130,000 to splash on a two-seat soft-top, we’d be heading straight to our nearest Audi dealer. Sure, the Porsche badge might have a little more cachet, but the incredible capability of the R8 Spyder, combined with its usability, means we’d be very happy to give one a home.” AB
“We shuddered at the thought of a Bentley SUV a few years ago, and the 2012 concept looked set to confirm our worst fears. But the Bentayga has confounded all our fears. A cosseting, rapid and satisfying to drive luxury SUV, it’s a true Bentley – the best car the firm makes. Without doubt, one of the best premium SUVs you can buy, full stop.” RA
“Buy a top-of-the-range MX-5, take it to BBR and give them a blank cheque, and you’d still struggle to spend more than £30,000. For that money there is nothing else you can buy new, this side of a Caterham, that would be as fun to drive. And, unlike a Caterham, a BBR-tuned MX-5 is still useable every day and for long journeys. We had more fun on rural Northamptonshire B-roads in this than we’ve had in sports cars costing twice as much.” AB
“Spend your own money on one? The £33,935 start price (before Government grant) is a lot of money. But as a company car, it makes so much sense. There’s a reason why fleet users crave a 320d to cover the miles, and this is nicer to drive and will get fewer scowls as diesel resentment builds. We’re surprised BMW is only expecting to sell just over 1,000 in the UK in the first year.” AB
“After several disappointments, the latest M3 and M4 among them, M GmbH has come up trumps. The new M2 is fantastic – a car dominated by its superb chassis, such as we haven’t seen since the 2000 (E46) M3. Finally, a BMW that feels worth of the old ‘ultimate driving machine’ tagline.” TP
“You’ll absolutely love the ST200. It’s the ultimate Fiesta ST, which itself is the ultimate affordable hot hatch (and arguably more fun than bigger hot hatches such as the Volkswagen Golf GTI). It looks great in Storm Grey, and you’ll be given a great deal of kudos turning up at fast Ford meets in one. You could almost look at it as an investment.” AB
“For our money, though, nothing this side of BMW M135i matches the dynamic panache of the RS. And the BMW is £2,500 more expensive and markedly less practical. The Focus has grown-up… a little. But it’s still one of the quickest, most visceral and most downright exciting cars on the right side of £50,000. And your mother still won’t like it. Amen to that.” TP
“The new Honda NSX is a very ‘Honda’ type of supercar and thus an authentic successor to the mighty original. It’s as much of a technological step on as the 1989 car, but this hybrid/electric/computers-laden tech is used to add to the driving dynamics, not take anything away from the driving experience. Certainly, it does things most other more ‘analogue’ sports cars can’t do and is a unique slam-dunk because of this. If the purity of a McLaren 570S or familiarity of a 911 isn’t for you, the space-age NSX may well be.” RA
“By Motoring Research star rating logic, it’s a five-star car: it’s the best car in its sector, the most appealing all round, and certainly the best looking. Jaguar’s biggest challenge now may be making enough of them, but what a nice problem to have.” RA
“We can’t imagine ever getting bored of the Huracan. It’s a car that constantly stimulates the synapses. As personal transport turned up to 11, there’s little to touch it. And for many, that’s what supercars are all about.” TP
“At such a huge chunk of money for a car without a radio as standard, only the most serious of enthusiasts will be able to justify a Lotus Evora 410. If you’re after a daily driver, or a car for cross-continent road trips, the lesser Evora 400 or a rival (ahem, Porsche) will be a wiser bet.
“However, if you’ve got the cash to spend on an extremely competent track car and B-road blaster, the Evora 410 is one of the most satisfying cars serious drivers can buy. And you’ll still be able to use it for the odd weekend away. We’d approve.” AB
“This Lotus is a hand-built, richly-honed bargain. It delivers an exotic-level driving experience for relatively attainable prices. A car as satisfying to drive as a six-figure supercar, for a decidedly five-figure ticket. It’s a genuine thoroughbred. Lotus has had a great year in 2016. With the Exige Sport 380, it’s saved the best until last.” RA
“The McLaren 570GT is the best definition of McLaren’s Sport Series models. It’s very McLaren, so is all fantastic design, exotic engineering, ultra-precision drive and mind-warping speed. But this is McLaren blended more to the (relative) everyday: you could use it to commute in if you wanted to, and the refined extra comfort that makes it such a good GT car will also make it good for the M25 grind and inner-city jams McLaren’s entrepreneurial customers may choose to use it in.” RA
“If you fancy a 675LT Spider in your garage, expect to pay upwards of £400,000. No wonder we felt a mild sense of relief when handing back the keys, followed by an overwhelming urge to drive it again. The car’s immediate appreciation in value shows the esteem in which it is held – and represents a tidy profit for first owners, of course. Still, even £400k looks decent value compared to the £10million you’ll need for a McLaren F1.” TP
“The new 718 Boxster is, without question, superior to the model it replaces. It’s faster, better balanced and more economical. Cutting to the chase, we think it’s still the finest roadster on sale – and a five-star car.
“The Boxster has always been defined by its chassis, rather than its engine. However, something has certainly been lost by lopping off two cylinders. The Subaru soundtrack is a bit of a sore point, but we’d get used to it. However, the visceral top-end rush of those naturally-aspirated sixes will be missed. That’s the price of progress.” TP
“This is the fastest and most capable Golf GTI ever, but it’s still a Golf GTI. And it’s this approachability, combined with its speed and engagement, that makes it such an impressive achievement. It’s quite the 40th birthday celebration for the original hot hatch, that’s for sure.” RA
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