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TG mag’s Big Adventures of 2012

  1. We know, we’re thinking exactly the same thing: how on earth did it suddenly get to December 2012? It felt like barely a few moments ago that we were shredding the tyres off the new Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ and getting all excited that the dawn of a new performance car had arrived. That was January, and suddenly we’re at the tail end of the year wearing our Christmas jumpers and novelty Stig party hats. Phew.

    In fact, so much has happened since then, those cars now feel like they’ve been on earth for ten years. We’ve been in the new Ferrari F12, the Pagani Huayra and the McLaren 12C Spider; we’ve been on some ice, sold our souls to the devil for a Porsche (a Porsche), welcomed the new Jaguar F-Type and even drove a Le Mans racer that looks like a some kind of adult toy.

    Our heads are still spinning from all this drifty, tyre-shredding hoonery, but it is of course, all for a good cause: to bring you, the good folk of the Earth, the very best from the world of motoring.

    So here, in a handy end-of-the-year-roundup format, are our very favourite TG mag adventures from 2012. We hope you enjoyed them as much as we did. Happy New Year! 

  2. Top Gear drives the Singer 911

    “By the third corner, my soul is wrapped in rough brown paper and packaged for sale, addressed FAO Lucifer. Faust himself would be slack-jawed with horror at the glib speed of the transaction. But then again, he’s probably never driven a Porsche 911 like this. If he had, he’d understand the immediate need to eBay personal eternity. In the first 20 minutes of driving, I’ve gone from mildly charmed to completely besotted with this daft little silver Porsche, a fist of feeling curled tightly around my heart…”

    Read the full feature here

  3. The Nissan Juke-R vs supercars

    “My backside is in roughly the spot that you’d usually find a rear passenger’s shoes. Which means that from where I’m sitting - head buried behind B-pillar - I can’t see the Ferrari, Lamborghini and Merc idling rowdily beside me. Can’t see anything much at all, in fact. Except skyscrapers. Hope the other drivers realise my visual predicament. And don’t fully realise what they’re up against. Angry bursts of revs signal their readiness. I hold three fingers out of the window of Nissan’s diddiest SUV. I fold one in, then another…”

    Read the full feature here

  4. Top Gear on ice: Ferrari FF vs Bentley Continental GT

    “Earlier, at a fuel outpost, I’d been advised to screw the towing eyes into the cars, just in case. I’d also been warned about elk. Apparently the nice, firm snow banks either side of the road are perfect moose-y mattresses. Other than the landscape itself, they’re one of the few hazards out here. I’d be hard pushed to crash into anything else as solid as an elk - the trees rarely stray close enough to the road, kept at bay by the mounded snow…”

    Read the full feature here

  5. The Fiat Panda takes on the Volkswagen Up

    James May: Apologies to Monty Python, but you’ve come here for an argument.

    “The gist of it is this: I like the new Fiat Panda; Paul Horrell prefers the Volkswagen Up. Now, I’ve known Horrell for some 20 years, and he’s an intelligent bloke, so this ought to make for a dazzling and rapier-like exchange of wit and cheap put-downs.

    “Trouble is, it took place in a fetid, small conference room next to the Top Gear magazine office, and not in a pub, where beer charges the barrels of opinion’s artillery just as effectively as it demolishes logic. What follows is actually very balanced and reasonable.

    “He’s still wrong, though…”

    Read the full story here

  6. Shotgun in the Bugatti Veyron Vitesse

    “Depending on the car and road, anything above 150mph is generally where things turn a bit Twilight Zone.

    “Above 150, you get personally introduced to the concept of airflow, aerodynamics and, most of all, downforce. You can feel the front wheels squirm a bit, things might suddenly go a bit light and, if the boffins haven’t done their sums correctly, your bottom will be the first part of your anatomy to alert you to the fact. For this reason, you’d be right to feel a little apprehensive.

    “None of these things happen in the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse…”

    Read the full feature here

  7. Driving the dictator

    “And now, after some bunny-chat and glitzy photos, our Dartz time seems done: tomorrow, the movie’s official promoters are planning some ‘stunts’ around London with Sacha and the Prombron, but they have informed us in no uncertain terms that Top Gear is banned from this. No journalists, no photos: the car will be driven by a Russian guard. We bribed, we begged, we offered Playboy bunnies; the movie bigwigs didn’t budge. Almost like we’ve got a reputation for messing these things up. At 2am, we bid farewell to Leo, and wished him luck for tomorrow.

    “At 6.30am the next morning, my phone rings. “Get your f***ing arse to hotel!” It is Leo, hissing in the clenched-teeth fashion only ever seen in movies. “Quick, now!”

    Read the full feature here

  8. Divine madness: Top Gear drives the Pagani Huayra

    “Physics is pinned down and under siege, each gearchange another grenade rolled into the foxhole where Newton is ripping up equations and banging his head repeatedly on a table. Einstein, whiter-haired than usual, is cowering in a corner, blank-eyed and weeping. One mile of bumpy Italian back road at full throttle in the new Pagani Huayra, and you’ll start to question the fundamentals. I’ve been driving it for more than an hour, and have just forced myself to shut my arid mouth with an audible click. This thing - to put it wholly inadequately - is deranged...”

    Read the full feature here

  9. Top Gear's Speed Week: the Scotland showdown

    Ollie Marriage: We’re in Fort William with a distinguished shortlist: McLaren MP4-12C, Porsche 911 Carrera S, BMW M5, Lotus Exige S, Radical SR3 SL, Toyota GT86 and Ford Focus ST. Not the definitive winners of our Dunsfold face-offs, but the cars we thought could best handle the 500-mile slog north, and then do the business on Scotland’s roads as well.

    Sam Philip: So it’s down to me - a driver ably representing the ‘enthusiastic but limited’ quotient - and Oliver Marriage, Top Gear’s Officer of Oversteer and possessor of the most aerodynamic head in Europe, to distil the findings of Team Scotland into something logical and semi-literate over a couple of pints of something brown and liquid that claims to be beer but smells strongly of meat…”

    Read the full feature here

  10. Top Gear drives the fastest Ferrari ever: the F12 Berlinetta

    “The world tilts. The warm dawn sun, so peachy and recently risen, sinks back below the parapet; the trees slant, the horizon angles and nothing is the same any more. This twisted perspective isn’t a commentary on the impact the new Ferrari F12 Berlinetta has had on the planet itself, so much as the fact I’ve just driven one, gently, carefully onto the historic banked circuit at Monza…”

    Read the full feature here

  11. Driven: the awesome Icon Bronco

    “So, at the next set of lights, I shift into first and give the Bronco some real throttle. At this point, any faint illusion of normality is shattered. Because the Bronco, this middle-aged - if not grandaddy SUV - squats the rear, lifts its lantern jaw to the sky, and bucks right off, making a noise like an enraged elephant seal attached to a car battery. For a moment, all I can see in the triple-framed rear-view mirror are rows of slack jaws. Before they can quick-draw their camphones, we’ve already gone. Off to the dunes, and salvation…”

    Read the full feature here

  12. Top Gear drives the new Dodge Viper

    “Do not be afraid. It might look much the same as the old car, but the 2013 SRT Viper is a much better, less terrifying driving and ownership experience in every way. There isn’t one big reason for this, although the new Viper is fitted with electronic stability control for the first time. It’s all to do with a list of detail upgrades and refinements that’s longer than a whole school’s Christmas wish list. Seeing it, sitting in it and now driving it, the quickest way to describe it is that the car now looks, feels and drives like Porsche or maybe even Ferrari has built it. There’s that same air of handmade quality, craftsmanship and attention to detail…”

    Read the full feature here

  13. Stig vs the McLaren 12C Spider

    “The gloved finger hesitates. This is unusual. The initial contact between Stig and car most often involves a rapid sequence of instinctive jabs, at the end of which the car is stiffened, traction-less and maximally sportified. But a binary debate is occurring over what to do with one particular button. To lower or not to lower.

    “Stig’s programming does not permit him to consider the pleasant weather in this corner of southern Spain as a reason to put the roof down. Even the thought of a new level of aural exposure fails to stir Stig from his focus on outright speed. Naively, I believe the two quick kinks on Ascari’s back straight, plus the long, loopy speed curve past the pits will cause his-whiteness to leave the roof up for improved high-speed aero efficiency…”

    Read the full feature here

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