Our tame racing driver helps kicks off Evans's CarFest motor show...
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Top Gear magazine in 2004
Top Gear Magazine in 2004
Clarkson in 2004: “We used to be good at building bridges and tunnels and trains. Now you can’t even get from London to Manchester without being bankrupted and killed.”
TopGear Car(s) of the Year: VW Golf GTI
“My favourite thing about this new GTI is the same as my favourite thing about the original. To the untrained eye, it’s just a Golf, but to those who know, it just isn’t.
Subtle mating signals are sent out by that honeycomb grille and the little roof spoiler, and best of all, those sensational dials. The simple fact of the matter is that no matter how you cut it, the Golf is either brilliant or excellent in every single area.” JC
“Fancy an Almera? Or a Primera? Of course you don’t. let’s face it, the Nissan badge doesn’t awaken the beast in us. But do you fancy a 350Z? Of course you do. Sure, the interior plastics aren’t the last word in sophistication and the cabin could use more sound deadening. What the hell, we’ll live with it. In a year that’s had so much good stuff, it’s still a no-brainer - the Nissan 350Z deserves its place as our TopGear Car of The Year.” CR
Three cars from 2004
Porsche 911 997
“The 997 has all the uniqueness of a classic 911, and none of its vices. And, boy, am I trying to find them. Yet on a badly surfaced, undulating road, the handling is never less than electric. Perhaps its steering isn’t as impressive as a 911’s usually is - it’s too light at low speeds - but it gets better the harder you go. And while the 997 looses the bobbing nose, the pattering front wheels and the steering wheel jiggle, the traction out of corners remains, accompanied by a new composure. The best 911 yet? I’d say so. Probably the best sports car, full stop.” August 2004
“The M5 is a masterpiece. Of engineering, of integration, of power. But there’s still a nagging doubt in my mind that it has sacrificed its soul for such domination. There’s no charm, no warming glow. There’s no furtive grin when you realize that you have an engine that is slightly too powerful for your chassis, no element of delight when your suspension setup exceeds the output of your engine. The bar has simply been raised for all performance cars. It’s a geeky response to criticism, this complete elimination of imperfection. It’s the tick-the-box approach to making a car feel empirically better, rather than making it feel right. And that, ultimately, takes the joy out of what is currently the best performance saloon in the world.” November 2004
“It’s completely Ferrari. The Ferrari experience but deeper, wider, stronger. Not just more powerful, as in 490bhp versus the 360’s 400bhp, but a more powerful experience. And the World Champion plaque on the dash isn’t all that’s F1 about it. The engine was developed by people who’ve worked in F1; the aerodynamics too. You can feel all that, but you can’t see it. We do get one clear F1 signpost. Yellow circle, black horse - smack in the middle of the steering wheel. It can be all caring and sensitive if you want it to, but Ferrari isn’t Ferrari because it’s sensitive. History is written by winners. And the F430 is built to win.” November 2004
The best-selling car of 2004: Ford Focus
The best-selling song of 2004: Do They Know It’s Christmas? - Band Aid 20
And elsewhere in the world in 2004: Facebook is founded by Mark Zuckerberg; terrorists execute a simultaneous attack on Madrid’s public transit system, killing 191 and injuring 1,800; and a tsunami, the strongest in 40 years and one of the worst natural disasters in recorded history, hits South East Asia, killing over 180,000.