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TopGear.com’s most-read reviews of 2012

  1. It’s official: we’re exhausted. Tired. Depleted. Our energy reserves have been pillaged and consequently, we’ve been looking for salvation at the bottom of a biscuit tin and cheese board. The cream crackers never stood a chance.

    Why so tired? Because this, more so than perhaps any other year, has proved to be quite a fine one for new metal. We’ve felt the fury of a more than a thousand splendid horsepowers and sampled some of the most intoxicating, exciting and downright thrilling machines 2012 has thrown at us. And it’s thrown a lot.

    But rather than hide behind the sofa, we’ve stood in the face of this onslaught, armed only with a leaden right foot and fists of ham, to bring you the definitive verdicts on these fighty new machines. And you lot - that’s you lot on this Internet - have responded in your droves.

    So here, as a little Christmas gift, is a Very Big List of your favourite reviews of 2012, counting down from 20 to 1. There are many exciting machines included within. There are some diesels. And we’ve also slotted in a pair of wildcards; not strictly road-tests, but ridealongs in machines so audacious and mad we’d be foolish not to include them in here. You’re a funny bunch, The Internet.

    Somebody pass the digestives please…

  2. 20. Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse

    “Because you’re not going to be un-nerved or distracted by the handling or grip, you can make merry with that engine. And oh, good grief, what an invading force that is. When the turbos spin up, the world starts flying backwards in speeded-up animation. It is, to all intents and purposes, limitless, chewing through the instant shifts of the seven-speed DSG. And on and on. Even at speeds that leave other supercars gasping to gather their last few mph, the Veyron is merely hitting its stride…”

    Read the full review here

  3. 19. Dodge Viper SRT

    “As soon as you slip into the new cabin, every touch point feels crisp, tight, controlled. And it stays that way as you get moving. The clutch is lighter, the gearshift more precise, requiring more wrist than shoulder, and the hydraulic steering is amazingly direct. Don’t think it’s lost all the trademark Viper hairiness. When you hit the gas hard it still erupts into a frenzy of noise and forward motion that you really can’t find anywhere else other than a Viper cockpit…”

    Read the full review here

  4. 18. BMW Gran Coupe

    “Like a shark, the Gran Coupe looks like it’s made to swim fast and far. And that’s how it feels too. It’ll snake its way down a back-road with effortless authority, and then swallow immense motorway stretches without the slightest burp…”

    Read the full review here

  5. 17. Astra VXR

    “Of course, it can still do the loony stuff. Switch it to VXR mode, and the dials glow red, the suspension is stiffened, the steering gets heavier, and the throttle response is sharper. Don’t tell May, but we had a go around the Nurburgring in it, and it was epic there - fast enough to worry a well-driven Audi R8…”

    Read the full review here

  6. 16. BMW M6 cab

    “To be honest, this is a car that Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg would struggle to get their heads round, given the sheer computer firepower it packs. Gearbox, (hydraulic) steering, suspension, throttle response, and traction control: there are almost 500 different combinations for the driver to choose from. Theoretically, this much choice can only be a good thing, right? Especially when your optimum set-up can then be stored in not one but two M buttons on the steering wheel?”

    Read the full review here

  7. 15. Pagani Huayra

    “It’s also fast enough to make you squeak, though it does get a little light at silly speeds, and when it decides to oversteer - which it does eventually - the boost makes it much harder to guage accurately than the Zonda. Not that I ever managed to guage that very accurately either, it has to be said. The flaps operate above 50mph, and act as airbrakes and stabilisers, though on the roads I was on it was hard to figure out if they were doing anything too specific…”

    Read the full review here

  8. 14. Audi A3

    “It feels the very opposite of heavy when you drive. It moves with a nimbleness the old A3 never had. You can punch the front end into a corner and it hardly understeers. In, through and out of a bend, the handling is light-footed and playful in a way that no mainstream Audi has never managed. There’s even some feedback from the steering…”

    Read the full review here

  9. 13. Ferrari F12

    “In execution and direction it feels closest to the old 550 Maranello, one of my all time favourites. This is a car you’d live with and drive and love and admire and appreciate every day. Any day, in fact. Neither fragile nor delicate, the F12 is bombastic, epic and howlingly fast. There’s nothing else remotely like it…”

    Read the full review here

  10. 12. Mercedes A Class

    “Maybe the biggest criticism we can throw at the A-Class is that, for the smallest, lightest Mercedes, it doesn’t offer real fingertip involvement. Put it this way: we actually preferred driving the A-Class with 16-inch wheels and ‘comfort’ chassis than the version with stiffer springs and bigger alloys. This made us feel a bit odd…”

    Read the full review here

  11. 11. Porsche Boxster

    “Let’s cut to the chase; new Boxster is very, very good. Even on the worst backroads the Black Forest has to offer, it manages to suck up bumps and deliver it’s power in way that constantly impresses. It’s incredibly grown-up, acting like a big car when it really shouldn’t, flipping modes into a fun little roadster when it gets twistier…”

    Read the full review here

  12. 10. Porsche 918 Spyder ridealong

    “We career up a test-track runway, and then peel off at 90 degrees down a second, wide straight, where the driver decides to demonstrate the steering fidelity. He saws at the wheel, I’m crunched by my harnesses, and breakfast nearly comes back to decorate his wiring loom. This is an extremely wide car, and it’s so low your backside is barely higher than the paint of the lane markings. It grips like mad and doesn’t roll a bit…”

    Read the full review here

  13. 9. Ford Focus ST

    “Some hot hatches are set so hard that you’d need a bootful of replacement spines to tackle a mammoth road trip, but the ST feels far more… elastic: organic rather than brittle. We feared Ford might have lost its chassis magic with the uncharacteristically inert MkIII Focus, but we’re delighted to report it’s still there. This is a car touched by genius…”

    Read the full review here

  14. 8. BMW M550d

    “The M550d is the most powerful diesel BMW has ever produced: the triple-turbo (three: it’s the new two!) straight-six dishing up 376bhp and a barnstorming 546lb ft of torque, shoving the M550d to 62mph in 4.7 seconds: barely slower than the M5. But even those awesome figures don’t tell the full story: the chorus of turbos serves up full twist from just 2000rpm, meaning that monstrous clout of torque is on hand in even the most benign of situations…”

    Read the full review here

  15. 7. Audi A4

    “The A4 is so coldly, rationally competent in just about every department that it’s in danger of turning Audi into the Toyota of the exec sector: a purveyor of cars as white goods: objectively excellent, emotionally cold. OK, so the A4 would be a brushed-steel fridge-freezer not an off-white washing machine, but, even so, it’s a machine bigger on function than fun…”

    Read the full review here

  16. 6. Audi R8 V10 GT Spyder

    “This must be the ultimate Audi R8. Must be, as it wears the biggest price tag - a mighty 158,145 of your British pounds. So it stands to reason the R8 GT Spyder must be a hell of a car, a step up from the V8 and V10, a hardcore roadster to show the likes of the Merc SLS Roadster and Ferrari 458 Spider a thing or two…”

    Read the full review here

  17. 5. Batmobile ridealong

    “Cue the Chevy V8, and some internal ear death. Christ it’s loud. We set off, and the first thing that becomes immediately clear is how serene the ride is on a smooth, flat test track. Batman’s derriere must have been cosseted supremely by those enormous tyres. It’s actually a lot like riding in a Jaguar XJ, albeit one with an added propensity for rockety-bullety-carnage…”

    Read the full ridealong here

  18. 4. Suzuki Swift Sport

    “Keep the Swift Sport pinned against the red line and then, then it makes sense. No, it’s hardly mad-quick, but the Swift is über agile - never tilting as you wrestle it about, staying flat, riding neatly. OK, tip into a corner with too much speed, and it defaults to safety-first understeer, but, most of the time, it’s as bubbly as anything the Eighties ever mustered, keeping things simple, goading you to carry more speed through corners and maintain revs. Some will hanker for more power, but do you really need it?”

    Read the full review here

  19. 3. Peugeot 208

    “One thing is immediately clear on this all-new Peugeot 208 - it’s not as bad as the 207 or 206. Admittedly, this isn’t an achievement worthy of any Nobel Prize, but still, it’s crystal from the outset and even before you’ve sat in it, that the 208 is now a serious contender in the supermini market…”

    Read the full review here

  20. 2. Nissan Juke R

    “This is Jukezilla - the questions you want answered are the performance ones, right? So, is it fast? God yes. It gets to 62mph in 3.7 seconds. THREE POINT SEVEN. That’s 0.6 seconds quicker than an Aston DBS. But it’s not as quick as a GT-R - the Juke-R is 76kgs heavier than its donor because of the full Motorsport Association-spec roll cage and extensively tinkered floor pan…”

    Read the full review here

  21. 1. Toyota GT86

    “The GT 86 is light on its feet, not dainty exactly, but super accurate and so well balanced. I know it’s not especially relevant, but the ease with which this thing lets go at the back end is so refreshing, and even when not arsing about it’s just a joyful thing…”

    Read the full review here

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