In an average year, Top Gear magazine drives, reviews and rates every new car that goes on sale, as well as covering all the little tweaks and changes that manufacturers use to try and keep us interested. That's a lot of vehicles - somewhere in the region of 300 major new bits of metal a year. But every year some cars stand out. A long way out. And it's the exceptional ones that receive one of the most coveted worthless bits of statuary ever to grace a mantelpiece: a Top Gear Magazine Car of the Year Award.
Coveted not for intrinsic value - a poorly-rendered plastic trophy featuring the face of Jeremy Clarkson is worth less than its weight in recycling - but because of what it represents. Each award winner is selected by Top Gear's panel of expert motoring journalists, including the presenters of Top Gear TV, and is rigorously deconstructed (not literally, that would be silly), to make sure it really does live up to the hype. There are a lot of opinions. There is usually shouting.
Why? Because a Top Gear Award is different. An accolade from Top Gear isn't like other industry awards, because we don't ascribe overwhelming value to the size of the boot, or the lack of life-threatening oversteer at 170mph. Instead we honour cars that will satisfy some basic premise of car ownership. Cars that genuinely move the game on in terms of technology, cars that inspire and point the way to the future. Cars that make you laugh, smile and over-deliver on their promises. Cars with a decent chunk of soul, in other words.
This year the list is more eclectic than ever. Jeremy Clarkson sings the praises of a car with less than 200bhp, James May espouses the brilliance of a convertible capable of 200mph, and Richard Hammond celebrates the genius/madness razor's edge in the company of the Stig. The roll-call of winners ranges from a small brown vehicle worth £11k to carbonfibre exotica that tips the scales at more than £800k. From a tiny 4x4 supermini, to a luxury SUV with the go-anywhere potential of an air-conditioned mountain goat. The list includes anything-but-ordinary family cars, uncommon-or-garden hatchbacks and the usual smattering of supercar and hypercar insanity. And finally, it reveals the Top Gear Magazine overall Car of the Year. A result which may well surprise you...
Also this month...
Top Gear 2013 Calendar
This month's magazine also includes our incredible 2013 calendar, packed with all your favourites from the F12 Berlinetta to Aventador J. Exclusive to Top Gear mag.
Men of the Year
A salute from the car world to the humans who have gone faster, further, higher and harder
Get all of this, plus get the usual thoughts from Clarkson, Hammond and May, only in the Awards issue of TopGear magazine - out now.
Fancy a sneak preview of one of our winners? Then just click play below...