These are your top 20 most-read car reviews of 2022
The cars you searched for over the last 12 months, in one handy list
It’s a highly powerful electric saloon car from Silicon Valley. The story isn’t new, sure. But the product you’re looking at is new. It’s called the Lucid Air, and it’s here to snap the rug clean from under the wheels of its rivals.
Rivals not strictly limited to Tesla. While the Model S was naturally on Lucid’s radar when it designed the Air, its engineering team actually had another car top of mind during development: the Mercedes S-Class. Yep, not even the electric EQS.
The Air is here to rip the old guard in two, with the big German three limos all potential victims. The Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and benchmark Merc are where Lucid sees itself nabbing new customers from. Which is probably why its headline figure isn’t its 0-60mph time, but its range: up to 520 miles depending on the version you choose. Just like a big ol’ tank o’ diesel used to provide.Advertisement - Page continues below
Almost a decade after launching the i3, BMW finally brought out its second fully-electric production car towards the end of 2021. And this time it looked normal.
In fact, it is normal. It's just another X3. Which is actually BMW's biggest selling car – yes bigger than the 3 Series. The X3 can be had as petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid and now full-electric. The version fuelled by unicorn wee is eagerly awaited.
Ferrari 296 GTB
A huge accomplishment. A successor to the legendary Dino. A genius bit of technical development. A warning shot across McLaren’s bows. Proof downsizing can improve the breed. Evidence that Ferrari has fully got its head around hybrid and electricity. Any and all are true. But this is probably the one that matters most: the best supercar available today.
This is the Ferrari 296 GTB. It is a deeply, furiously complex car. It never feels like that to drive. Neither on road, nor on track. Ferrari says it’s not a direct replacement for the F8 Tributo as that remains on sale (if only for another year) and is significantly cheaper. The 296 GTB costs nearly £40,000 more – £241,550. But it slots into the mid-engined ‘everyday’ Ferrari lineage that started with the 308 47 years ago and has continued without interruption – and with some legendary highlights, including the 458 Speciale – ever since.Advertisement - Page continues below
So what’s new? Not the platform – the new C sits on a heavily revised version of the outgoing car’s underpinnings, but is physically bigger in every respect bar height. Significantly the new C borrows much tech from the current-gen S-Class, including the basic layout and concept of its interior. The engines range from mild-hybrid four-cylinders to a plug-in petrol with a diesel on the way.
Rivals? The BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 are the big two, but there's also the Tesla Model 3, Volvo S60, Alfa Romeo Giulia and Jaguar XE to think about.
The boldest of bold moves from Jaguar: an all-electric SUV, the first credible rival to Tesla’s premium EV dominance, a car that beat its German rivals to market and a radical piece of design. The I-Pace signalled the start of something big when it first launched in 2018 – that mainstream manufacturers, not just Silicon Valley start-ups and BMW, were prepared to invest properly in building new-from-the-ground-up electric cars you might actually want to own, and might be able to afford.
Four words pretty much do it: 'Beefy-looking tall Golf'. It sits between the Taigo and Tiguan in VW’s nine-strong SUV line-up, and since its launch in 2017 over one million have found homes worldwide, with more than 72,000 sold in the UK.
And it’s not short of competition. It goes up against the likes of the Audi Q2, Ford Puma, Mini Countryman, Nissan Juke, Peugeot 2008, Renault Captur, Toyota C-HR, Vauxhall Mokka, and Volvo XC40. Not to mention in-house rivals like the Seat Ateca and Skoda Karoq (both of which are a bit bigger). No pressure, then.
In big news, earlier this year it received a mid-life facelift, so without further ado…
Ford Mustang Mach-E
Ford’s first fully-fledged electric car. And that makes it Very Important Indeed. You won’t find a Ford badge on it anywhere – we’ll come on to discuss what that means further on – but for now let’s dig into it a bit.
Firstly, some facts. Built on an all-new platform, it’s available with either a 75 (Standard Range) or 98kWh (Extended Range) battery, and with either a single motor (rear-wheel drive), or twin motor (all-wheel drive) layout. Claimed range is up to 372 miles, making it one of the longest-haul electric cars around. The entry-level car weighs just under two tonnes and has 265bhp, while the most potent GT version, capable of 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds, has 480bhp.Advertisement - Page continues below
Tesla Model 3
The Tesla Model 3 is an American four-door saloon car with rear- or -four-wheel drive, seating for five people at a pinch, and a touchscreen inside. Sure, it’s all-electric, but it hardly sounds A Verified Big Deal, does it? But the Tesla Model 3 is one of the most important big deals of the 21st Century so far.
This is Tesla’s affordable entry-level car, designed to take on the best-selling likes of the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, and Mercedes C-Class, not to mention their slow-off-the-mark electric cousins. And thanks to Tesla’s viral, household name status and the ambition of the car’s features, the Model 3 has become a phenomenon.
On the face of it this is a mighty attractive idea and an easy thing to describe: an electric 4 Series Gran Coupe. Although to be truthful it's not that, because frankly that'd be a bit of a bodge-up.
It has a different floor, suspension and even seats, all to fit around the electric bits. And it wears a new dash that's on-trend with the enormo-screen experience beloved by fashion-forward EV buyers.
By which of course we mean the Tesla Model 3 and Polestar 2. Yup, the i4 has in its sights those low-slung, fast but not-ridiculously-unaffordable electric cars. Prices for the rear-drive i4 eDrive40 start at £56k, for a zero-to-62mph under six seconds and 365 miles of electric range.Advertisement - Page continues below
The first fruit borne by the Volkswagen ID tree. Launched back in 2019, the ID.3 is a Golf-sized family hatch and the smallest member of the all-electric ID family, with the ID.4, ID.5, ID.Buzz having since joined the party – and more on the way.
It’s a crucial car for Volkswagen as it forges towards a new battery-powered era, seeking to clean up its oily reputation and silence the doubters who rage against the German giant for being too ponderous in taking electro-mobility seriously.
So, Volkswagen needs the ID.3 to sell in vast numbers, not simply virtue-signal from the corner of the showroom. As a result, there’s very little going on here that’ll alarm or confuse the traditional Golf customer.
It’s the Suzuki Jimny, or ‘Jimmy’ as every smartphone and laptop auto-correct feature insists on calling it. Good luck Googling one of these if you decide you want one. Come 2021 it was reclassified as a commercial vehicle (or van) due to emissions regs, with the rear seats lobbed in the skip, but supply was limited – so you’ll likely struggle to get your hands on a brand new one, while you’ll have to pay a fair whack for those in the classifieds.
Still, ‘want one’ tends to happen about three seconds after clapping eyes on the Jimny. Cuter than a Jeep Renegade and as sturdy looking as a Mercedes G-Class (but at six-tenths the scale), it’s one of those instantly desirable pieces of design, like a Fiat 500 or whatever Apple’s attached a lower-case ‘i’ to this week.
Jimnys have extremely loyal buyers, but for every one potentially warded off by the latest model going ‘fashion’, we'd wager it’s won five new fans via social media who’d never have had it on their radar before.
This is Porsche’s first all-electric car, previewed by the Mission E concept way back in 2015.
Let’s get a couple of things out the way first. Despite Porsche’s titanic engineering efforts in moving electric car tech forwards - and as we shall attempt to explain, it has - the Taycan is still an electric car. That means it still comes with limitations – namely range (280 miles for the Turbo if you drive like a learner), charging time (5 to 80 per cent in 22.5 minutes if you can find one of the comparatively few DC chargers in Europe capable of delivering 270KW) and weight (2.3 tonnes).
Stefan Weckbach, the man tasked with delivering the Taycan, predicts that when solid-state batteries come on stream in the next couple of years, you’ll be able to buy a Taycan with the same power output and range as this one, but 400kg lighter. For now, the Taycan is at the very pointy end of what’s possible.
It’s the Urban EV Concept that became a legend, the legend that became a prototype and the prototype that became the dinkiest, most desirable car since the Suzuki Jimny. It’s the Honda e, Honda’s first mass-market, pure-electric car (yes, Honda dabbled with the EV Plus in 1997, but only around 350 of those were ever built), and we want one.
Honda clearly isn’t going Tesla chasing with this one, the dimensions are Fiat 500-plus-a-bit, wider than a Jazz but actually narrower when you take into account it has no wing mirrors. This is very much an urban runaround. A range of 137-miles means you won’t want to stray too far from town, but a choice of 134bhp and 152bhp versions, both with decent performance especially up to 30mph, a chassis that’s been shown some of Honda’s handling love and a configurable driving experience mean it’s not out of its depth if you fancy a ‘proper’ drive… and have the battery to spare.
Now come on, you know this one. Wedgy Seventies supercar, seminal moment in car design, defined the era, helped set the mid-engined supercar template that has held true to this day, some 50 years later. The one, the only, Lamborghini Countach.
Mark II. So let’s start with the main issue here. Lamborghini claims this is what the Countach would look like if it had evolved. But the original was about revolution, not evolution – if there had been more Countachs each should have been a radical new beginning. It should not be a rebodied Sian, which in turn is a made-over Aventador. On that, Lamborghini and Top Gear will have to agree to disagree.
Skoda Enyaq iV
Skoda’s first purpose-built EV comes in three broad flavours – 60, 80 and 80x. The Enyaq iV 60 has a 58kWh battery and the pricier 80-badged models have a 77Wh battery. Everything without an x in its name is a single-motor, rear-wheel drive car, while the 80x has a more powerful dual-motor set-up and four-wheel drive. You’re looking at between 255 and 336 miles of official WLTP range, which is excellent for the money.
The 80 gets 201bhp and the 60 gets 177bhp, but there’s only 0.2 seconds between their 0-62mph times and they both have an equal 229lb ft of torque. Oh, and the cars charge at a max rate of 120 and 125kW respectively. The 80x develops a perky 261bhp – not that you'll be deploying that power too often unless you want to see your remaining range plummet.
There's also a sleeker Coupe version of the Enyaq iV, which in turn can be had in sportier vRS guise.
The crossover sibling of the ID.3 hatch, to absolutely no one's surprise. Among all the VW Group electric family, projected to shift millions of units, the ID.4 will be the worldwide pinnacle seller. It’d better be good then.
It’s based on VW’s designed-for-electric platform known as MEB. It’s available in rear- or all-wheel drive along with 52 or 77kWh battery variants, while there’s also a performance version called the ID.4 GTX. A GTI or R for the electric age? We'll see about that.
Rivals include the ID.5 (essentially an ID.4 with a coupe roofline), Skoda Enyaq, Audi Q4 e-tron and its Sportback sibling), as well as the likes of the BMW iX3, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, Tesla Model Y or even the Polestar 2. No pressure.
Obviously, it’s not a completely bespoke machine from the ground up. That’s not how the Volkswagen Group set about taking over Planet Car. Under its crisply creased skin, the Formentor is based on the same raw ingredients as the well-rounded Seat Ateca, or for that matter the VW Golf: same basic chassis, shared gearboxes, and the latest touchscreen infotainment centre from the brand-new (and pretty excellent) Leon hatchback.
The Formentor is longer and lower than the school run-spec Ateca, though, giving it a more butch stance. In the metal it’s a handsome beast, prompting one Top Gear staffer to wonder aloud how Cupra has been allowed to sneak out a design that’s so much better resolved than Lamborghini’s Urus. In this class, looks sell, and that’ll help the Cupra find a footing.
The Duster launched in 2010, priced under £10,000 and picking up the ‘cheap but actually quite good’ baton dropped by Skoda as it rushed upmarket. It was actually one of a small handful of small SUVs on offer then – the Nissan Juke was only just out – but the fact it’s steadfastly retained a brutalist approach to looks and interior layout as the rest of the genre’s gone berserk is admirable.
Every visible panel of this second-gen Duster is new, but the spirit of the original remains. It looks similar, and most important of all it's still cheap. Almost ridiculously so. At 4.3m long it's basically the same as a Qashqai - or that Kadjar. The fact we're several years into its life and the obligatory facelift has amounted to tweaking its lights the tiniest smidgen suggests Dacia’s tame approach to reinvention was warranted.
Hyundai Ioniq 5
That Hyundai is now confident enough to put a car as bold-looking as the Ioniq 5 on sale is impressive. But the fact this retro XXL hot hatch bodywork conceals one of the most complete family EVs money can buy is downright remarkable.
If Hyundai can maintain this momentum behind the upcoming members of the Ioniq family, then the likes of VW’s ID cars and even Mercedes’s EQ clan ought to be extremely worried.
By taking the punt that people are more likely to be converted to EV ownership if the car is desirable as an object and an experience – and gambling that there’s more to life than the European players’ softly-softly don't-offend-anyone approach, Hyundai has built an exceptional car.
This is the Polestar 2, and it’s a fully-fledged production car designed to do the hard yards in establishing Polestar as a big player in the EV scene. It’s gunning for the biggest bullseye of them all right now: the Tesla Model 3.
Polestar was once Volvo’s racing skunkworks, but it’s morphed into a standalone electric offshoot, jointly owned by Volvo and its Chinese mothership, Geely. Its cars are built in China, to be sold worldwide.
And while its first homebrew effort, a limited-edition headline-grabber, was a plug-in hybrid – the beautiful, £140,000 Polestar 1 – this is where it gets serious.