2014 has been a busy one for Speedmonkey. Colin and Matt drive the press cars, sometimes on loan and sometimes on media days - sometimes on the road and sometimes on track. Between us we've driven around 100 new cars. Here we each list our top five cars, and explain why.
Matt's Top Five
The Cayman has long been regarded as a better driver's car than its big brother, the 911. The Cayman GTS adds just enough va-voom to an already brilliant package to ensure that it not only obliterates the 911 in the handling stakes but everything else as well. Slide it into a corner, turn in on the brakes, apply the throttle sooner than you'd have thought possible in a road car and the hairs on the back of your neck will tell you how perfect the GTS is.
2014 will be remembered as the year Polestar emerged into the mainstream. AMG and M-Sport are now engineering divisions of big car companies but Polestar is still a race team who fettle the odd Volvo. This mentality shows in the way the mighty V60 Polestar performs. They could have made it more powerful but chose to concentrate on handling and ability. Expect many more Polestar Volvos in the future, and if they're all like this the partnership will flourish.
How could the Jaguar F-Type get any lovelier? Simple, get Ian Callum to design a coupe version. The F-Type coupe is the best looking Jaguar in a generation, and arguably the best looking car on the road today. The V6 S package provides the best balance of power and ability.
5 - Audi S1
The Audi S1 is essentially a VW Polo in a frock with masses of power and four wheel drive. As with all of these cars it adds a massive dollop of je ne sais quoi that transforms it from a humdrum hatchback into a manic ball of fury with razor sharp steering and oodles of agility on our horribly paved roads.
Colin's Top Five
1 - McLaren 650S
A development of the MP4-12C but better in every way. Breathtakingly fast and everyday usable the 650S has been built with huge attention to detail so every aspect is perfectly finished, with the instruments having a lovely tactile ‘feel’. It’s so fast it makes hypercars look a little pointless. If Apple were to make a car it would be a lot like the 650S.
2 - Alfa Romeo 4C
A brand new sports car engineered with the focus on lightness. Using a carbon tub and lightweight but powerful 4-piston, turbocharged engine it has a kerb weight of just 895kg yet provides big league performance. Capable of 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds and 41.5mpg the mid engined layout, light weight, wide track and well set up chassis means it handles like a ballet dancer. Shows the way forward for sports cars.
Mercedes' new S Class Coupé is both a continent and Continental eater. In AMG format its performance is devastating yet refined as the cabin brings S Class luxury and toys to a proper driver's car. Launched with one of Mercedes finest innovations, Dynamic Curve ride control is a system that tilts the car into bends for superior handing and traction. The drivetrain and interior quality along with stunning looks means it is a genuine Bentley Continental alternative.
4 - Audi RS Q3
Audi have put the SPORT into SUV with an elevated car with genuinely sporty performance. The first RS Q car is huge success in that it takes the roomy upmarket interior of a Q3 and injects it with sizzling performance courtesy of a TT RS 2.5 litre 5 pot motor. 306bhp and the latest twin clutch gearbox help achieve 62mph in just over 5 seconds and more importantly excellent overtaking ability. The RS Q3 is a fantastic everyday fun and family practical car.
5 - Peugeot RCZ R
Peugeot has reinstated its mojo with Peugeot Sport's thorough reworking of the RCZ. Race-spec engine internals, a mechanical LSD and serious chassis tuning have turned a handsome car into a seriously entertaining drive with genuine driver appeal. Even the RCZ’s well trimmed interior has received an upgrade courtesy of the best looking, comfortable and grippy seats this side of a Lamborghini.
By Matt & Colin Hubbard