Our best drives of 2016

Our best drives of 2016
Our best drives of 2016

The cars that stood out in a great year for motoring

2016 hasn’t been the best year generally, but in the world of motoring, it’s been a brilliant one. We’ve had some of the best driving experiences of our lives, thanks to some exceptional new machines and rediscovered old favourites.

It gives us huge satisfaction to report a new Alfa Romeo is among them. The launch of the new Giulia may have been typically chaotic, but once we did get behind the wheel of the new 510hp Quadrifoglio, we discovered the car on which Alfa Romeo’s entire future rests is an outstanding one. Talented, exciting and brimming with character, we can’t wait to drive it some more in 2017.

Another high-performance saloon also stood out – the Mercedes-AMG E63. The firm launched it on the Portuguese Portimao racetrack, an intimidating place at the best of times. But it also sent us out for hot laps following DTM racing champion Bernd Schneider, a man not known for holding back even with journalists following him. The resultant session was amazing, culminating in formation powerslides on the cool-down lap. Well, how else to test the new E63’s Drift Mode..?

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Things were, sensibly, rather more calm back in the UK, when we had a Ferrari 488 Spider on test. All it took was a relaxed run on a twisty B-road for us to be in love. This is a flawed car and one usually at its most dramatic when driven in anger, but what lives in our memory is just how lovely it was when driven sedately on the B1117 on a crisp wintry morning.

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Less sedate was hitting 167mph in a BMW M2. Luckily, we were on the German autobahn. This is a car supposedly with a 155mph limiter, but the ease with which it shot past this was eye-opening. Going so quickly is an intimidating experience at first, but as confidence and awareness builds, so it becomes more exhilarating and thrilling. Particularly in a car as potent as the charismatic M2.

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Perhaps the drive that left us truly giddy with excitement was an on-track twin test between a Caterham 620 R and 620 S. We spent all day at the Welsh Anglesey circuit lapping with endless speed and enthusiasm, and the cars performed perfectly. Just how good it was later became clear as we struggled to keep straight faces when explaining the excitement to our wives and partners.

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Which sums up 2016 well. It’s not all gone to plan but in the world of cars, it’s been a memorable and action packed one. How will 2017 possibly top it? We look forward to finding out with relish…

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