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Drive

Super Cars of 2014. Important Ones for 2015...

We reflect on some of our best drives of 2014 and look at some exciting new cars due in 2015


It's addictive...

Wow, it’s been a very busy 2014! Yes, we’ve been having fun behind the wheel of some sensational cars, yet the ‘ordinary ones’, i.e. the ones most of us can afford, have proved equally impressive.

For us ‘car buyers’ that has to be good news. State-of-the-art technology and a host of passive safety features, previously reserved for premium cars or as expensive ‘extras’, are increasingly becoming standardised in regular cars. Economies of scale, and parts/supplies cooperation mean we are constantly getting more for less.


 

Supercars

At the top of the performance ladder, the Ferrari F12 we road tested earlier in the year proved sensational. Mind-blowing in fact; 730 bhp honed into a road car is no mean feat. Do it as well as Ferrari do with the F12 and you have the Eighth Wonder of the World. It is a stroke of genius. Your head is pinned to the headrest from the moment you ask it to deliver. It may cost £240,083, but the experience is ‘priceless’.

We’ve just stepped out from behind the wheel of the latest Porsche 911 Turbo, and earlier in the year we took a manual version of the entry 911 Carrera to Wales. Both equally impressed us. This latest evolution of the brand, regardless of spec, just oozes breeding and pedigree. Each time we drive a 911 we think ‘it can’t get better than this’ and then Porsche work their magic and it gets better still.

Similarly, Maserati is on a roll. The luxury mid-sized saloon challenger, the new Ghibli, is lifting Maserati’s sales fortunes, and their diesel-engined variants of Ghibli and Quattroporte are taking Maserati sales to new heights. It’s wonderful to be celebrating the growth of a great brand, and we have every intention of sharing the Maserati cause for celebration in 2015.

And we must never forget Lotus. We drove Elise, Evore and Exige this year. Lotus are the ‘Chassis Masters’ – just one enthusiastic stint behind the wheel is all you need to be smitten by the brand.

Audi’s growth is moving at a pace too. The Audi R8 V10 Plus we took on test to Wales recently puts this car amongst the finest mid-engined supercars in the World. It’s addictive, and if you owned it you would spend most of the time just driving it around for pleasure.

We’ve enjoyed some fascinating Sports Coupe’s too. The Kia Pro Ceed GT proved that fun, usability, performance, comfort, and economy can be achieved in a strikingly designed package. The BMW M235i is another jewel of a motor, probably one of the best ‘BM’s’ of the year. That said, the whole range of contemporary BMWs are a strong line-up, but the ‘sweet spot’ award must lie with M235i.

The Volvo V60 Polestar was the biggest surprise of the year. Volvo should market this car hard – it works as an alternative Audi RS4 contender, yet is as passive to the eye as any standard V60. Underestimate it at your peril.

In the hot hatch sector – we were equally excited about Peugeot’s 208 Gti and of course the Ford Fiesta ST. We thought the ST was the all-round better car, but the Peugeot was more comfortable and user friendly. The ST buyer will thus be invariably younger and hard core. The 208 GTi buyer will be me.

In the mid saloon sector Peugeot’s 308 Feline, with its small 1.2cc engine proved remarkably impressive, as did the Hyunda i30. Lots of spec with oodles of comfort, and stylish to boot – all for eighteen grand.

Important cars for 2015

The new Jaguar XE is definitely one such car. Watch out Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C Class, for the long awaited baby Jag is here. Prices start at £26,995 and the car looks set to be a Jaguar best seller. It’s a result of £2 bn worth of investment in a new factory on Land Rover’s home turf in Solihul, where it’s mostly aluminium bodyshell is constructed. We’ll be featuring the car in detail in early 2015, How could we not?

Volvo’s new XC90 will also have eyebrows raised in 2015. Volvo have been teasing the market for a while with this car, and it is likely to be a standard setter in the segment, especially with its bespoke interior design. Recently shown at the Paris show in October 2014, we will soon see the results, and we expect this car to be a big boost to Volvo sales.

The new Mazda MX5 will be a big hitter too, again featured elsewhere in these pages. A new MX5 is a big ‘Ask’ for Mazda – their answer is Skyactive technology and KODO design. We will definitely see this car in 2015, and whilst official on the road dates are unannounced, we anticipate that all will be enjoying this car by the summer.

Two others to watch out for are the new Land Rover Discovery Sport and the Honda Civic Type R. Another show topper, the new Land Rover Discovery Sport graces these shores on 22January 2015 and can be yours from prices ranging from £32,395 to over £40,000. The Discovery falls between the rugged Land Rover Defender and the up market Range Rover making it likely to be one its best sellers in the range. This new Discovery is intended not only to cement the relationship with loyal enthusiasts but also convert many new customers to the brand. As such it seeks to successfully combines premium luxury car experience with day to day practicality.

And last but not least, in 2015 the highly anticipated Honda Civic Type R is back! This one will be sensational and destined to be the best ever. Seen most recently in concept form at the Geneva Motor Show, it’ll hit our streets in, we think, circa Summer 2015. Prices are currently guesswork, but be looking at around the £30,000 mark. It’ll deliver about 290 bhp from turbocharged 2.0 litre iVtec engine, and no doubt a whole lot more in the thrill department. We can’t wait…roll on 2015!

- Kevin Haggarthy

Top Image - Audi R8

Middle Image - Lotus Exige

Bottom Image - Ferrari F12