It’s time to get voting, as we unveil the first category in the 2012 Speedhunters Awards: we want to know which new car that’s hit the forecourts this year resonates the most with all of you out there. There has been an incredible number of important cars launched this year from across the automotive spectrum: for every cutting edge supercar there’s been an evolution of an iconic hatchback or saloon, plus we’ve also seen the release of some utterly ground-breaking new cars. So, which car has got you excited during 2012? Here are the nominations.
Of course there’s one brand new car that has everyone excited: the ZN6/ZC6. In whichever guise – Subaru BRZ, Toyota 86 or Scion FR-S – this car is a phenomenally important release. A proper, affordable, rear-wheel drive sportscar for the masses. Three cars in one, and one car for everyone?
Supercars may be out of the reach of most of us, but McLaren’s premise for the MP4-12C was to bring supercar performance into a (relatively) more earth-based price range. The 12C is a technological marvel, has drop-dead gorgeous looks and turns heads on both the track and the road. The 2012 Spyder and upcoming Can-Am edition further increase its cachet.
Lamborghini continue down the extreme styling route, releasing ever more aggressive, out-there cars. The Roadster drops the permanent hard-top and sports an even more sci-fi look whilst letting that 6.5-litre V12 sing even sweeter just behind the driver’s ears.
The latest iteration of the 911 continues to evolve the iconic shape:. After the 997 seemed to hark back to a more classic era, the seventh-gen 911 is a far bigger, more imposing beast. It’s only the third complete platform change since the original 911 of 1963, and although it looks larger with its longer wheelbase and fatter rear end, power is up and weight is down. A new 911 is always an important event.
However, even Porsche insiders whisper that the Cayman is the future of Porsche: a mid-engined, pure two-seater; sleek and lightweight. Porsche have effectively hobbled previous versions the dynamically more efficient Caymans so they don’t outperform the more expensive, rear-heavy 911 platform, but the 2013 Cayman has been let off the lease in S guise. Is this the future of Porsche?
The addition of a BMW M Power badge always promises an extreme driving experience, and the M5 is perhaps the ultimate example of a performance saloon. Supercar levels of power – over 550bhp from its twin-turbo V8 in fact – packaged under a disarmingly modest body mean that even the most ardent driver has to double-take before thinking of taking on Bavaria’s finest off the traffic lights…
I still find it difficult to put together the sounds of high-end Mercedes cars with their looks: the V8s they mount are like the noise of a thousand bombers coming straight at you, but when matched with AMG bodykits the Mercs look as mean as they sound. The C63 AMG Coupé Black takes the internals from the SLS, cranking up power to well over 500bhp, and adds in a hardcore racing bodykit that transforms the C Class in a slavering monster. Louder, harder, sharper.
The GT-R has had frequent updates released since its launch, but the Egoist model is the pinnacle of the range: in both performance and price. More subtle and luxurious on the inside but even more extreme under the hood, the Egoist packs 541hp, delivered via a variable AWD system. It requires a recalibration of just what you expect from a car.
Now a couple of iconic hot hatches fresh off the production lines. The Golf is now on its seventh version, and gone are a lot of the rounded, jelly-mould corners of previous models: the Mk7 is a fresh take on the old classic. Once again the Golf has grown in size, but that’s a common trend. It looks great and of course drives fantastically – have VW raised the bar yet again?
Ford are riding high at the moment, with a range of breathed-on cars that hark back to the glory days of the XR and RS models of the ’80s and ’90s. The Focus looks amazing in aggressive RS mode, and the Fiesta ST similarly bumps up both looks and performance – and is due for a US release to boot.
BMW F30 3 Series
The sixth generation of the legendary 3 Series debuted this year, and has been receiving stunning reviews around the world. Sportier, wider and more powerful, the 2012 3 Series takes all that is good about the saloon and further improves on it. The Ultimate Driving Machine?
Aston Martin’s howling coupé is the company’s most potent production model yet. Styling cues come from the One-77 supercar, and the sound of the 565hp V12 will be soon be shattering shop windows in the smartest areas of town…
Ferrari’s second V12 offering is, like the Vanquish, Ferrari’s fastest car yet, as the supercar marques try to outgun each other with statistics. The F12 adds a huge 119bhp over the 599GTB; the lines are long, the speed is high and the design oozes classic Ferrari with a modern twist.
Vaughn Gittin Jr is ready to rock with the new version of the RTR Mustang: its facelift is complemented by the addition of a new adjustable suspension setup, meaning that that the handling is even more taut, and an optional Ford Racing supercharger in the Spec 2 package boosts power to well over the 600bhp mark.
You won’t be using the Mono for the supermarket run – passengers are not invited and luggage space is non-existent. But find an open road in the countryside and you will find driving nirvana. The car is an example of precision engineering, but at the same time is no exercise in ticking technological boxes: it’s a pure driver’s car. It weighs nothing, is awash with the finest racing-originated components you can find, and has levels of performance and grip that makes grown men cry. It’s not about horsepower figures or chest-beating statistics, but it still delivers single-seater racecar performance made specifically to be enjoyed on the road.
So there we have our first 15 contenders in the 2012 Speedhunters Awards. Tell us which car you think deserves the title of New Car Of The Year. Get voting – the polls will close on December 27, after which you’ll be able to vote on the Car Of The Year, taken from the winners of all the categories.