Our guide to the Top 10 cars of the last 12 months

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Mazda MX5

The Boundless motoring team choose their top drives in price brackets to suit all pockets


Motoring Editor Sean McGreevy’s Top Five

 

05 – Audi TT

Red Audi TTThe futuristic lines of the original TT made it look like a concept car and the design is still striking today. We Brits are mad for this Germanic coupé – the UK is its biggest market – and now the third generation is here. It may not stand out as much as that original but it’s still a looker. Inside, three words come to mind: posh, plush and premium. It’s a swish place to spend your time and shouts quality with its aircraft-inspired design and leather trim. For sporty driving experience, the TT has upped its game. With the prodigious grip of its quattro all-wheel-drive, noise-inducing dynamic mode and its slick S-tronic gearbox, I challenge you not to be fully entertained. Prices from £27,150

04 – Land Rover Discovery Sport

Land Rover Discovery SportThe popular Freelander was always going to be a hard act to follow, but Land Rover have got it just right with the new Discovery Sport. The most important thing is that it has all the brand’s famous 4x4 capabilities – it’s fitted with the marque’s excellent Terrain Response that can cope with everything from snow to mud. I went up hill and down dale on sodden trails and took it through deep water and it dealt with everything I threw at it. It's none too shabby on the road, either, proving to have tidy handling and oodles of grip. Also, the spacious interior and 5+2 set up offers plenty of practicality for the ‘Disco’. If you are in the market for a premium SUV, make sure it’s on your list. Prices from £31,095

03 – Vauxhall Astra

Red Vauxhall AstraThis is all-new version is the seventh-generation of the ever-popular Astra. The car was designed by a Brit-led team and they did a sterling job with its looks. It's smaller in stature than the previous model, but interior space has actually increased and the cabin has a classy feel. The Astra is composed in corners and the ride can smooth out even some of the worst pothole- ridden roads. For the Vauxhall brand, it's all about connectivity and this is the first new model in the range with OnStar. The system turns the car into a Wi-Fi hotspot and the service is free for the first 12 months. A top contender in its class. Prices from £16,260

02 – BMW i8

BMW i8It was impossible to go anywhere without attracting attention in this car – it’s got curves on its curves, and the futuristic design means it looks like a car from a sci-fi movie. And then the dramatic wing-like doors open skywards… There's no chance of blending into the background in the i8, so wallflowers be warned. The space-age design continues inside and the finish is top notch. This plug-in hybrid combines a 1.5-litre turbo engine and an electric motor giving you 357bhp. You can cruise along serenely in electric drive or push it harder and the turbo engine kicks in. For feistier fun, stick it in sport mode. An impressively advanced lightweight supercar. Prices from £104,540

01 – Mazda MX-5

Mazda MX5Mazda took the world’s best-selling roadster back to basics with the new fourth-generation model. It’s shorter, lower and the lightest version since the original, which was first unveiled back in 1989. The MX-5 is considered a classic driver’s car and this latest model lives up to its fun-packed credentials. This rear-wheel-drive roadster handles with effortless fluidity and deftness. Its grip and agility in twisty corners is thrilling and put a broad smile on my face. This is the most striking looking MX-5 since the original: the low-slung and snug seating position fits its sporty DNA and the operation of its manual hood is simplicity itself. This Mazda really hits the spot. Prices from £18,495

 

Motoring Correspondent Charis Whitcombe’s Top Five

5 – ‘New’ Fiat 500

White Fiat 500 on the rooftop track at Lingotto, Turin, as seen in the Italian JobIn fifth place, I’ve chosen a ‘new’ model of an old favourite purely on the basis that it hasn’t changed at all. The new Fiat 500 is exactly the same as the old one: mischievous, charming, funky-looking, desirable. Everyone loved the old ‘new’ Fiat 500, and everyone still loves this version. Prices from £11,050

4 – Mazda CX-3

White Mazda CX3 on the open roadThe Mazda CX-3 wouldn’t have made it to fourth place if I’d relied on the marketing bumph that came with the car because – as I wrote at the time – it totally failed to brag about what, in my opinion, is the CX-3’s most outstanding feature. Buyers increasingly want chunky SUV lookalikes, regardless of the fact that most owners will never take their cars further off-road than the edge of the pavement, so what a delight it was to welcome the CX-3 that – as well as boasting beefy looks – is well poised and nimble on the roads, tackling corners without the bounce and lurch that afflicts so many of its contemporaries. Prices from £17,595

3 – Renault Kadjar 

Red Renault KadjarThird place, and we’re finally getting to cars that really stick in my mind from the past year’s road tests. The Renault Kadjar is, understandably, no sports car to drive but it’s another crossover that does more than go in a straight line. What really sets this car apart is its utterly gorgeous good looks, with a bold, bulging muscularity that raises eyebrows not only on passers-by, but from the driving seat. I only have to look out over that curvaceous bonnet and I come over all peculiar. A (less expensive) rival for the uber-successful Qashqai and an easier name to pronounce, to boot. Prices from £18,495

2 – Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell

White Hyundai ix35 Fuel CellI was blown away by the Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell, the world’s first mass-produced hydrogen-powered car. It’s a technical triumph, years ahead of its time, and therein lies the problem. Don’t rush for your credit cards just yet, because not only is this cutting-edge car outlandishly expensive, but the UK is currently almost devoid of hydrogen refuelling stations. I didn’t give this car second place on the basis of its practicality as family transport, however, but as a salute to Hyundai for producing a far-seeing vision of a possible future. Just imagine a not-too-distant world where we can generate our own hydrogen at home, from domestic solar panels, refuel in three minutes and drive over 300 miles, emission-free. Prices from £53,105

1 – Rolls-Royce Wraith

Rolls-Royce WraithHaving cherished a lifelong ambition to drive a new Rolls-Royce, I feared the experience would prove anti-climactic – but it wasn’t. This jaded, grumpy car hack actually giggled with glee at the lavish, over-the-top deliciousness of a car that is more that 17 feet long and weighs 2.4 tonnes, yet accelerates with feather-light response from zero to 62mph in 4.6 seconds. But it’s not the performance, it’s the luxury: the little button that causes the vast, rear-hinged driver’s door to swing silently shut, the illuminated Spirit of Ecstasy (a £78k optional extra – yes, seventy-eight thousand pounds), the perfectly damped and weighted in-car controls, the driver’s pack that states 'As you would expect, umbrellas are included in the door frames'. Next time you have quarter of a million quid or so in loose change, this is the thing to get. Prices from £237,747

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