Which were the best cars of 2010?
It's that time of year again, when the Autoblog team look back at the cars we've driven this year and pick our favourites.
We've driven and reported on hundreds of cars this year, but in the interests of length and relevance, myself and the rest of the bloggers were given the tough task of slimming down our favourites to a top three.
The results are below, as always let us know if you agree or disagree.
1. Ford Focus RS500
The exclusive run-out edition of the superb Focus RS might only have a 45bhp advantage over the standard model, but it from behind the wheel it feels more like 150bhp. Flooring the fun pedal on the RS500 is about as intoxicating as necking a bottle of tequila. The car's official 0-60mph time of 5.6 seconds does not do the visceral experience of its acceleration justice, and when a bend is reached there's still the sublime feedback and adjustability of that chassis to enjoy. A triumph.
2. Honda Civic Type R Mugen
It's standard practice for a manufacturer to suggest that their latest hot hatch is one step away from a track car, but the Civic Type R Mugen is the one car which comes close to fulfilling that promise. Honda's Mugen engineers have bestowed the limited edition model with so much talent that it almost justifies its colossal asking price. The Mugen's poise, turn in and uprated VTEC pace are all staggering. The one car I've driven this year that I actually considered not returning.
3. Audi RS5
Audi's RS badge is rarely attached to anything undeserving, but the Quattro division has really nailed its colours to the mast with this four-seat sensation. The V8-powered RS5's relentless pace is as addictive as Haribo but never intimidating thanks to the stupendous grip afforded by Audi's lastest all-wheel drive system. All of this is wrapped in a package that's better made than your house, and better looking than Kelly Brook. R8 aside, this is the best car Audi currently sells.
1. Audi R8 V10 Spider
The reason why the R8 Spider makes my list is that there are few convertible versions of supercars that look as good or drive as well as their tin-top original. Thankfully, the R8 is one of these. Also, the transformation from Coupe to Spider is so sympathetically done that the R8 always looks like it was meant to be a drop top. The only demerit is the Spider is heavier and slightly slower, but you'd hardly notice. Still, top down you get to enjoy more of the V10's sonorous soundtrack.
2. Lexus LFA
One of my motoring highlights of 2010 was the chance to drive the Lexus LFA. Originally a concept from 2005, Lexus then teased us with a game of 'will they or won't they'? In 2010 they finally did and the result is stunning. Firstly, there's the exterior and interior which are unique and feel wonderfully bespoke. Then, there's the engine, a mega 552bhp, 5.2-litre V10. Accelerate and it sounds fantastic, I can only compare the soundtrack to the howl of an F1 car. It's not quite perfect, the auto box is clunky and the steering lacks feel, but it's an amazing first attempt at a supercar.
3. Nissan Leaf
It might not look like it, but the Leaf is the world's first mass-production, all-electric car. It looks normal, perhaps too normal, as I think the styling is the least successful part of the package. It's on the road where the Leaf justifies its Car of The Year winning status. The electric motor may just have 109bhp, but it boasts 280Nm of torque - that's as much as most hot hatches and all that torque is available immediately - so it's great fun to drive. The Leaf feels at its quickest around town, but thankfully the package feels good on the open road too and only felt underpowered in economy mode that retards acceleration.
1. Citroen DS3
The arrival of Citroen's funky, three-door supermini did two things. First it provided a genuine rival to that ubiquitous example of an up-market small car, the MINI, and secondly it showed us all that Citroen's recent track record of making average cars could be at an end. The DS3 is not only good looking, with that 'floating' roof meaning it stands out in a class where everyone is trying to look different, but it is also good to drive. Where other Citroens are soft and wallowing, the DS3 is sporty, responsive and possesses a gearchange that is slick and accurate. The 1.6-litre turbo is a proper little hot hatch. Hopefully the next set of Citroens will follow in its path.
2. Nissan Leaf
Almost every car that goes on sale claims to change its segment, create a new niche or appeal to a new audience. Largely this is rubbish, but in its new electric car, the Leaf, Nissan genuinely has something new and innovative. Yes there are obvious limitations such as how far you can drive it between recharges. And yes, there have been other electric cars in the past, but never ones that have made it on sale, or looked like they are a genuine option as family transportation. The Leaf not only seats four, but has a boot that will carry a load of shopping and should cost pennies to run compared to a normal car. Best of all though, the Leaf is fun to drive, showing the future of motoring need not be dull.
3. Nissan Juke
With like-it-or-loathe-it looks, there will be some that will pour scorn on this choice without reading any further. This is a shame as it will prevent people from appreciating a very enjoyable, practical and good value car. What is all the more impressive is that this is based on a supermini platform, making it easier to park around town than other cars of this height. Just as the Qashqai forged new ground for Nissan, so should the Juke.