Top five most surprising cars of 2012


2012 will go down in the history books as a cracking year for new cars.

Not only at every motorshow were we treated to a glittering array of tasty machinery, but it seemed every single week there was a brand new car that was launched.
Cars which were were bigger, better, more efficient, faster, roomier and more luxurious appeared from all of the world's largest and smallest car manufacturers' factories.

Coming up with a list of the top five cars which surprised us this year was hard. Our role call of the best five cars had to be ones which really left an impression on us and cars that really exceeded our expectations.

With regret some real crackers had to be left to one side; if we had some gongs, our highly commended awards would go the Volkswagen Golf MKVII; Volvo V40; Ford Focus ST; Fiat Panda; Mercedes-Benz SL; Peugeot 208; Kia Cee'd; Mercedes-Benz A-Class and the Citroen DS5.

Bu here are the cars which pipped them in 2012.

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Top five most surprising cars of 2012
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Top five most surprising cars of 2012

Why it's here: it really is a four-door supercar
Price: £73,065

We knew the BMW M5 was going to be good, but we didn't think it was going to be this good. Yes, it may have a V8 instead of the old car's muscly V10, but it is twin-turbocharged and has 560bhp. It gets to 60mph in 4.1 seconds thanks to a very adept seven-speed DCT gearbox, and is probably one of the finest handling rear-drive cars on the market today. All of this and it can carry four people in luxury, has a big boot and can return 29mph, if you're careful.

Why it's here: it's the best city car money can buy
Price: from £7,630

It may not have the styling flare of the VW Up or the cheeky character of the Seat Mii, but unlike its brothers the Skoda Citigo just makes an awful lot of sense. The Citigo is not a bad looking car, can seat in four in relative comfort, is built very well and, if you plump for the £9,050 SE GreenTech version, is free to tax and returns 69mpg. The VW Up may have more badge prestige, but in the city car segment that doesn't really matter.

Why it's here: bargain-basement motoring has never been so appealing
Price: from £8,995

It's barmy isn't. You can pay £9,050 for a Skoda Citigo, yet for £55 less you can have a full-size SUV with Tonka toy styling. The Dacia Duster is an incredibly impressive car largely because it's cheap, has satisfactory build quality and has a rugged honesty about it. We wouldn't go for the £8,995 car (it has no radio, is 2WD and only comes in white) but instead we'd buy the £13,495 Ambience 4WD version. Don't spend more than this because the maths just don't work out. 

Why it's here: it's probably the best car in the world
Price: from £71,295

The best just keeps getting better. 2012 may well have seen the glitziest Range Rover ever made, but it's definitely the poshest and the one which drives the most impressively. The new, lighter Range Rover is now a rival to the Bentley Mulsanne and can be tailored to just about any level. The majority of Range Rovers which will be sold in 2013 will be in excess of £110k!

Why it's here: it's a back to basics sports car
Price: from £24,995

Since 1989, the Mazda MX-5 has pretty much had the simple sports car market to itself. There may have been the MGF/MG TF and Toyota MR2 around as well, but the MX-5 showed back-to-basics can be fun. 2012 saw Toyota returning to this mantra. The GT86 may not be powerful or fast, but it has a refreshingly old school character about it and puts some more expensive sports cars to shame in the handling department. 
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