Despite 2020 being, y’know, 2020, TeamCT still managed to get behind the wheel of many exciting cars. Picking our favourites is no easy task, but after wracking our brains, we’ve put together this list for your viewing pleasure.
For 2020, CT editor Matt, head of video Alex, Dennis Automotive Editorial Director Steve Fowler and our shoot helmsmith Jonathan Benson each picked a couple of favourites. As with last year, there are no rules, although since we drive more new cars than anything else, this list will be skewed towards newer metal.
Here’s what we came up with:
The Toyota GR Yaris isn’t just my favourite car of 2020 - it’s the best thing I’ve driven since we started doing these lists six years ago. With most new cars, it’s reasonably easy to predict how they’ll feel, but with the Yaris, I didn’t have a clue. There’s nothing else out there even remotely like it, and sure enough, that’s reflected in the way it drives.
There’s a proper, permanent all-wheel drive system capable of biasing the rear wheels, a power output that’d make the Ford Fiesta ST blush, and proper WRC homologation pedigree. Yes, Toyota ended up cancelling the rally car, but that merely makes the road car more special - it’s something we technically shouldn’t have.
It’s a riot to drive and is arguably the closest thing you can buy new to a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. And the best part? You can get one for under £30k.
It’s tempting to leave the 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 off this list since it’s merely righting the ‘wrong’ of the outgoing 2.5-litre flat-four model by bringing back the flat-six. But the launch of a brand new, naturally-aspirated sports car these days is so atypical, the Boxster and its similarly powered Boxster GTS brother really stand out. Particularly as the new 4.0-litre is an absolute belter of an engine.
And remember, these aren’t special editions you’ll only be able to buy if you’ve been on the local dealer’s Christmas card list since 2007 - they’re regular production models anyone can have. Well, anyone with a spare £65k.
Other than the reasonably lofty price of entry, the only thing not to like is the long gearing of the manual, but Porsche has solved that with the optional, shorter-ratioed PDK version. A PDK’d Boxster was one of the last cars of the year we drove, and if anything, we liked it even more than the manual.
The Honda E is the personification of a good hug - warm, friendly, necessary, always worthwhile, and after spending a week with it, I loved the thing.
Notable highlights include wicked-fast 0-40mph acceleration (after which it drops off, giving the E a 0-60mph time of 9.0 seconds), rear-wheel drive, an incredibly small turning circle, and top marks for driving fun.
What’s more, it’s great to look at, with a sleek, simple and modern exterior, while the eco-friendly interior is light, uncluttered and calming. Speaking of the interior, the E also features an HDMI port, a three-pin plug socket and USB sockets, meaning that you can cook, game and charge without leaving the car.
Overall, though, the E wins my vote for its fresh approach to EVs, fun factor and focus on tech.
While the Honda E was one of the coolest cars I drove in 2020, the Cyan P1800 is the best car I’ve ever driven, period.
To explain why, you need only look at the numbers: 950kg, 420hp, +170mph and a 0-60mph time of around 4.5 seconds, traction allowing. The 2.0-litre turbocharged in-line four is vicious, the noise is brutal, the five-speed manual gearbox is just perfect, and the lack of ABS and traction control ensures that this is a car you have to dedicate all your concentration on. It is the drivers’ car of 2020.
OK, this is a £375,000 Volvo, but for a Swedish Singer with Rebel blue paintwork and carbonfibre panels, it’s a steal. I’ll have mine on 16-inch wheels, though - these 18s don’t do it for me.
You can see our review of this car on the channel in early January.
One day, and this sends shivers down our spines, Ferraris won’t come with V8 engines in them – like everything else they’ll have to be electric. But until then, let’s celebrate what is one of the greatest series of sports cars ever made - the V8 Ferrari. We got into the latest, the F8 Spider, just after the first lockdown and what a way to get back out on the road.
The 711bhp 568lb ft twin-turbo 3.9-litre V8 is the star of the show. Followed pretty closely by some of the sexiest bodywork to clothe a modern-day Ferrari – helped by the bright yellow paintwork of our car. What’s just as impressive is the tricks the aerodynamics do, while still managing to look great.
The F8 is lighter and faster than the 488 it replaces and it’ll really flatters drivers. It’s sensationally fast with bags of feel and super-advanced tech that will make you feel like Charles LeClerc even if you look more like Charlie Clark, the plumber from Walthamstow.
Talking of tech, we also had a blast in the Ferrari SF90 - so why not that one on the list? Simple: it’s computer game fast, but also computer game complicated. If you like pressing touchscreens in your supercar, then you’re welcome. We prefer driving.
The other things Italian car makers do best are small cars, like the all-new, all-electric Fiat 500. Don’t be put off by the plug-in nature of this new car that looks like the one before and the one before that. It actually works well where the 500 works best - in the city.
The instant shove of torque as you floor the throttle makes the 500 feel like an old-school hot hatch – up to around 30mph at least. And even on big-ish wheels the ride is okay and it’ll scoot around corners without a hint of tyre squeal. It’ll go for around 200 miles between charges, with quick charging options, too.
You can decide if you like the retro looks, but without having to cool an engine in the front, this latest model looks more like the original without a gaping grille. Inside it’s not a cute overload as there’s plenty of big-car tech. But thankfully no big car price. This is one of the more affordable and more fun EVs you can buy, with prices starting under £20,000.
The average F-150 Raptor might spend more time on the road than off-road, but having tested tyres with both the old V8 and new V6 Turbo during 2020, I can assure you it is the real package. It’s a full fat, full sized, full power Baha-inspired truck that can take some serious off-road punishment.
The newer EcoBoost V6 version has undoubtedly lost some some of its soul, but it’s even faster and more capable than the previous one thanks to a considerable diet. You’ve not off-roaded until you’ve put the Raptor suspension in soft, and spent a day in what feels like an oil tanker drifting around on dirt.
Having covered nearly 2000 miles in seven days in a C8, you really start to appreciate it for what it is. The new Stingray is an excellent sports tourer with the ability to be as swift as almost anything in its price bracket, which - let’s not forget - is the UK equivalent of £45,000 for a 490bhp mid-engined toy, adorned with genuine supercar looks. Although it’ll be much more expensive when it gets here, the C8 will still be a bargain.
The stock setup might have a little too much understeer but the guys at Chevrolet have thought of everything and created a sportier ‘track’ suspension geometry which owners can apply themselves with some fiddling. The only real drawback is a result of that low price - it’s not supercar quality inside, but considering everything good about this car, it can be forgiven. The first few of these on UK road will get a LOT of attention.