Porsche Boxster S
Okay, it’s visually challenged from some angles despite a subtle bodykit, but this ‘junior’ M car is such fun to drive and one of the surprises of 2012. It always feels fast thanks to a 316bhp six-cylinder turbocharged engine and the rear-wheel drive handling balance is blissful. At £29,995 this pocket rocket is £10,000 less than Audi’s all-wheel drive RS3 (BMW).
Aston Martin DB9
Grand touring, in the grandest of manner, is what Aston Martin’s two-plus-two DB9 does best. The extra space of those two ‘kiddy’ seats means room to toss a couple of coats or bags. Divine looks and sharper driving dynamics are married with charismatic 517bhp V12 engine. Price £131,995 (Aston Martin).
Vauxhall Astra VXR
With a storming 276bhp from its turbocharged 2-litre engine Vauxhall’s VXR Astra doesn’t often stand still long enough for folk to admire its racy styling. The body comes from the attractive GTC Coupe but if that’s too subtle you can jazz things up with a big rear wing and huge 20in wheels. A clever limited slip differential helps the front tyres cope with the grin inducing power (Vauxhall).
Mercedes C63 AMG Black Series
Taking most family saloons to a race track would be a waste of time. Take a Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Black Series and you’ll discover a data logging system so you can compare lap times and see where to save time in your 186mph supersaloon. Powered by a 510bhp V8 the £115,000 Black would suit Mr Incredible and family on their days off (Mercedes).
Chevrolet Camaro Convertible
Yes, there are faster cars, and better handling ones, and despite a rumbling 6.2 litre V8 engine, more powerful ones; but when it comes to personality mixed with style the 394bhp Chevrolet Camaro is a tough act to beat. Be even better with louder sports exhausts though. Only available as a left-hooker it lists at £42,325 (Chevrolet).
Ferrari F12 Berlinetta
No-one ever moaned their Ferrari 599GTB lacked power, but its F12 replacement has a titanic 6.3 litre V12 engine capable of delivering 730bhp – 119bhp more than the 599 – if the tyres can find enough grip. Looks hunched up when cornering. Hope the owners take some driving courses on how to pilot their £240,000 projectiles. And yes, I’d still rather have an F40 or an Enzo (Ferrari).
It’s the new Range Rover’s job to look good everywhere, from deserts to driveways, and though the press drives off-road were the tamest I’ve ever seen, and the car slid about on its fat tyres, it should still cope with anything owners throw at it. Lower weight aluminium body means the 3-litre diesel’s the motor to go for. ‘My’ car averaged 23.1mpg. Prices from £71,295 (Range Rover).
McLaren MP4 12C Spider
Near effortlessly fast so you’re never quite sure if it’s you or the on-board computers doing the driving if you’re pushing the grip envelope, but it’s great to have a world class British car in the hallowed echelons of convertible supercars. New for the £195,500 Spider is an upgraded 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 engine with 616bhp instead of 592bhp (McLaren).
Proving lots of money doesn’t mean more fun when it comes to cars, my Car of the Year is Toyota’s GT86 Coupe for £25,000. It’s a real driver’s car that you have to work hard to make the most of its limited (186bhp) power and narrow tyres means you can feel as the grip gives out. In these days of motorised sofas the GT86 is what real motoring is all about (Toyota).