Top cars of 2012

imageThe next 12 months will see a battle of the city cars, more safety measures introduced and plenty of historic motorsport action.

After last year’s roller coaster of politics and economics, previewing 2012 is going to be about as effective as lighting a match in a gale, although there are some things I am looking forward to. Chief amongst these is the forthcoming battle of the tiddlers between Volkswagen and Fiat over their new Up and Panda models. There’s little love lost between both chief executives, Martin Winterkorn and Sergio Marchionne respectively, and the fight between the two has already got quite dirty so watch out for fireworks.

Other cars I’m looking forward to are the new Toyota GT 86/Subaru BRZ, an old-school rear-drive coupé, the MG3 a Chinese Ford Focus competitor and of course the Focus RS. There’s a new VW Golf (stay awake at the back), a replacement Range Rover and a return of the Renault Clio Williams – yum. One of the most interesting of next year’s cars will be the Fiat 500 MPV, a sort of 21st century version of the famous Sixties Cinquecento Giardiniera.

Safety stuff we’re going to see next year will include the adoption of mandatory rear-view reversing cameras now that the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has finally written and passed into law what is known as the Cameron Gulbransen Transportation Act. Cameron was a two-year old who was killed after he was accidentally hit by a reversing SUV driven by his parents who had been unable to see the child because of a blind spot. It’s one of those examples of American legislation where something good comes out of tragedy and while it only affects American vehicles, hopefully it will be taken up in Europe.

I’m also waiting to see what the Transport Research Laboratory comes up with in its research into how to change the motorcycle test. No one really trusts the Driving Standards Agency, which has roared around creating confusion on this issue and it will be fascinating to see what it make of the TRL’s findings when they appear. I would also like to get a ride on a Honda VFR next year having promised and failed to do it this year.

Other stuff includes getting a better time from my newly re-engined Triking at next year’s Cholmondeley Pageant of Power (June 15-17), seeing the Cobra race at the Goodwood Revival (September 14-16) and driving my Aston with its new gearbox while trying to forget how much it cost me.

I’d also like to try to get a drive in Toyota’s new fuel-cell car, its first saloon to use this technology, and also spend a couple of weeks with a Prius Plug-in or Vauxhall Ampera to see if plug-in technology really does work for ordinary folk.

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