In the past, the coveted Travis Okulski Award For Best Car I've Driven This Year would go to the only car I drove: My Miata.
But in the last year since I've joined the glitterati world that is automotive journalism, I've been lucky to drive a veritable cornucopia of various and sundry excellent cars. What did I love and what did I loathe?
Let's find out together, shall we?
Now, I should say that going later in the lineup has made it difficult for me. Like Matt and Jason, I've driven the FR-S, Morgan Three Wheeler, Citroen SM, and Porsche Boxster, and I really loved them. But alas, I don't want to repeat what has already been said.
I was lucky enough in my first year of automotive journalism to spend time with many great cars. I've also had the misfortune of driving some upsetting cars that could be so much better.
Ok, without further ado, dig in for my picks.
Best: 2012 Cadillac CTS-V Wagon
How can this car not make the list? It's a station wagon with 556 horsepower. Who cares that it got 16 MPG on the highway? It can chirp the tires in first, second, and third. It's faster than most anything I drove this year AND can haul anything you throw at it.
Yet it's refined. Magnetic ride makes it supremely comfortable. It was also great around corners. The interior was awash in piano black accents and Alcantara as far as the eye could see. it was comfortable, beautifully built and really freaking fast. I also drove and loved the Camaro ZL1 (which shares an engine with the CTS-V), but the V is nicer inside and out, and you can see out of it. That's why you aren't seeing the ZL1 here.
If I had the money, I'd have one in a heartbeat. A heartbeat. Fantastic.
Best: 2013 Porsche Panamera GTS
I happen to be in a very small minority: I'm one of seven people that have liked the design of the Panamera since it was released. The other six people that like it designed the Panamera.
If you don't like the way it looks, don't worry, cause you'll love the way it drives. In terms of driving dynamics, the GTS is in a class of its own. It can cruise, but it can also crush corners. It's a far more capable car than pretty much everything in its class and is easily the best version of the Panamera.
Best: 2014 Audi R8
First, there were the looks. This thing is all robot futuristic and I seriously love it. But experiencing the car in all conditions is what sold me.
It's a supercar. It shouldn't be this good on mountain passes covered with snow and ice. It shouldn't feel like an A3 around town. It shouldn't be easy to see out of. But it is. It's all of these things. At least for me, the 911 has been unseated.
Best: 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth
Per dollar, the Abarth is the best sounding car you can buy. It's like a mini Italian supercar, all angry and growly. I love the way it looks and the way it drives. My only contention are the seats that make you feel like you're sitting on the toilet waiting to take a nice dump. But I can forgive it for that, because it's such a quirky fun little car. I was smitten from the moment I saw it.
It's also the only car on my best car list that I could theoretically afford outside of my dreams. Maybe I should buy one.
Worst: 2012 Toyota Prius C
I totally get the point of the Prius C. It's the ultimate expression of an economy car and perfect in towns and cities.
It's also sooooooo boring. If you're going to make a small city car, it should be fun and engaging to drive. It should be eager and zippy. That's what the Mazda2 is, it's a little puppy that wants to romp all day. "Come on, let's go for a run! I wanna catch that stick! Throw me a frisbee!"
The Prius C is Droopy Dog. "I'm tirrrrreeeeedddddd."
Worst: 2012 Infiniti G37S
I guess the G37 was actually my most disappointing car of the year, because it technically isn't a bad car. It was just not memorable. It was actually forgettable enough that I forgot to take a picture of it.
I found the interior lackluster, and the color combo on my particular car was atrociously bad: White with a light grey interior. It just didn't have any character.
The one part of the car that was memorable was the gearbox, and not in a good way. It possibly had the vaguest clutch and shifter I've ever used. Gear changes were rubbery and indirect and the clutch had about zero feel. It was nearly impossible to be smooth at all.
Thankfully there's a new one for 2014, cause this one needs to go away.