It will come as no surprise to hear that in this line of work we get to drive some pretty badass cars. At the same time, sometimes, juuuuust sometimes, we are handed the keys to a car that is — how do I put this gently? Crap.
Without further ado, these are the three best cars, followed by the two crappiest cars I have driven in 2012.
Best: Datsun BRE 510
Hey, there are no rules saying I can't pick an oldie! This is not just the coolest car I have driven in 2012, but one of the coolest cars I have driven period. The car I drove was none other than John Morton's 1971/72 Trans-Amwinning #46 BRE 510, at Memphis Raceway.
Why was it incredible? Because it's beautiful, raw, alive and legendary. I could go on and on. The noise? Holy crap! The history and stories behind this car made it extremely special to drive. Something I will never forget.
Best: 2013 SRT Viper
I've always loved the Viper. Like the BRE 510, it has a heart and a soul – something rare in today's day and age. Admittedly, the old Viper would kill you. But with the 2013 model, it's like a snake wrangler dangling a venomous serpent just a few feet away from your face. The fear of being bitten by the giant deadly fangs is intense, but the snake is just far enough away to keep missing with its vicious strike.
It'll get your heart racing — and your bowels moving — but this time, you step out of the car alive.
Best: 2013 Tesla Model S
It's electric, I know, don't hate. But tell me honestly that you're not the teensiest bit intrigued by the Model S? Ha, thought so. The technology within the car – like the 17-inch touch screen that controls every aspect – is quite remarkable, and unlike any other car you've driven. Mix that with the immediate response of an electric motor (yes, the Model S beat an M5 in a drag race) and you are left with a weirdly exciting machine.
I have serious concerns over the long-term reliability of the Model S, and I could never imagine it as a legitimate replacement to the internal combustion engine, but as an engineering/technological exercise — and something to compliment your Viper and Datsun 510 — the Tesla Model S is truly fascinating. I kept thinking about this car for days after I had driven it. In my experience, that's a good sign.
Worst: 2013 Toyota Corolla
It's dull, bland, beige, uninspiring and - like Chelsea Clinton – hideously boring. It's like playing foosball against a man with no arms. From behind the wheel, it's emotionless and lacks feeling. It is a means of transport that gets you from A to B. Personally, I'd rather take a bus filled with murderers.
Worst: 2013 Lexus LS460 F-Sport
This is the most pointless car in the history of the world. I like the LS460, so when I came to drive the F-Sport I was particularly excited.
Here's what Lexus did to the LS460 to turn it into the souped-up F-Sport: Tweak the grille, gave it some new boots, didn't touch the engine, completely ruined the interior… And that's basically it.
It still drives like a cruise ship, and the "more sporty" interior is simply a worse interior. If you press the paddle to change gear, the transmission appears to run to the shop, buy the cog you have requested, then proceed to mount the gear, and eventually select it for you. By which time you'll have given up and gone to the pub.
Tip: If you are going to name a car "F-Sport," it's probably a good idea to make it somewhat sporty. Otherwise, you'll just end up with a tweed sports coat.