December 31, 2020
Every day driving cars is a good day, but some good days are better than others.
Here are the cars that most excited the CarExpert team this year.
Looking back at the cars I've driven this year, the top three contenders for this question were all Korean.
I finally got behind the wheel of a Kia Stinger, for example, which as a relatively affordable, large, rear-wheel drive, twin-turbo V6 hatchback seems like a car that was designed specifically for me; the nimbler Genesis G70 also delighted. But it was actually the new Genesis GV80 that impressed me the most.
As an SUV, it was never going to be as fun as those two but the level of attention to detail Genesis has put into it impressed me.
I love to see upstart brands challenge the established hegemony and Genesis is rolling out product after product that have the interior craftsmanship, mechanical refinement and feature content expected of a luxury brand, even if Genesis has one hand tied behind its back with its small retail network and fixed pricing.
And though I'm a sedan man, I found the GV80 as satisfying to drive as the new G80 – possibly more so – and it's competing in a much higher volume segment that'll be crucial to Genesis' success.
MORE: Genesis GV80 Review
MORE: More Genesis news and reviews
Toyota GR Yaris
It's the Toyota GR Yaris at $39,000 drive-away. At that price you can't match the fun factor behind the wheel and how punchy the engine is.
Toyota takes it one step further, given this car was designed as a rally homologation special... before cancelling the rally car it was meant to be based on.
We had great fun putting it up against my GR Supra to see how it stacked up, and it's surprisingly quick despite being less than half the price.
At $50,000 before on-road costs it begins to make less sense, but the $39,000 drive-away offer will leave a lot of punters happy and driving around in the bargain of the century.
MORE: Toyota GR Yaris review
MORE: More Toyota news and reviews
Jaguar F-Type R
Possibly my first proper taste of exotic motoring, the F-Type R made me feel like I was living out a childhood fantasy.
The facelifted model looks fantastic and I just could not get enough of that supercharged V8 soundtrack. I know it's getting on a bit, but it's still such a cool car and it's so beautiful it turns heads everywhere you go.
MORE: Jaguar news and reviews
Lexus LC500 Convertible
There were a few competitors for this title. The Ford Fiesta ST was a highlight from early in the year, and the Audi S6 was a seriously likeable quiet achiever. But it was impossible to go past the LC500.
It looks like a spaceship, rides like a dream, and sounds like no other car on sale in 2020. Even the interior is a winner, save for the Lexus trackpad.
What more could you want?
MORE: Lexus news and reviews
Being based in locked-down Melbourne, I drove far fewer cars in 2020 than I have most other recent years. But that still leaves a reasonable field of contenders.
Probably the one that really sticks in my mind is the Audi RS7, with its biblical 441kW and 800Nm turbocharged V8 engine, quattro all-wheel drive, active dampers, and (in my test car's case) $20,000 ceramic brakes.
For a limo-length car to smash a 0-100km/h dash in 3.6 seconds, look as lithe as it does, yet also have a boot big enough for a family getaway, it has to be something special. And if you're an attention junkie, it causes more neck twisting from passersby than anything this side of a Ferrari.
MORE: Audi news and reviews
Land Rover Defender 110S
Nobody knew what to expect with only the second-generation Defender ever. Mostly, there was a global trepidation. But when I drove it and realised it was so much more than anyone had anticipated I literally wanted to shout from the rafters to tell everyone.
I happen to love the styling but I get that some folks may think it’s too much of a modern take. That’s fine, because off-road there’s nothing I've ever experienced previously that makes it all so easy and with such a high degree of comfort thanks to the engineering and electronic wizardry.
On road is just as impressive. You can punt this beast into a series of corners as you would a hot hatch and drive the wheels off it with complete and utter confidence, the chassis is just that good.
Ride comfort is simply extraordinary. I’m gushing, but it’s that good – and I’m taking about one of the lower-spec versions.
MORE: Land Rover Defender review
MORE: Land Rover news and reviews
My own car
Since March I've not driven or hopped into any car that's not been my own.
In fact, I even had to spend a small wad of cash so I could have a car to drive. Thanks 45. Thanks COVID.
It’s weird to say, but I was genuinely really impressed by the Genesis G80.
I was expecting a half-baked half-Hyundai product that made me think of Infiniti, but instead I drove a really well packaged and super luxurious vehicle that made me think, yes, Genesis does indeed have a bright future.
MORE: Genesis G80 review
MORE: Genesis news and reviews