Best motoring Christmas gifts 2020: CAR's top picks this Xmas

Published: 27 October 2020

► The best present ideas for Xmas 2020
► From books to racing games
► Or a subscription to CAR magazine

Looking for the perfect present for a petrolhead? Look no further than the 2020 CAR christmas gift guide. To make your life a little easier, the CAR editorial team has assembled a list of its favourite products over the last 12 months – from the best books, to the best racing games and everything in between. With any luck, there'll be something in here that captures your imagination. 

Keep reading for the best motoring gifts for christmas 2020

A race with Love and Death

Richard Williams has written wonderful books vividly telling the stories of Enzo Ferrari, Damon Hill and Ayrton Senna. But this latest one tops them all for drama, insight and casting fresh light on old events.

"A Race with Love and Death” is the tale of Richard Seaman, Britain's first great Grand Prix driver, as the subtitle calls him, who famously won the 1938 German GP in one of the Hitler-backed Mercedes Silver Arrows, and died in a crash in 1939.

Seaman was an ambitious British racing driver who excelled in domestic events but looked to Germany for the factory drive that would enable him to become a Grand Prix winner. This was in the 1930s, so with the benefit of hindsight we wonder what he was playing at.

'He just kind of slipped away, in a way that Stirling Moss never will, for instance. I thought he needs to be restored to a position that he deserves. It's a great human story,’ Williams told CAR. A must read. 

Check out a list of other books recommended by the CAR team

Bentley Naim soundsystem

British hi-fi brand Naim is responsible for the top-of-the-range soundsystem in current Bentley models, and now the two companies have colloborated outside of the automotive world. The result is the Special Edition Mu-so, a wireless speaker system that can even transform the sound of your TV. Simply put, it's a speaker than can be used in a multi-room system, like a Sonos, only in this case it features details you'd expect from a £1799 collaboration. 

The Special Edition Mu-so is made from Ayous, a sustainable African hardwood, that's stained and repeatedly lacquered to put it a class above the standard model. Throw in a copper-threaded speaker grille and the signature Bentley lattice design – and this is luxurious piece of design. 

Get it here

Lego Defender

As the covers were coming off the actual Land Rover Defender, Lego announced a version that’s both far more accessible to more people and available far earlier than the “real” thing.

The car itself has plenty of clever details. The doors, bonnet and tailgate all open, and there are five seats inside, and there’s an Adventure Pack-style roof rack with ladders, traction mats and a storage box and a working winch.

At £159.99 on Lego’s own store, the Defender kit is more expensive than the 911 RSR but half the price of the Bugatti Chiron.

Getting to the finish line will be immensely satisfying, not least because the build us such a challenge but because what you get at the end isn’t just something to put on a shelf.

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Bugatti Baby II

The Bugatti Baby II is the French maker’s 110th birthday present to itself. Revealed in prototype form at the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show, it’s now in full production for a limited run of 500 customers.

It’s a nuts and bolts replica of the 1924 Type 35 Lyon Grand Prix car, powered by an electric motor and available in three specifications.

In the cold light of day £27-£52,000 seems outrageous steep if you view the Baby II as a child’s play thing, but it’s so much more than that. This isn’t a toy car for kids, but a scaled down Bugatti complete with all the performance and quality as you’d expect. Going wheel to wheel with a dozen other scale Bugattis on a go-kart track sounds like something of a dream afternoon, doesn’t it?

Read our review here

F1 2020 game

The law of diminishing returns is a concept well known to F1 fans. It states that as a something gets closer to perfection, the amount of gains to be had will reduce with the same amount of work. It’s why F1 cars make leaps and bounds in performance just after the introduction of new technical regulations, and why those gains plateau as the rules reach maturity.

The same can be generally said for F1 games – only this year, F1 2020 breaks the trend. This year’s game has little resemblance to the modified calendar Formula One is following in real life, but it’s the most accurate way to create the 2020 season as it should’ve happened.

You would have forgiven F1 game director Lee Mather and Codemasters for taking a gap year in 2020, but here’s F1 2020, an act of clockwork defiance in these weird times. Just like the Mercedes-AMG W11, F1 2020 is the most complete package we’ve seen in a long time.

Check out our favourite racing games here

Assetto Corsa Competizione

F1 racing might have the technology, the overall speed and the glamour, but it’s GT racing that arguably has the closest, most nail-biting racing. The GT World Challenge championship is a great example of this – and now there’s a game that lets you relive the 2018 and 2019 season. Two more things: it comes from the makers of one of our favourite racing games: Assetto Corsa, and it’s now available in PC and console.

GT cars arguably sit in the sweet spot of racing cars. Touring cars, road cars and classics can often feel too unpredictable and slow, while open-wheelers and Le Mans cars are much faster, grippier and also snappier. GT cars fit somewhere in between: they’ve got oodles of grip and are rapid out of corners, but they move around just enough to give you real feedback.

There’s nothing routine about driving in Assetto Corsa Competizione. There’s so much detail and room for error in that when you do nail a lap on the edge, not only does it look like art – with throttle, braking and tyre grip fighting together in harmony – there’s a serious sense of achievement too.

A racing wheel

Of course, you don’t need a racing wheel – but if you’re particularly interested in racing games, they’re worth a look. Simply put, they unlock another dimension to most good racing games, giving you increased feedback from – and control of – your virtual ride.

They offer more control and provide more information than a pad, and that translates to more precise inputs, and ultimately, quicker lap times. Even if you’re an arcade racing fan, but want to experience another level of interaction, a racing wheel is still worth a look.

The next PlayStation and Xbox One X are due this holiday, so you'd be forgiven for holding back on a PS4 or Xbox One compatible wheel right now. However, a new release from Sony has revealed that PS4 peripherals – including racing wheels – will be 100% compatible with the PS5. Annoyingly, Microsoft hasn't revealed any information about compatibility of peripherals on its next-gen console

Check out top pick of the racing wheels on sale here

Scalextric

Scalextric still exists, but it’s not the mess of wires that it used to be – and it won’t produce that exciting ‘eau de transformer’ smell it used to, either. Scalextric can still give you some simple analogue fun, but now packs in some serious tech – giving you everything from brakes that work to the ability to change lanes and even record laptimes.

Dash cams

Dash cams have been growing in popularity over the past decade, and in 2020 it's easy to see why. There are probably more benefits to owning a dash cam than you’ve realised, and they currently represent peace of mind to over a million UK motorists and counting. We’ve picked the cheapest ones here.

Aston Martin racing seat

Unlike other ‘normal’ racing seats, the AMR-C01 uses a lightweight carbonfibre monocoque – just like a high-end supercar. As shown in the pictures, the AMR-C01 actually wraps around the player, and mirrors the same seating position as Aston Martin’s upcoming Valkyrie hypercar. 

It’s been designed by Gaydon too; take a look at the front of the simulator, and you’ll see the same style grille as the Vantage race car. Designers at Gaydon have done their best to make the rear of the racing seat look aggressive.

Only 150 of the AMR-C01 seats are available, and their carbonfibre construction means they’re not cheap; Aston Martin says the hand-built racing seat will start at £57,500 plus tax.

Thrustmaster T.Racing Scuderia Ferrari edition

2020 might not be a season to remember for Ferrari, but fans can still show their support for the red team with this Thrustmaster gaming headset. Featuring sturdy build-quality – perfect for rage-quitting and other bumps – this headset looks very similiar to the one worn by the real Scuderia Ferrari team. Alongside an adjustable microphone, you'll also find a volume knob as it exists on the real thing – as well as a super long cable for those using a PC. It's ideal for those into sim-racing, general gaming, or the occasional Teams or Zoom call. 

Get it here

Klipsch T5 II McLaren Edition

It seems high-end cars and audio equipment go together quite well. This time, Klipsch team up with the McLaren F1 team for these rather smart looking true wireless headphones. Featuring the sound quality you'd expect from Klipsh, these true wirelss buds come with 32 hours charge in total, noise-cancelling tech as well as sweat and water resistance – so they're good for gym or jogging use. The McLaren connection means they're eye-catching too, and wear the McLaren logo as well as a carbonfibre case and papaya orange highlights. 

Get them here

The Mechanists accessories

If you're after something a little different, it's worth checking out the accessories range from The Mechanists. Part car buying-forum, part shop, The Mechanists is a movement for those into automotive culture – both new and old – and it also makes some interesting accessories. 

Alongside prints and hoodies, you can also find a range of handmade bracelets in The Mechanist shop, which feature classic steering or alloy wheels. 

Have a browse here

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast

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