CAR’s review of 2009: the magazine’s year

Published: 27 December 2009

So, you missed a few issues of CAR Magazine in 2009? Here’s our guide to CAR Magazine’s year, as seen through each issue. Click on the thumbnail covers below for a full digital sampler of each issue.

January 2009

Our preview of 2009’s key cars featured 64 new models, with exclusive pictures or drives of hosts of cars, including Nissan 370Z, Porsche Cayman, Tata Nano, Alfa Mito, Hyundai Genesis, Honda Insight, Golf Mk6 (and GTI), Porsche Panamera, Citroen C3 Picasso, Renault Laguna Coupe, Gallardo Spyder and many more. You’re familiar with them all now, but here’s where you saw them first.

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February 2009

We drove the Corvette ZR-1 to Cape Canaveral to witness the last-ever night launch of the Space Shuttle and relive the glory years when astronauts and ‘Vettes were inseparable. We helped build Volvo’s S60 show car,  named the Nissan GT-R our car of the year, drove the new Boxster, crossed India in a locally built Audi A4, drove the Toyota iQ for the first time and went backstage at the Macau WTC race.

Click here for the February CAR desktop wallpapers


March 2009

With the credit crunch biting, we featured 52 dream cars you could buy for silly money, were first to ride in the Focus RS, drove to Monte Carlo in Fiat’s 500 Abarth, ran an exclusive interview with Dave Richards in which he revealed his plan to return to F1 (we’re still waiting!), tested Audi’s new Q5 against BMW, Merc and Volvo, rode on the Dakar Rally, had a world first drive in Honda’s Insight and the electric Mini and tested all the new Infinitis against their BMW rivals.

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April 2009

Jaguar’s XFR was driven for the first time, and CAR was the only mag to get it head-to-head with an M5 and an RS6. It was our big hot hatch issue – and first issue of our redesign – in which we pitted Renault’s Megane R26R against the Focus RS, and convened the greatest hot hatches of all time for a Silverstone shoot-out and a reader poll to name your overall greatest. We took the Audi R8 V10 on a drive to Europe’s highest road, exclusively revealed Audi’s A1, tracked down radio-controlled model car god Shunsaku Tamiya at the world’s biggest toy fair, drove the C3 Picasso, revealed the Rolls Ghost and went undercover with BMW’s F1 team.

Click here for the April CAR desktop wallpapers 


May 2009

This was the month when CAR drove the new VW Golf GTI and went testing in Porsche’s Panamera in South Africa. We were first in the world to drive three key BMWs: X5M, X6M and X1, first to group test the new E-class Merc, and first to reveal Ford’s Focus-hinting MPV concept. We thrashed 911 GT2 with SL65 Black in Wales, drove the UK’s underdog Viper race car, brow-beat BMW’s new design boss and exclusively interviewed Fernando Alonso, who told us he wanted to drive  for Ferrari. (Right again!)

Click here for the May CAR desktop wallpapers


June 2009

World exclusive first drive in the Lamborghini Murcielago SV kick-started our 20-page Lambo special, featuring an exclusive shoot of the foor-door Estoque. We drove the new BMW Z4 for the first time, and put it up against four rivals, we revealed Porsche’s £25k baby Boxster, exclusively drove the E-class coupe, quizzed Bangle at the unveiling of the 5-series GT, drove the Tata Nano at last, spent a day with the eccentric family who own Bruntingthorpe, drove the Florida Keys in the last great Cadillac, put the C3 Picasso through a giant test and had a ball at the Daytona 500.

Click here for the June CAR desktop wallpapers


July 2009

We pitched into the war of words between Porsche and Nissan over who’s quickest round the Nurburgring, by turning up with a new 911 GT3 as Nissan were preparing to break their own record with a GT-R V-spec: cue 26 pages of Ring drama. July was also the month when we first drove the Lotus Evora, pitching it up against 911 and M3, plus we gave you everything from Infiniti’s gob-smackingly beautiful Essence GT car to a drive across Hungary in the new Lexus RX450h, via our strangest exclusive yet: a drive of the real-life Wacky Racers, recreated for the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

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August 2009

Not one but FOUR 200mph roadsters starred on our August cover – we drove the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport,  Ferrari F430 Scuderia Spider, Aston Martin DBS Volante and Stirling Moss Mercedes-McLaren SLR. We also had the world’s first drive of the Porsche Panamera, an RS Focus hot-hatch shoot-out at the Nurburgring, a 911 drive through China, the first drive of Audi’s TT RS and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Lewis Hamilton’s Scalextric TV ad.

Click here for the August CAR desktop wallpapers


September 2009

Jaguar’s new XJ was the star in September, along with our exclusive insight into Jaguar’s future models, including the awesome XE Coupe. We lapped the track with Yvan Muller in a Seat Ibiza Bocanegra, delivered the world’s first Panamera group test, spent the night (alone – yikes!) locked in the Porsche museum,  drove the new Toyota Prius, Vauxhall’s new Astra, the new Range Rover and the VW Bluesport roadster, pitted an original Quattro against its S4 counterpart, revealed Aston’s hair-brained Cygnet concept and conducted an electric Giant Test.

Click here for the September CAR desktop wallpapers


October 2009

Our ‘Japan’s new superheroes’ issue exclusively starred the Mugen Honda Civic and Lexus LFA, backed up by a reunion of the greatest Japanese performance cars of the last 20 years. We drove Citroen’s madcap GT concept,  went undercover inside AMG’s skunkworks HQ, drove a Range Rover Sport from Biarritz to Barcelona, revealed the Ferrari 458 for the first time and tested Vauxhall’s hot Insignia. All this, plus a 40-page Supercar A-Z, starring a world exclusive drive in the Mercedes SLS, Alfa 8C Spider, Lamborghini Balboni and a big Italian drive in the Veyron Grand Sport.

Click here for the October CAR desktop wallpapers


November 2009

We were the first to showcase BMW’s amazing Efficient Dynamics concept car, which starred on the cover of our November issue alongside the Golf R (another exclusive), McLaren’s new supercar and a 33-page ‘Mini @ 50’ celebration, which itself featured exclusive pictures of three Mini concepts and Gavin Green’s epic 4000-mile drive across Australia in a Mini! We also broke the news that BMW is to build a front-drive, Mini-based small car, drove the 5-series GT for the first time, revealed the new Focus C-Max and tested the new Discovery, Mazda 3 MPS and Vauxhall Ampera.

Click here for the November CAR desktop wallpapers


Performance Car of the Year 2009

Our Performance Car of the Year issue featured a 30-car shoot-out on road and track, with five separate groups tested over 44 pages. Among the finalists were a Renault, a Lotus, a Merc, a VW and a Lamborghini – but there was just one winner. We also revealed the two extremes of the VW empire, via the new Bugatti Galibier and the 205mpg VW L1 concept, drove the new Astra on an emotional journey back to Ellesmere Port, tested the Bentley Continental Supersports, revealed Honda’s future concepts and Audi’s electric R8 and were granted a rare glimpse inside the archaic service centre of Bristol Cars.

Click here for the Performance Car of the Year desktop wallpapers

December 2009

All the exciting cars of 2010 were revealed in our December issue – 51 great new models featured, starting with the first drive of the Ferrari 458 Italia and including the new Jag XJ on the road for the first time, Mercedes SLS in its first group test against a 911 Turbo and Nissan GT-R, first ride in the new baby Rolls, a US adventure in Nissan’s 370Z Roadster, drives of the Scirocco R and Renaultsport Megane 250 and the first details of the new 5-series and new Focus. Plus, we launched Green Car – a 32-page magazine within a magazine, showcasing new technologies, and starring the world’s first drive of the electric Audi R8, a drive in all Renault’s new electric concepts and an exclusive shoot of the Lexus LF-Ch – the first hybrid-only premium compact.

Click here for the December CAR desktop wallpapers 



>> So, you missed a few issues of CAR magazine in 2009? Hopefully, you won’t make the same mistake in 2010. To order a subscription, visit

By Greg Fountain

CAR's former managing editor, editor, caption chiseller, noticer of ironies