A road-testing year in numbers: CAR’s cars in 2015

Published: 28 December 2015

A year’s road testing in numbers
► CAR tested hundreds of cars in 2015
► Which was fastest, slowest, cheapest?

CAR magazine’s road test diary is a broad church. City cars and hypercars, priceless classics and thinly veiled racing cars, all made an appearance in CAR’s pages in 2015. To give an idea of the sheer scope of the 280 or so cars that came through the doors over the past 12 issues, here’s a look back at the road test year in numbers – fastest/slowest, priciest/cheapest, heaviest/lightest – and a few surprise entries.

So, without further ado:

Most physics-bending acceleration: 2.5 seconds to 62mph

Ariel Atom 3.5R, photographed for CAR by John Wycherley

Perhaps it’s a sign of just how absurdly fast cars are becoming that more than a few machines CAR tested in 2015 were claimed to be capable of dipping under the three-second marker from 0-62mph. Lamborghini’s Aventador SV, McLaren’s 675 LT and Tesla’s ‘ludicrous’ P90D to name a few, but fastest of all was Ariel’s madcap Atom 3.5R (above), which not only looks like a rocketsled but goes like one, blasting to 62mph in 2.5sec.

Honourable mentions also to the Frontline MGB Abingdon Edition at 3.8sec (not bad for an old-timer) and the Range Rover Sport SVR at 4.7sec – not bad for a car that weighs 2.3 tonnes.

The Atom 3.5R starred against the Radical RXC Turbo and Caterham 620R in CAR’s September issue ‘Mad Car Disease’ track stars feature – read it in full on CAR+ here.

And the most glacial 0-62mph time: 16.9sec

Smart ForFour

Mercedes’ posh Twingo, the Smart ForFour was the tardiest new car we drove, grudgingly making its way from 0 to 62mph in 16.9sec.

Still, spare a thought for the Series I Land Rover we drove back to back with a last-of-the-line Defender in September. With a top speed of 59mph, 0-60’s off the agenda…

The biggest headache for our insurers: £15 million

With an estimated value of £15m, 1930 Blower Bentley was the most valuable car we drove in 2015

Also as part of CAR’s September issue #BritCarBucketList extravaganza, Gavin Green took a 1930 41/2-litre supercharged ‘Blower’ Bentley for a spin. Specifically, the same car that Sir Tim Birkin took to second place in the 1930 French Grand Prix. Its estimated value? A cool £15 million. A bit unnerving when the accelerator pedal’s positioned where the brake would normally be…

Read Gavin’s drive on CAR+ here.

Most expensive new car we tested: £1.8 million

Leaving the odd priceless classic and one-off concept aside, the priciest new car CAR got its mitts on in 2015 was McLaren’s £1.98m track-only P1 GTR, driven by Martin Brundle for the magazine in September. Watch Brundle on track in the P1 on video above.

And the cheapest: £69.99

Lego Ferrari F40 kit was technically the cheapest new car tested in 2015

Going from 0 to fully built in around five hours, Lego’s 1158-piece Ferrari F40 kit has the strongest claim for cheapest test car of the year. The runner-up £7999 Suzuki Celerio’s a tad roomier, though…

Number of hydrogen-powered cars we drove: four

Toyota Mirai

And three of them are going on sale to the public. 2015 was the year that the possibility of buying a hydrogen fuel cell production car became a reality, with the Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell and Toyota Mirai reaching the market before the year’s end and Honda’s Clarity scheduled for launch later in 2016. Right at the start of the year, CAR also drove the smooth, near-silent Audi A7 h-tron concept in gridlocked LA. Now all they need are some filling stations.

Most featherweight contender of 2015: 490kg

Caterham Seven 160

Leaving the Lego F40 aside for a moment, our 490kg Caterham Seven 160 long-termer was the lightest vehicle through CAR’s doors in 2015. Impressively, the Ariel Atom 3.5R packed an extra 1338cc and another cylinder but weighed only 30kg more.

And the lardiest: 2685kg

Bentley Mulsanne Speed

Upholding those ‘fastest lorry in the world’ family values to the nth degree, at 2685kg Bentley’s excess-all-areas Mulsanne Speed was the heaviest car we tested this year. Not even the new Bentley Bentayga 4×4 is quite as weighty, at 2422kg in base spec.

Number of cars to come with their own sofa: one

Ford Vignale lounge

Ford dusted off the Vignale coachbuilder’s name for a new luxury Mondeo trim level, with lashings of extra leather, chrome and lacquer – and its own ‘lounge’ in dealerships, a screened-off sofa just for Vignale customers. Lucky them. Read CAR’s Ford Mondeo Vignale review here.

Number of our cars that got stolen: one

CAR's VW Golf R attracted the wrong kind of attention in 2015

‘Nicked by scumbags. Recovered by Twitter’ – so read the headline for our VW Golf R long-termer’s Month 3 update this year, after some hot hatch-loving hoods took off with the keys. Read the full story here.

Sports Car Giant Test 2015: eight cars, 64 cylinders, 4493bhp

Sports Car Giant Test 2015: 64 cylinders, 4493bhp

CAR’s annual Sports Car Giant Test is always spectacular but 2015 was just a little bit extra-special. Eight of the world’s greatest driver’s cars, from the £64k Porsche Cayman GT4 to the £320k Lamborghini Aventador SV, on north Wales’ greatest roads. How on earth did we pick a winner? Read the test in full on CAR+ to find out.

And the most popular car of all: 124,457 sales

Ford Fiesta, photographed by Richard Pardon

The Ford Fiesta has become a sales phenomenon in the UK. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), Ford shifted a whopping 124,457 Fiestas in the first 11 months of 2015, nearly 40,000 sales ahead of its nearest rival, the Vauxhall Corsa. CAR pitted the Fiesta against its key rivals in a May issue group test; interestingly, although we still love the way it drives, it didn’t win…

Click here for the 10 things we didn’t think we’d see in 2015.

The year’s best photographs by CAR magazine.

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, occasional racer