Gavin Green’s review of 2011, the motoring year

Published: 23 December 2011

Best concept

The Alfa 4C. Light, gorgeous, fast, economical. Exactly what Lotus should be doing rather than previewing bloated V8s.

Best new supercar

The McLaren MP4-12C. May lose out to the Ferrari 458 in seat-of-the-pants excitement but a technological titan. Brilliant mix of speed, comfort and refinement.

Most exciting new car

The Lamborghini Aventador. A good old-fashioned Lamborghini reworked for the 21st century: V12 power meets space-age style.

Best small car concept

The BMW i3. The cleverest battery-powered electric car I have seen. My guess is it will also be the first battery EV to be commercially successful, when sales start in 2013.

Most improved maker

Hyundai. It now has a range of good new cars, from i10 up. The new i40 is as desirable as the vast majority of same-size European or Japanese cars for less money (and with a better warranty). The sales boss of Ford told me he now fears the Koreans more than the Japanese.

Most disappointing maker

Honda. Once so brilliant, poor Honda has lost its mojo. Honda’s boss told me, at the Frankfurt show, that they know it and they’ll be back. I believe him.

Man of the year

Ron Dennis. For launching Britain’s Ferrari.

Worst new car of 2011

The Aston Martin Cygnet. An appalling prostitution of a proud name. Buy a Toyota iQ and save £20,000.

Trend of the year

Astonishing improvements in fuel economy yet with improved performance. News of the petrol and diesel engines’ deaths are greatly exaggerated.

PR trend of year

Despite the above, car bosses stopped talking about ‘sustainability’ or ‘eco-friendly’ cars at their press conferences (the two PR buzzwords of the past decade). ‘Greenness’ has slipped down the publicity agenda. There are apparently now more important issues than saving the world.

Sales flop of the year

All electric cars. Despite – or maybe because of? – their enthusiastic endorsements from politicians (and associated juicy taxpayer-funded rebates), EV sales have been pathetic. In UK, they are running at less than a quarter expected levels - with just 1055 sold in the first 11 months of the year. It’s the same story in Germany. In America, the much-hyped Chevrolet Volt has been a flop.

The car I most wanted to get in and drive away from a motor show plinth

The Audi Urban Concept. Auto Union 30s GP-style meets lightweight agility. Georg Kacher says they’re going to build it. I say ‘hurrah!’

By Gavin Green

Contributor-in-chief, former editor, anti-weight campaigner, voice of experience