Tsukba Circuit, North of Tokyo, December 2022: The proud 'NHK World Samurai Wheels x Gran Turismo' team fought hard, long and heroically in the Mazda MX-5 Media 4-Hour Endurance Race - to finish in 2nd place (after starting from P2 on the 23-car grid). The star drivers were F1 and Le Mans racing legend/Best Cars of the Year (Best COTY) judge Ukyo Katayama; fellow senior Best COTY judge, Peter Lyon (both pictured together here); plus former Gran Turismo national champion Kazuki Yamada.
Toyota has taken the ho-hum Corolla, dropped it onto a rally-bred platform, injected a 300 hp powertrain and 4WD, and launched the brand-redefining GR Corolla. Packing a tweaked version of the 1.6-litre, 3-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine and 6-speed manual from the GR Yaris, the GR Corolla promises performance and handling that will rival the Subaru WRX STI, Golf R and Mercedes AMG A45, Ford Focus RS and even Mitsubishi’s discontinued Evo. Priced at just under $40,000 in the U.S., the GR Corolla will jump from 0-60 mph in under 5 seconds.
Motor journalist and racing driver Shinichi Katsura cut his teeth in journalism during the 1980s editing Option magazine before realising a dream to race in Japan’s Super Endurance Series in the early '90s. His series winning performance in '92 and '93 in a Nissan Skyline GT-R would eventually see him secure a seat for Aston Martin in 2008 where he co-piloted works cars in the Nurburgring 24 Hours with the likes of Aston CEO Ulrich Bez, winning his class twice. Shinichi writes new car reports for Car Graphic and Car Top, and comments on radio.
The Toyota Crown is one of Japan’s oldest and most respected nameplates, but outside Japan, hardly anyone knows of it. That’s all about to change with the introduction of the 16th generation model that will be sold in the U.S. and Europe. Packaged in a surprisingly sporty, very un-Toyota-like, fastback 4-door body, the new Crown will be offered with two conventional hybrid powertrains; a 231-hp 2.5-liter hybrid and the 344-hp flagship 2.4-liter turbo hybrid setup that’s mated to a CVT. It also gets four-wheel-steer, four-wheel-drive and a hi-tech cabin.
Part of Nissan’s sometimes confusing official sales pitch for the modest but complicated petrol/electric X-Trail says “it’s muscular and modern, has e-POWER and a full electrified model line up.” But remember - this is NOT a pure-electric car. Meanwhile, the less than official word (from TG) is “the engine’s a little donkey that charges the battery, while the wheels are driven by an electric motor.” Although it didn’t unveil this all-new X-Trail until September 2022, Nissan somewhat optimistically insists that deliveries are set to begin a few weeks later in October. Prices start at a tad over £/euro 30,000 and peak at around 45k.
At first glance, the Grecale’s starting price of just over US $60,000 (less than UK £60,000), looks attractive. But the problem for the small to medium-sized Italian five-door is that its similarly proportioned Porsche Macan rival can be acquired for nearer 50k! Also, Maseratis tend not to enjoy the same levels of quality, reliability and durability as Porsches. That said, the Grecale is a handsome and intriguing all-new ICE-powered SUV. And Maserati has to be acknowledged for what it is - a genuine, long established luxury brand. Therefore, Grecale comfortably qualifies as a 2022/23 Best Cars of the Year contender.
Over a 37-year career, car designer Fabio Filippini has penned numerous production and concept cars in addition to designing interiors for the Volkswagen Audi Group. The Italian also worked on the Clio, Zoe, Captur, Twingo III and Espace for Renault. From 2011 to 2017, he was Design Director at Pininfarina where his team won awards for concepts such as the Cambiano and Sergio. Since 2018, Fabio has worked in Tokyo as an independent car designer and design strategy advisor while serving as a judge at Pebble Beach and Salon Privé. He published his brilliantly illustrated essay Curve in 2021.
Low to mid-range Audis, BMWs and Mercs are now sold in such huge numbers that they’re in danger of becoming too common in some parts of the western world. That’s why Citroen and a handful of other non-premium firms are offering rarer, less obvious, lower-priced alternatives that look as good…if not better. Proving the point is the luxurious, pretty, comfortable, capable and competitive C5 X saloon. Unbelievably, the base version is in the same price league as a smaller, bog-standard, less versatile VW Golf. Citroen invites discerning drivers to take a close look at the CX 5. It's a genuine contender.
Paul Swift has been setting world records on motorised two and four-wheeled machines since he was seven years old. He’s one of the best-known and most talented precision drivers on the planet. And his stunt driving antics have featured in countless television programmes, movies, car company product launches, TV ads and live arena events - including the 2022 British Motor Show where he acquired four additional Guinness World Records (in addition to those he already had). Via his stunt driving masterclasses, ‘Swifty’ passes on his unrivalled driver skills and new car knowledge to members of the public. www.paulswift.com
Proudly making its official world debut at The British Motor Show 2022, the boxy INDe EV is more significant than it might seem. At first glance, it merely looks like a van - and that's precisely what this first rendition of the vehicle is. But other body styles - including a chunky, brutally handsome passenger car plus a workhorse pick-up truck - are already at the design stage. The company is based in Hailsham, England and is progressing at an impressive pace thanks in part to assistance from the nearby University of Brighton. The first “competitively priced” INDe EVs are scheduled to be built in 2023 - with a claimed range of 230 miles.
For years, VW fans have patiently waited for the all-electric ID.Buzz to arrive in the showrooms. As they continue to wait, the Multivan 1.4 TSI eHybrid is proving to be a more than adequate stopgap vehicle - not least because it can’t decide whether it’s a car, bus, mini-motorhome, mobile office or light commercial. It has a 1.4 TSI petrol engine mated to a modest 13kWH battery. But, more importantly, Multivan is a spacious, classy, solidly-built, durable, proper multi-purpose vehicle. At the 2022 British Motor Show it attracted much attention from potential buyers, young and old.
It’s not the most dramatic-looking exhibit in the Best Cars of the Year Garage at The Brit Motor Show. But the Genesis GV60 is attracting far more attention than most of its rivals as it's seen in the flesh for the first time by the motoring masses in Britain. They seemed genuinely surprised by its quality feel, finish and subtle, understated design. Genesis is more exclusive and upmarket than its sister brands, Hyundai and Kia. Clearly, it’s a proper premium marque - in the same league as Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Lexus. The Genesis GV60 starts at £47,000 (UK).
The two main days of The British Motor Show are Saturday, Aug 20 & Sunday, Aug 21. The largest and most eclectic mix of all-new vehicles at the exhibition can be found on the twelve-car Best Cars of the Year stand. We’re giving several of these state-of-the-art models their national or international motor show debuts - plus the opportunity to win the coveted title of Best COTY World Champion 2022/23. Also gracing the stand are the ‘21/22 joint winners - Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 - plus the quirkiest contender from last year's competition, the Citroen Ami which has just started to hit the showrooms.
The final touches are being put to the giant Farnborough International Exhibition and Conference Centre, prior to the opening of The British Motor Show on Thursday. The Best Cars of the Year exhibit (in the Elmo/Tech Theatre Hall) is one of the main attractions at the annual event - not least because we’ll have an impressive line up of past and potential future New Car World Champions on the stand (No. 2670). The retail prices of these state-of-the-art models range from around £10,000 to almost £100,000. The British Motor Show runs from August 18 - 21, 2022. www.thebritishmotorshow.live
James – or Batch as he’s known – is a freelance motoring journalist and presenter. He started his career in B2B motoring journalism as Staff Writer on Car Dealer magazine, and rose to become the Editor. He joined Britain's best-selling weekly car news title, Auto Express, in 2014 as News Editor, latterly becoming Editor-at-Large and Head of Video. He also became a familiar face on Auto Express's sister title Carbuyer, fronting its hugely popular YouTube channel for a number of years. He's now freelance and contributes to a number of national titles, and has his own YouTube channel - batchreviews.
Boasting stylish retro looks inspired by the original 240Z of 1969 and 300ZX of the late ‘80s, the all-new Nissan Z employs a 400-hp twin-turbo V6, 6-speed manual transmission, superb handling and a price that shames the Toyota Supra. Starting at just $40,000 in the US for the base spec Z, purists will enjoy the heel and toe action and its pitch perfect rev-matching system. Incorporating a totally revamped interior, which may be a little tight for larger drivers, the Z is one of the very best affordable sports cars on sale right now, delivering power, performance and poise.
The Chinese car maker with British roots reckons it has embarked on a bold new direction with the MG4 EV. Initially, it’s available with battery capabilities from 51kWh to 64kWh, resulting in a range of between 218 and 281 miles, the firm claims. Significantly, this is more of a car for driving enthusiasts than recent MGs. Intriguingly, as the company prepares to see customers in Britain and elsewhere take delivery of their MG4 EVs in late summer 2022 it is talking about future “battery swap systems.” The new 4 starts at just £25,995 - about the same as a bog-standard VW Golf ICE.
Oxford, England: At the Newspress Awards 2022 - the ‘Oscars’ of the automotive journalism & broadcasting world - several members of the Best Cars of the Year (Best COTY) judging panel enjoyed success. Shortlisted for the Automotive Video prize was Shahzad Sheikh. Media & motor industry veteran Tom Johnston was nominated for two prestigious awards - Automotive News Journalist & Commercial Vehicle Writer. Steve Fowler of Auto Express saw the magazine he edits take the Automotive Consumer Publication gong. And Mike Rutherford, one of the founding fathers of Auto Express in '88 & still its Chief Columnist, was presented with the Newspress Lifetime Achievement Award.
They don’t yet know what its showroom price will be or what, exactly, it will be powered by. But consumers in America are in the unusual position of being invited to put down $1,000 refundable deposits on the all-new G90 from South Korean firm, Genesis. This despite the fact that the luxury model's spec is a mystery. As is its official sticker price! But expect the flagship sedan that boasts “athletic elegance” to weigh in at around $90,000 - and be handed over to so-called Priority One customers by upmarket concierge staff rather than mere sales men or women. If BMW and Mercedes aren’t worried by the imminent arrival of the Genesis G90, they should be because the Koreans mean business.
Co-developed by Toyota and Subaru, the bZ4X is Toyota’s first-ever, purpose-built, pure electric vehicle. Depending on the model chosen the claimed maximum range is 317 miles. Ignoring the silly name and its late arrival to the EV party, this stylish SUV comes in either front-wheel or 4WD versions powered by a 65.6kWh battery. Boasting a startling new interior and handling that’s nicer than a Volkswagen ID.4 or Tesla Model Y, the bZ4X’s focus on practicality and comfort makes the whole package feel more like an electric Toyota and less like an EV with a Toyota badge. It starts at $42,000 (US), £43,780 in the UK where a ten year warranty is offered, but with strict terms and conditions.
One of the most famous faces on car TV programmes across the world is Tim Shaw (seen here with Fuzz Townshend who's on the left). They present the National Geographic Channel's Car SOS which has a global audience of over 100 million. Tim has been on-board as a Best Cars of the Year judge from day one and is more than qualified for the job thanks to a strong engineering background plus his appreciation of and genuine enthusiasm for all vehicles - including factory fresh, just-launched models. Truth is, Tim's an addicted car nut...who really knows his automotive stuff. He'll be meeting guests, busily judging and appearing onstage at The British Motor Show, August 18-21, 2022.
Ford’s Bronco has the name, reputation, looks, credibility and off-road ability. But it’s also blessed with an equally important factor - a tempting starting price of just $31,300 in the USA. That said, the buyer of a top-end Bronco Raptor in America wont get much change out of $70k. It’s unclear what the price range will be in Europe from 2023 - or which European countries will officially receive Broncos in their showrooms. If yours doesn’t, you may wish to investigate the possibility of taking a holiday to Florida or California, buying a low or lower medium-spec version for say, $30k to $50k - before driving or shipping the vehicle back home as a personal import!
MG is one of Britain’s best known car marques. But it’s British no more. China owns/runs/builds MG these days. And the Chinese are doing a good job of bringing the brand back from the dead and returning it to the world’s automotive stage. The company has just launched a “new” version of its MG5 EV estate - with prices starting at £31,000 (UK) which is comparatively cheap for a proper, mid-sized - around 4.6m long - all-electric family car. Think of it as an EV for about the same price as a rival petrol or diesel model of similar dimensions. It doesn’t look bad. But quality isn’t great. And although a potential range of 249 miles has been mentioned, we’d be surprised if it will travel that far on just one charge.
VW has finally opened the order books for its five-seat, pure-electric ID. Buzz, priced at £57k-£63k. Ouch! The 77kWh battery in all variants helps deliver a range of 258 miles, claims the company. Officially, it’s described as “the first fully-electric vehicle from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.” Unofficially, the distinctive-looking ID. Buzz with obvious retro touches can’t really decide whether it’s a car, bus, van, mobile office, emergency motorhome, beach hut on wheels or light duty delivery truck. Arguably, it’s all seven. And If that’s the case when being used in everyday, real-world conditions, maybe its circa £60k price tag is more reasonable than it seems at first glance. Also, it should hold its value well.
Ukyo Katayama is a Formula 1 driver turned journalist and TV presenter. After winning the Japanese Formula 3000 Championship he competed in 97 races for the Larrousse, Tyrrell and Minardi F1 teams. He tackled the 24 Hours of Le Mans six times - with a best finish of 2nd in class. He’s a Dakar Rally veteran and, as the principal of Team UKYO, he won the GT300 class of Japan’s Super GT on three occasions. When he’s not writing or broadcasting about road and race cars, Ukyo is an avid mountain climber who’s bravely climbed six of the world’s seven summits.
Nissan Ariya’s futuristic, edgy coupe-SUV styling, premium feel and eye-opening tech help it stand out in a sea of electric crossovers flooding the market. Available with a front-drive 63kWh battery (claimed range 250 miles) or an 87kWh option with a 388 hp dual-motor 4WD e-4ORCE powertrain (up to 329 miles), its on-paper performance stacks up well. Ariya has two 12.3-inch touchscreens, loads of electrickery and Alexa integration. Price (UK): £43,845-£56,290. It has just been named Auto Express COTY. Time will tell if the Nissan is also voted Best COTY World Champ 2022/23.
Kia's EV6 is the sister car to Hyundai’s Ioniq 5. Both EVs boast great exterior designs and superb build quality. They're the most credible mainstream family hatchbacks ever built by the Hyundai-Kia-Genesis empire. EV6 and Ioniq 5 were named Best Cars of the Year Joint World Champs after a dead heat in the official judging process. The Kia costs £44,195-£56,095 (UK). Theoretical maximum range is 300-328 miles. Yet despite its heftier price it doesn’t look as distinctive unique or classy as the Ioniq 5 which also has a superior interior. Kia's constant price hikes are worrying.
Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 was one of the most popular exhibits on the Best Cars of the Year stand at The British Motor Show in 2021. The radically different exterior and class-leading cabin give the pure-electric family hatchback a premium look and feel. It could, should and deserves to be a tad more exciting to drive. That said, it’s the finest sub-£40k EV around. Mid-2021 prices (UK): £39,400-£52,900. Claimed EV range: 238-315 miles. Our hard-to-impress judges had no hesitation in declaring it Joint World Champion 21/22. Ioniq 5 KO’d the international opposition.