Best new cars 2014

We take a look back at the best new cars we drove in 2014

Some incredible new cars were released in 2014, with something for almost everyone. There was the arrival of the all-new Vauxhall Corsa, which is a great choice for young drivers, all the way up to the Mercedes-AMG GT, a brand-new supercar that experienced motorists will love.

In between, there were the Ford Mondeo and Nissan Qashqai, both great for families, and a new version of a very practical supermini - the Skoda Fabia.

Read on below to see our thoughts on some of the biggest and best new models that went on sale in 2014, in chronological order.

The best new cars we drove in 2014

Cool 296bhp VW Golf R shows us its skills on the ice

The first time we got behind the wheel of Volkswagen’s new mega hot hatch was not on tarmac – but on snow. It took a frozen lake in Arvidsjaur, Sweden, for the VW Golf R to really show its stripes, and it certainly delivered.

With a reworked version of the GTI’s 2.0 TSI engine, producing 296bhp and 380Nm of torque, the R is thefastest and most powerful production Golf ever. The frozen lake showed off the R’s new party trick, and a first for any VW – ESC which you can switch off completely.

Crisp steering, instant throttle response and bags of power channelled through all four wheels made us conclude that the R is VW’s most complete hot hatch.

Jaguar delivers with F-Type Coupe

Jaguar did what we hoped it would do early this year – and created a coupé version of the stunning F-Type. We got behind the wheel of the Jaguar F-Type Coupe in January and fell in love with the stunning looks, added practicality, and the exhilarating noise from the supercharged 5.0-litre V8.

Mercedes GLA moves game on from A-Class

Mercedes claimed its new GLA was a credible crossover when we got behind the wheel. Yet while the newcomer is a better car than the A-Class on which it’s based, it’s not exactly the SUV Mercedes claims it is. However, we did like the added practicality and comfort over and above the A-Class.

Porsche Macan pips Evoque as the finest SUV to drive

Porsche's development of a smaller Cayenne has been one of the motor industry’s worst-kept secrets in the past few years, and the company’s baby SUV finally arrived in 2014. Badged as the Porsche Macan, its small dimensions immediately led us to put it up against the then class champ – the Range Rover Evoque – for a shoot-out in February.

We found that, as with the Cayenne and Panamera, Porsche has taken a model that shouldn’t work as a sports car and turned it into something genuinely fun and hugely capable.

We came to the conclusion that the Macan is now the driver’s choice in the class, yet it doesn’t come at the expense of comfort or refinement. However, if style is your priority, the Evoque continues to lead the way.

Plug-in Mitsubishi Outlander proves a major hit

We got behind the wheel of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV – the UK’s first plug-in hybrid SUV – in February, and have been impressed ever since.

Later in 2014, we even ran one on our fleet. No other SUV can match its running costs, and it feels a well resolved car, too. Refinement is excellent, and space and economy are class-leading. The ride is a bit unsettled and the handling not particularly sharp, but Mitsubishi deserves praise for its brave approach.

McLaren 650S supercar and Mclaren P1 hypercar

We got behind the wheel of the McLaren P1 hybrid hypercar in March, and were blown away by the mind-boggling levels of grip, power and performance.

We reported the P1 as having “the agility and driveability usually missing from hypercars”. The £866,000 McLaren does 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds.

McLaren combined the 12C and P1 to create the 650S – a car aimed at making the 12C louder, faster and more controllable when you’re at the limit, and more comfortable when you’re not.

When we reviewed it we said it strikes a perfect balance between the usability of a Porsche 911 and the fun of a Ferrari.

Kia gets it right this time on Soul

A big seller in the US, the Kia Soul never quite took off here, with its boxy styling and rattly diesel engines holding it back.

But with revised looks and updated underpinnings, the latest car impressed when we drove it. We concluded the new car was “an improvement over its predecessor in every way”.

Ultra gives A6 a new lease of life

The Ultra badge is now a common sight on a host of Audis, but it was only in April that the first car – the A6 Ultra – went on sale in the UK.

We reported how the overhaul had transformed the A6, with the slick gearbox and uprated engine making it “one of the most refined and efficient executive cars” on sale.

We plug into BMW i8’s supercar revolution

Only a month after we’d driven the McLaren P1, we were whisked away to California for a go in the new BMW i8. The flagship hybrid was quite simply a game changer, with supercar-rivalling performance and city car-crushing fuel economy.

The 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol turbo works harmoniously with two electric motors to produce 357bhp – enough to rocket the i8 from 0-62mph in just 4.4 seconds.

The plug-in tech ensures an all-electric range of 22 miles at speeds of up to 75mph, while if you charge regularly and only occasionally make use of the petrol engine, you’ll return more than 135mpg. Plus, BMW packed enough innovation into the i8 – including technological firsts such as laser headlights – to ensure that it’ll still be relevant 10 years from now, while the £100,000 price tag made it look a bargain next to hybrid hypercars, such as the Porsche 918.

We gave the i8 five stars on our first drive, and our love for it hasn’t abated.

Jeep Cherokee can’t match SUV rivals

WE didn’t let the unique face of the new Jeep Cherokee get in the way of an objective first drive when we took the wheel of the SUV back in April.

However, while it had its merits, we found it off the pace in a tough and hard-fought class. Nissan’s capable Qashqai proved a much more rounded crossover.

New X-Trail heads down family route

Nissan adopted a more family-friendly image for its latest X-Trail. And on driving it, we said: “It’s not as rugged as the car it replaces, but the 4WD models tackle light off-roading.”

Having only one engine on offer might deter buyers, but we found it gave decent performance with strong fuel economy.

Turbocharged M3 and M4 prove five-star hits

Few cars in 2014 were as highly anticipated as the new BMW M3. For the first time in its history, the saloon is turbocharged, with a 3.0-litre six-cylinder twin-turbo. An M4 coupé was also introduced alongside it.

Despite the smaller engine, this M3 is more powerful than the previous naturally aspirated 4.0-litre V8 model. Add in the 80kg weight reduction and it’s notably faster, too. “The way the front end grips, it feels like this car will never understeer,” we reported. “The ride never feels too firm, and comfort levels are not too far removed from a standard 3 Series.” Both the M3 and M4 were awarded a full five stars, with each praised for the way they could switch from compliant luxury cruiser to tyre-shredding sports car.

We concluded: “It’s blisteringly fast and more flexible than ever, with the only downside being it doesn’t quite sound as nice as the old V8.”

Huracan makes storming entrance

There was a lot of pressure on the new Lamborghini Huracan to deliver, considering how successful its Gallardo predecessor had been. So is it a worthy successor? “Find a suitable straight, extend your right foot and the Huracán bolts forward with alarming urgency,” our man Jack Rix said.

We reported how linear power delivery and rapid gearshifts from the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission gave it classic supercar characteristics, but it lacked the character of a Ferrari 458 and lunacy of the McLaren 650S. It’s still a car worthy of the famous badge, though.

Click through to page two to see the rest of 2014's best cars...

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