The future is now for car technology.
Whether it's vehicles so packed with sensors and processing power that they can all but drive themselves, rides you can re-fuel from a wall socket or jalopies so loaded with connectivity that their insides make a footballer's living room look like a medieval serf's hovel, cars are evolving at an incredible rate.
That said, it is a supercharged British sports car that takes (some) inspiration from a past classic that secured our award: step forward, the Jaguar F-Type.
Winner: Jaguar F-Type (from £58,520)
The F-Type is a big launch for Jaguar. The media were lined up to snort at it; to throw polaroids of Porsche Boxsters at it and walk away.
But with an attitude that properly befits the snarling bonnet badge, it would have spat those pictures straight back at them. And roared off into the night, leaving bemused journos to wonder (a) who’s driving it and (b) was that a supercharger whine they heard? At which point it’d do a high-speed flypast in order to (a) cover those media monkeys in gravel and (b) confirm that, yes, that was a supercharger.
Runner-up: Mercedes S-Class (from £62,650)
Geeks in supercars? Doesn’t work. Can you imagine Bill Gates in a Ferrari in one of his Christmassy jumpers? Of course you can, and a striking image it is too, but it would make more sense to put him in an S-Class?
The list of nerdy delights is almost endless: two 12.3in LCD screens for the driver; a camera that scans the road for bumps and adjusts the suspension; Collision Prevention Assist, Crosswind Assist, Attention Assist, Lane Keep Assist, Steer Assist… you get the idea. And from next year, there’ll be a plug-in version with 90+mpg and 71g of CO2 emissions. Free road tax on an S-Class? Yes, please.
Runner-up: Renault Zoe (from £13,995 + £70/month)
The only thing stopping any of us saving the planet is cost. (Ironic, then, that multi-billionaires buy gas-guzzling private jets, motoryachts and sports cars, eh?).
Even the humblest of electric cars comes at a cost premium, but Renault has nailed the problem with the sassy plug-in Zoe: a whisker under £14k to buy, but you lease the expensive batteries for a monthly cost. Works for us, works for the planet; probably won’t be bought by any oligarchs.
More after the break...
Runner-up: BMW i3 (from £25,680)
Oh, look, BMW has launched an electric car. Obviously it’s megayears later than the Prius, but we all have to sit up and pay attention because it’s a BMW, is that it?
Well, no. Curse our hempen socks if the damn thing isn’t rather good. And clever. And has a beautiful wooden dashboard. Don’t let your prejudice put you at the back of the queue.
Runner-up: McLaren P1 (£866,000)
Trust Britain’s most-noticed sports car maker to take a somewhat different stance on a hybrid.
It mates a 727bhp V8 engine to a 176bhp electric motor, then adds a lot of active aerodynamics and dynamic suspension systems to make a car capable of 0-62mph in under three seconds and 2g of conering force. And yet, it can make 30mpg they say. Will you have to pay road tax on this hybrid? Yes. Yes, you will.
Runner-up: Tesla Model S (£82,000 est.)
Tesla’s first car was a silent Lotus-aping sports car. Then it said it was to make a saloon. Oh, we thought. Rubbish, we thought. Wrong, we were.
The Model S is now the standard for a futuristic electric super-saloon. It’s fast, it’s quiet, it’s technologically advanced and, crucially, it’s usable. Once the availability of roadside fast-chargers increases, expect to see more and more of these.