The best tech drives of 2014

From innovative on-board apps to ultra-stylish plug-in hybrid vehicles, we celebrate a year of four-wheeled innovation
The best tech drives of 2014

Cars as we know them - boxy things with four wheels and an engine - have changed massively over recent years and none more so than in 2014.

This year, the idea of all-electric and hybrid motoring became more important than ever, smartphone functionality was at the top of every manufacturer's to-do list and blisteringly quick supercars made way for extraordinarily fast hybrid hypercars.

Cutting-edge technology no longer begins and ends with the stereo either; it's now the backbone of every successful new car and below is a collection of this year's greatest automotive tech achievements.

Take a look and reignite those utopian visions of flying cars/aquatic vehicles/autonomous machines (delete where appropriate), because if car tech keeps moving at this pace, it won't be long before we're hailing a hovering Johnny Cab to work in the morning.

READ MORE: Mercedes AMG GT review

Volkswagen Golf GTE

The best tech drives of 2014

VW reckons that eco-friendly vehicles don't have to be boring, so they went and released a 201bhp hybrid hot hatch that will also return a staggering 188mpg.

OK, we'll admit the Golf GTE's on-road performance won't set pants ablaze but it's quick enough to make any journey 100-times more enjoyable than riding in a Renault ZOE. Plus, it's a Golf, so the craftsmanship is second-to-none, as too is the built-in infotainment system.

It can also mooch around town on battery power alone for up to 31 miles, making it one of the most sensible, enjoyable and economically viable city cars currently on the market.

READ MORE: Volkswagen Golf GTE review

Tesla Model S

The best tech drives of 2014

"A car designed by non-car person, that’s never going to work," went the collective moanings when Elon Musk first unveiled his plans to create a superior electric car. Oh how wrong the naysayers were when the magnificent Tesla Model S first skulked the streets of Silicon Valley this year.

A potential 480-km range, 0-100kph in 4.2 seconds and not a single emission from the tailpipes are the headline-grabbers, but then there's the 17-inch in-dash touch-screen that's as "silkily responsive as an iPad Air," according to our review, and packed with so many features it almost takes the spotlight away from the incredibly good ride.

Thanks to its mightily impressive range, sports-car-beating performance and innovative use of familiar consumer technology inside, the Tesla Model S is the undeniable king of the current electric car crop.

READ MORE: Tesla Model S review

Ferrari FXXK

The best tech drives of 2014

With 1035bhp on tap, Ferrari's latest 'for-track-use-only' hypercar isn't on this list for its array of impressive on-board gadgetry but purely for its performance figures, which are aided by some of the latest motorsport innovations.

A 6.3-litre V12 is boosted by a powerful electric motor that uses the latest Kinetic Energy Recovery System to give added shove at the driver's command. The result is a 0-100kph sprint time of around 2.5 seconds and price tag of £1.5million (RM8.1 million). The Porsche 918 Spyder and the McLaren P1 may have moved the game on with their combined power outputs, but very little compares to the most recent Ferrari's ferocity. It well and truly deserves its hypercar reputation. 

READ MORE: Land Rover Discovery Sport - First Drive review