The Toyota GR Yaris is probably the most surprising car of 2020, which is why it absolutely deserves to be the standout car of the year. Even before the pandemic, cars were heading towards a green, sensible, electrified-but-unexciting future. A future where performance cars that don’t cost the same as a house would be consigned to the pages of history, and for the longest time Toyota seemed to be at the forefront of this trend. But then it releases the GR Yaris – a homologation special that harks back to specials of the 1980s and 1990s, like the Celica GT-Four or Ford Escort RS Cosworth.
Some cars have a mysterious ability of putting you in a certain type of driving mood. For example, my 1996 BMW 320i makes lovely straight-six noises between 2,000 and 3,000rpm, and as a result I drive it mostly at cruising speeds. The Toyota Aygo on the other hand is one of those cars I found myself driving faster than strictly necessary most of the time. It’s a small city car with only 82hp, so it isn’t that fast by any means. But there’s more to driving fun than outright speed, and after two weeks of driving it, I can easily say it’s the second most fun I’ve had in a car this year (the first was in a 2014 Mustang GT convertible).
When the Toyota RAV4 first appeared in 1994, it was one of a very few number of small crossover SUVs. Back then, the Corolla-based RAV4 was meant to be a compromise between a hardcore off-roader and a small sedan. While it managed to strike a good balance between the two, there was no denying that it was made on a budget – carrying probably one of the least-inviting interiors of any car. However, fast-forward to 2013 and things have changed quite a bit. Not only is there a seemingly limitless choice for small crossover SUVs, but the new RAV4 feels like a completely different vehicle to its ancestor.
While the design of the new RAV4 isn’t revolutionary, nor does it leave people stunned by its beauty, the sharp angles are well-executed and give it a very contemporary look. Compared to the original RAV4 it’s also bigger in size too, which helps create extra space in the interior. While the car is bigger than its ancestor, it is still a small-sized SUV – it feels like a hatchback with a high driving position.
Why do a lot of car enthusiasts love to hate the Toyota Prius? It could be because Priuses have never been in the list of most attractive cars. It could be because they aren’t performance-oriented in any way. Some enthusiasts feel that their owners become smug and feel superior to other drivers for driving a fuel-efficient car (as shown in this video). Then you’ve got the fact that owning one automatically gets you perks that other drivers don’t get, such as: low tax, free access to congestion charging zones, using carpool lanes at will, and special parking spaces. Some argue that this is unfair since the Prius does little to save the environment – especially if you consider the manufacturing process of its batteries. But having lived with the Prius Plug-in Hybrid for two weeks, I was surprised to find myself actually liking the car a lot, and it definitely proved itself to be a standout car.
Toyota has revealed the facelifted 2014 4Runner for its North American market.
The 2014 Toyota 4Runner has the same body-on-frame construction as before, and is available in SR5, Limited and Trail trims. It also carries over the same 4.0-litre VVTi V6 engine as the pre-facelift model – with 270hp and 278lb ft of torque – sending power through a five-speed ECT-i automatic transmission.
The Toyota GT86 represents the return of something exciting in the Toyota brand’s model range in many years. Not only is it Toyota’s first rear-wheel drive sports coupe since production of the Supra ended in 2002, but it is being marketed as a Corolla Levin (AE86) reincarnation. The AE86 was without doubt one of the best affordable rear-wheel drive sports coupes of the 1980s, and with Japanese race car driver, Keiichi Tsuchiya, performing wonders on the race track and deserted mountain roads with one, the AE86 became a popular choice for enthusiasts, drifters, and tuners. So, if the new GT86 is to be anything like its predecessor, it will have to be affordable, rear-wheel drive, have potential for tuning, be lightweight, and – most importantly – be fun to drive.
With 2012 just days away from ending, we can only hope that 2013 will have as many exciting new cars as this year did. Here is a gallery of 22 cars that made a good first impression. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Toyota has revealed the latest version of their high-selling Auris, ahead of its Paris Motor Show debut in September.
Toyota is claiming that the new Auris will be cheaper to run, and that it will be better to drive thanks to improved dynamics. The UK-built Auris will be available in either Hybrid or normal petrol and diesel versions.
Opel Ampera/Chevy Volt
Apart from winning the 2012 Car of the Year award, it’s a plug-in hybrid car that looks good too. The specs? It has a 150hp electric motor along with 370Nm of torque, with a claimed range of up to 80km (50miles) on a fully charged battery pack. Its 1.4-litre engine is there only to power a generator when the battery range is low (the engine doesn’t send power to the wheels at any time) – which then extends the range to 500km. It is expensive though – prices start at CHF 52,900 (around $57,000) in Switzerland.
Ferrari F12 Berlinetta
The F12 Berlinetta drew a huge crowd on press day. It was easily one of the most anticipated cars of the show – and with 740hp, it’s easy to see why. Its 6.3-litre V12 engine is the most powerful of any Ferrari road car, which definitely makes it a standout car. However powerful the engine might be, the design might divide opinion – looking a bit similar to the FF at the front. However, all is certainly forgotten as you approach its 212mph top speed.
The 2012 Geneva Motor Show is anything but short of exciting new cars. There are far too many cool cars to have them all posted here, but with more than 100 photos, it's more than just a taste of what the show has to offer. Make sure you come back next week for the ultimate standouts of the show.