by Brendan McAleer

There’s an interesting fact about the best car I drove in 2013, and an even more interesting fact about the worst one. Amazingly, I drove both vehicles at the same time.

Naturally, this feat was possible because they’re the same machine. For my next trick, I will now type a sentence using only my elbows. *drum-roll*

pp;rewwrtttyy ammmaazingggg, rfi8gh5ttt???”?

Aston Martin Vantage V12
Best and Worst of 2013. Click image to enlarge

Anyway, the simultaneous best/worst car of 2013 was, for me, the new Aston Martin V12 Vantage S with its single-clutch paddle-shifted automatic transmission. High in the serpentine roads that snake up from Palm Springs, it was a revelation, a masterpiece, a sculpted rocketship forged by having the god of thunder shout at a lump of aluminum for an extended period of time. Completely fantastic, utterly wonderful, totally amazing, rather unreasonable price tag.

However, neck-deep in the traffic flowing sluggishly through the flatlands below, the clunky, thunky, borderline-unbearable seven-speed almost ruined the entire experience. It was like crafting a beautifully decadent chocolate cake, garnishing it with maraschino cherries and truffle cream, and then stuffing it with layers of Vegemite. Our Australian editor, Jacob Black, won’t understand why this is a bad thing, but trust me, it is. In a car that costs so much you’d need to have more kids just so you can sell them off for medical experimentation, it’s totally unacceptable.

So, with the best and worst drive of 2013 handily out of the way, let’s turn an eye to the rest of the list. Here are the Best and Worst of this year.

Worst Wheels
A dishonourable mention here goes to pretty much anything with a unnecessarily huge diameter. Idiotically large rims are destroying both the wallets and spines of the nation, what with the high replacement cost of tires and the crashing quality of all that unsprung weigh bashing about. Yes, a forged lightweight alloy wheel makes a difference in racing, and no, that same diameter wheel doesn’t need to go on a roadcar. Tire technology is much more advanced these days: bring back the sidewall. R-Line Beetle Turbo, I’m talking to you and your 19” dubs.

Anyway, this one’s an easy pick: the Nissan 370Z. What the heck were they thinking? The old Zed looked pretty good with the optional Sport package, but because the new model had to look different, a new set of wonky rims now make the car awkward. Happily, this sort of thing is easily changed.

Aston Martin V12 Vantage S?Fiat 500 Abarth
Best and Worst of 2013. Click image to enlarge

Best Engine Note

I did mention I drove an Aston Martin V12, right? Because I did. And it was glorious. Mostly.

However, for much, much, much less money, you could have a Fiat 500 Abarth, which makes noises that no 1.4L should be capable of. It’s a bit like saying hello to your cat and having it roar at you like the MGM lion. This little Italian rocket certainly rates an honourable mention.

But the win must go to some proper British Thunder from a different source: the Jaguar F-Type. This machine provided one of the most invigorating drives of the year, snarling through the tunnels like a feral – well, like a Jaguar, actually. A big round of applause to the Brits for getting this car so right. Er, when it’s not broken.

Worst Tease

At the full-line drive of their new 2014 models, VW showed up with a bright blue Scirocco R and said we could all have a go in it, but only for five minutes. “Also,” they said, “The route has no cornering.” “Also,” they also said, “We’re not going to sell this sleek, desirable, 265-hp vehicle in Canada.” Then they said “HA-HA!” like Nelson Muntz and stuck their tongue out at us.

I can’t help but feel that this sort of behaviour is both reprehensible and unfair. Canada needs the Scirocco, and we need it yesterday.

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