First drive: BMW i3

First drive BMW i3

The BMW i3 isn't built like any other electric car. It's made of different stuff, and its layout is different. Everything about it has been considered and re-thought. Despite the fact it comes from an established car company, its whole approach and execution is amazingly fresh. And so driving it is a mind-cleansing experience too.

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First drive: Aston Martin V12 Vantage S

First drive Aston Martin V12 Vantage S

The Aston Martin Vantage V12 S, the most aggressive version yet of the junior range. With plenty of other, more softly tuned versions in the line up, AM has gone to town on the V12 S to make it the most rip-snorting, thuggish car they could build. And they haven't done too bad a job.

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First drive: McLaren 12C GT3 racer

First drive McLaren 12C GT3 racer

As a road car based Formula, GT3 kind of lulls you into a false sense of security. These cars look familiar, which gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling. Yes, the road car in question here is the McLaren 12C, which is so fast and so blazingly hi-tech that the racing rules and requirement for what's known as ‘balance of performance' mean that the race car version is actually 126bhp less powerful than the one Joe Schmo can buy. Crazy but true.

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First Drive: the Renault Twizy F1

Renault Twizy F1

In 1995, Renault stuck an 800bhp version of their era-defining V10 Formula One engine into a Renault Espace body. Oh, those wacky French. There were a few centre-of-gravity issues, if we remember rightly, but as a headline-grabbing means of showing off, it sure did the trick.

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First Drive: 2014 Jeep Cherokee

2014 Jeep Cherokee

What is it?

I know, not obvious from the looks, is it? This is the 2014 Jeep Cherokee. The nameplate hasn't featured in the UK line-up for more than four years now, but it's going to make a reappearance next Spring. It's been built off a widened version of the CUSY platform that underpins the Alfa Giulietta and the Dodge Dart, and is powered in the US by slightly modified versions of the 2.4-litre four cylinder Tiger Shark and 3.2-litre Pentastar V6 that power the smallest Dodge.

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First drive: the Alfa Romeo 4C

Alfa Romeo 4C

Generally, you know how you feel about a car after about, oh, five minutes. Call it the fizzy nethers or simple gut instinct. But after 24 hours, 500 miles, and several of the world’s best mountain passes at the wheel of the Alfa Romeo 4C, we still can’t make the definitive call. Why? Because Alfa’s new baby is a car that manages to be both hugely seductive and irritatingly inconsistent, often on the same stretch of road.

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First Drive: new Vauxhall Insignia

new Vauxhall Insignia

Stretching the definition of ‘brand new' a bit, aren't you?

Yes, you're quite right. It's not actually brand new, more a thorough spruce up to keep the big ol' lug up to date.

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Nissan Note 1.2 DIG-S

Note

The Car

- Distinctive and sporty lines a nice touch to the family-oriented hatchback, without compromising practicality.

- Generous headroom and legroom for five plus-sized adults, primarily due to Nissan’s emphasis in reduction of mechanical components.

- Eco-friendly features include “Idling Stop System” and “ECO Meter”, complementing a lightweight yet sturdy chassis.

- 1.2-litre, 78bhp naturally-aspirated alternative serves as the base variant.

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First drive: the Fensport GT 86

The Fensport GT 86

Can our car of the year...

Hmm, didn’t you drive another tuned Toyota GT 86 recently?

No, that was a Subaru BRZ. Totally different. It was supercharged for one thing and this one’s turbocharged.

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First drive: new BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe

640i GC

This isn't quite a competitor to the Mercedes CLS. Just as well really, given how late it is to that particular party. Instead it's bigger and more expensive - into Panamera territory. This makes it subtly grander than the Benz. (Well it would be subtle if this particular one wasn't trimmed in the optional dazzling white and queasy brown. Other decors are available.)

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