First drive: the new Audi S1

Audi S1

Hello. Haven't we met before?

Well, there was an Audi S1 before. It stalked the WRC stages in the early 1980s, a Group B car in the era when rally cars really were from planet crazy. This isn't. It's a four-wheel-drive hot hatch. It's an Audi A1, its bonnet stuffed with an uprated version of the Golf GTI's two-litre turbo engine, revised front steering and suspension, and new rear suspension to accommodate the 4WD system.


First drive: Merc SLS Final Edition

SLS Final Edition

What's that?

A sad farewell, that's what. This is the last-ever version of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, dubbed the ‘GT Final Edition'. And it's only available in a limited run of 350 models. In fact we should have labelled this a ‘last drive'.


First drive: Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake

What is it?

As we reported recently, Jaguar wants a piece of the super-estate market dominated by the Audi RS6 Avant and Mercedes E63. To that end it has bolted a Sportbrake body onto the XFR-S underpinnings. Lifestyle and speed in one handy package, that's the pitch.


First drive: the BMW X5 eDrive

BMW X5 eDrive

That's a perfectly ordinary 2013-model BMW X5 with a load of disguise tape on. Is this 2012 or what?

Nope. It really is a prototype for a car that isn't out until next year. Admittedly when it is launched it'll look just like the regular X5. But because it's a prototype powertrain, BMW paradoxically insists it has the zebra tape, even if that makes it more, not less, conspicuous.


First drive: Can-Am Spyder RT

Can_Am Spyder RT

What on earth is that?

It's the Can-Am Spyder RT, made by the excellently named Bombardier Recreational Products. It's a sort of three-wheeled, mutant trike that lurks between 'full-blown touring bike' and 'quad'. It's also fully customisable too, with many of these being sold to the disabled. There's a charming story about former Royal Marine Commando Joe Townsend, who's got a custom Spyder RS-S that features special clips for his prosthetic legs.


First drive: new Subaru WRX STI

Subaru WRX STI

So what is it?

It's the car formerly known as the Subaru Impreza WRX STI, now shorn of the ‘Impreza' bit for reasons TG doesn't quite understand. No matter. Point is, the Subaru WRX STI is the fastest and most extreme car in the Impreza range.


First drive: Electric Mercedes B-Class

Electric Mercedes B_Class

What's that?

It's a near-production version of the Mercedes B-Class ‘Electric Drive', the latter part of that nomenclature referring to the fact that yes, it's electric. And drives.


First drive: the brand new Mini

First drive the brand new Mini

Looks like the Mini's had another facelift...

Look again. It's entirely new, almost to the last nut and bolt. Yes, it's a close facsimile of the last one, but that's just how Mini rolls. Well it works for the Porsche 911.


First drive: VW Golf R...on ice

VW Golf R...on ice

What's this?

The fastest, most powerful Golf ever, that's what. Golfs started getting R treatment in 2002 with the V6-engined R32 and since then the power has kept on coming. So now we're up to this one - the fourth R generation - with a 2-litre turbo making 296bhp, that's 29bhp more than the last R and a healthy 70bhp more than a GTI. It also comes with the newest version of VW's 4Motion four-wheel-drive system, and MQB chassis goodness as per all Mk7 Golfs. That puts it in the dropzone of superhatches like the Audi S3 and Merc A45 AMG.


First drive: BMW 4-Series convertible

BMW 4_Series convertible

Well, that looks pretty suave...

Sure does. Folding hardtops do tend to look a bit lardy in the backside, especially four-seaters. It's a consequence of having to stow away such a big roof. But the 4 Convertible's tail is low and suitably lean. And the rest of the bodywork, like the 4-series Coupe, certainly gives no cause for complaint.