Driven's 10 biggest car stories of the year (according to you)
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It's almost time for a new year to hit, signalling for many new opportunities, new challenges, and the chance to make life resolutions that will — at best — last until the middle of February.
In the motoring world 2018 flew by, thanks to the mad whirlwind of new car announcements, scandals, and rapid evolution in technology for the industry to report on. Normally, this is the time that Driven looks back at what we thought were the biggest stories of the year. But, this year we thought it'd be interesting to do something a little different.
So without further ado, here are Driven's 10 most clicked on stories of 2018. Some weren't surprising in the slightest. Others were a bit of a surprise...
The Nissan R35 GT-R, as wonderful a device as it is, is a long-in-the-tooth supercar killer.
So it wasn't a shock to see the GT-R50 light the internet on fire with speculation and hype — was this a window into what the next-generation GT-R will look like?
The answer is probably a mixed one. Penned by Italdesign, the GT-R50 is meant to be a GT-R "without limits". As such, the design is something that wowed many Japanese car fans. Distinctive goldish copperish elements front and rear are among its most unique features, while changes to the powertrain underneath (the 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6 we know and love) upped output to 530kW and 780Nm.
The interest in the GT-R50 upon its reveal was so strong that Nissan eventually confirmed that they were actually going to make it. Production of the limited-run machine will commence next year, with a price-tag of $1.4m.
Love it or loathe it (going on sales, most people are in the 'love it' camp), the Ford Ranger Raptor has been a big story in Australasia. In fact, it appears twice in this list.
The first of these was an article detailing the Raptor's arrival in New Zealand ahead of a debut at Fieldays. A raft of Kiwi journos were invited to a helicopter hangar, and then given reign to pour over the off-roader in the flesh. We took plenty of pictures, then later took one away on road test.
The Alternative Commentary Collective — New Zealand's leading sports broadcasting team by a significant margin — came on board with Driven this year to deliver some top notch car hacks.
And the most popular of the bunch was this one; their replacement for the proverbial garden hose reel. Click through above and enjoy.
We stepped up our Car of the Year process this year to make it arguably the most rigorous in the country.
The result of weeks of testing was a curious group of finalists, and our reveal of these finalists got plenty of tongues wagging. There was the first not-Aussie-made Holden Commodore, the first Hyundai hot hatch, the charming oddball Volvo XC40, and a bunch of other interesting stories.
In the end, it was the Mercedes-Benz A-Class that took top honours.
There's something about hidden treasure that triggers an excitement in all of us. It's why some will trawl online sales sites and garage sales, and it's why this story about a somewhat forgotten Subaru sports car went so well.
This was a tale about an abandoned dealership in Malta, still filled with cars that have assumedly been parked inside since the building shut down in the '90s.
Amongst the Imprezas, tucked down the back, is a Subaru XT Turbo. The wedge-shaped, high-tech two-door has hopefully since been rescued.
Photo / Erwin van Maanen
The arrival of the new Holden Commodore was a biggie this year.
We road-tested most of the range, hosted a comparison between the VXR and the Toyota Camry V6, and revisited it when it was revealed as a finalist of our AA Driven New Zealand Car of the Year festivities. But the story that got the most traffic of the bunch, funnily enough, was this first (reader submitted!) sighting of the German-made Commodore in police dress.
The price of petrol became a huge political issue in New Zealand this year, off the back of a new Government with a new opposition and a big swirl of new ideas.
Whether you're a fan or not of the increases, it should go without saying that the raising prices of most things — including housing and food — have meant that fuel-efficient cars are as relevant now as they've ever been. And we're not just talking about electric cars here. Our most viewed edition of Driven News with Sam Wallace was the episode that detailed this very topic.
Kiwis aren't good drivers (underlined by another year of increased death tolls on our roads), so earlier this year we thought it would be productive to do a story outlining some of our worst driving habits.
It's important to continually remind those out there in the big wide world that speeding isn't the be-all-end-all of unsafe driving. Someone who obeys the speed limit religiously can still be a menace to other drivers on the road — as well as themselves.
Yep, it's that pesky Ford Ranger Raptor again.
Our article detailing the Kiwi pricing on the Raptor ranked highly not only because it was an in-demand machine, but also because of all the doubt on whether $84,990 is a fair price for a ute that sports a 2.0-litre engine.
We've now driven the Raptor for a few thousand Ks across numerous terrains, and can confirm that the engine is, by and large, pretty good. Its leading weakness is a lack of punch when needing to make passes at motorway speeds.
After all the articles on cars exotic, fast, and weird, and our most popular story of the year centres around a flippin' Honda Torneo from the mid-'90s.
The Japanese sedan once again New Zealand's most stolen car, edging out the Mazda Demio after a brief hiatus off the top. The most stolen list (issued by AA Insurance), also included the Mazda Familia, Demio, Subaru Impreza, and Nissan Sunny in the top five.
Why the Torneo then? It's hard to say. Being an older car means they don't necessarily come with the advanced anti-theft tech that current cars have. High-spec Euro R models also have sought-after parts like Recaro seats and a 2.2-litre VTEC 'H22' engine that are easy to chop up and sell separately.
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