I don't know what being sent to review a bicycle says about my driving abilities, but I got the last laugh for having the most fun with a vehicle review. Tearing through neighbourhoods, hills and city streets on an electric pedal-assist bicycle is living out your best unfulfilled grade-school speed demon dreams.
I was appalled to learn that my colleagues, the Mikes Roselli and Ballaban, did not like the 2017 BMW M2. Too hardcore, they said. Too harsh and crazy and ill-suited to daily driving! I called shenanigans on that, and I'm thrilled to say I'm right and they're wrong.
I'm about to complain. Not about the 2017 Porsche Macan GTS, that thing is damn near perfect. I'm about to complain about my life, and you're going to hate me for it.
The 2017 Honda Civic Si is no revelation of automotive excellence. But it's easy to live with, encourages hard driving and has a little attitude without making you look like an arsehole. Messing around with this car is enough to lure anyone into driving for the fun of it, and that's exactly the point.
Yes, the Ford Focus ST is actually still around. It's the hot hatchback we love but faded into the shadows after its little sibling, the Fiesta ST, kicked its arse in the fun-per-dollar argument. It then totally lost everyone's attention when the almighty Focus RS arrived and decimated everything. It's still damn good.
The 2017 Alta Redshift MX may be a high-end, high-tech electric dirt bike, but it's not afraid to get down and dirty. I know this because I crashed a brand new one on a Florida motocross track, and it didn't even flinch. Actually, it didn't even stall. I could get used to this "electric dirt bike" thing.
Built from recycled materials, powered by an efficient electric motor, and now with a larger battery that promises to handle almost any long-distance journey without breaking a sweat, the BMW i3 is one of the most environmentally friendly cars you can buy. It's efficient when you drive it, and at the end of its life cycle a full 95 per cent can be returned to the earth from whence it came.
Holden now has the 2016 European car of the year in its local stables. A starting price of just $21,990 gets you into one of the most technology-packed cars in its price bracket -- turbo engines and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto across the entire range, and on the top RS-V you also get Holden's first forward-facing, traffic-sensing camera and some very very cool headlights.
There aren't that many cars that you can buy brand new that feel fun. There are even fewer that feel fun for every single second that you're driving them. Even fewer again aren't purpose-built sports cars and can be bought by normal people with normal car-buying budgets. The Ford Focus RS, based on that humble Focus hatch, is the hottest hot hatch that you can spend your money on, and it's a masterpiece.
Today, Tesla starts selling the Model X in Australia. It's a $130,000-plus all-electric SUV that seats up to seven adults in comfort, can travel nearly 550km on a single charge, and can accelerate up to 100km/h in just over 3 seconds. Like the Model S, you can charge it for free at Tesla's network of Superchargers.
Where the Model S was based around a relatively simple concept, though -- a luxurious car built around a huge battery and electric motors -- the Model X integrates that technology into every door and panel. It's one of the most complicated cars you can buy, and you'll start seeing it on Australian roads soon.
The new Honda NSX, when it hits our shores early next year, will be the first hybrid supercar released in Australia. And, yes, it makes sense to emphasise the hybrid part -- while it can be an all-out supercar that cracks 0-100km/h in under three seconds and storms on to 300km/h with change to spare, it can also creep around town on electricity alone, eerily quiet. Oh, and you'll pay $420,000 for the privilege.
It’s a rare occasion when you’re invited to enter the cockpit of a McLaren -- which we took with open arms -- but imagine testing three of McLaren’s latest supercars in the one day? Yeah. We peed a little. Sadly, Sydney’s roads are notoriously bad for driving at speeds above 50km/h. With a little clever pre-planning from McLaren’s team driver Luke O’Neill though, we found some of the best secluded roads available to this man and his three machines.
I grew up out bush, where if you drove a four-wheel drive it was because you went four-wheel driving. You, know, where you actually need one. Given my background, I'll admit to having judged those drivers; extra large latte in hand, barely visible behind the bulk of their giant steering wheel squeezing through peak hour traffic, Timmy and five friends in the back beneath a mountain of sports equipment.
If curves could kill then consider the Giulia Quadrifoglio (QV) one deadly Italian. It’s beautiful, it’s angular, it’s aggressive, but most importantly it doesn’t feel like a carbon copy of the other mid-sized sedans in its class. It’s unique in all the right places with little touches which give it the ‘don’t mess with me, I’ll blow your doors off’ vibe -- The very vibe you want to give off when dropping the kids off at school.
Toyota has built a new Prius that it says is not only incredibly efficient with the way it uses petrol, but is also fun to drive. It's not exactly a balls-to-the-wall race car, but it is fun -- in its own way -- especially if you like challenging yourself to save fuel.
Volvo's newest car is also the first vehicle built under the company's new Chinese ownership. The reinvented XC90 may cost a cool $90,000 -- that's a full $20,000 more than the model it replaces -- but it packs in some of the most advanced in-car technology in its class. As a big, seven-seater SUV it's built for families, and it keeps that reassurance of Volvo's impeccable track record with some smart autonomous braking features and excellent overall safety. Inside, you're ringed by LCD panels and touchscreens -- it's more like a rolling command center than it is a regular four-wheel drive.