What a year 2016 was. Over 30 new cars reviewed ranging from city cars, hatchbacks, pick-up trucks and big and small SUVs.
In the last year I have enjoyed what I have been given, been dismayed at what I had been given, annoyed and elated all at the same time. Well sort of. Some cars annoyed me in their stupidity of things while some I was full of admiration for how they did things. Sometimes it was because they didn’t do things that made me enjoy them all the more.
I have sat down and whittled it down to my top 3 of 2016. Let me know if you agree in the comments below.
3) Nissan Navara NP300 Tekna
Despite my local authority not liking the Navara as I was prevented from entering the dump with garden waste in it, I happened to love the Navara. Its sheer size and car like cabin made it a joy to be in. The fact that with its 360 degree camera made parking a breeze, it was really easy to live with. And you wouldn’t want to damage the Navara. It’s one ruddy handsome bastard.
Admittedly I did find it a bit wayward in 2 wheel drive mode because I was always unladen. Inner rear wheel spin was always there in the wet. Put it into 4 wheel drive and its manners became impeccable.
The interior was well thought out and well put together. The price was also enticing and possibly one of the many reasons as to why there are so many on the road. For wall that you get in the Tekna double cab package, it is so very cheap in price.
On the road it was smoother than an empty pick-up should be. It was also surprisingly quick. Apart from some vocalised engine noise, overall it was never harsh even over poor roads and it was macho. All that was missing on the options list was a testosterone package to make the interior smell of sweat and hard graft. That might have just elevated it to second place.
2) Peugeot 208 GTi Sport
Second places goes to a car that did nothing to annoy me. The simple fact that I could pull away without my seatbelt on was refreshingly nice. I know that sounds quite bad and is illegal, but when you want to move the car off the drive way it was so simple to do. The 208 put YOU back in control of decision making. If you so wanted you could also start the engine with it in gear. None of this foot on clutch or brake pedal nonsense.
What the 208 lacked in niceties and overall refinement it more than made up for it with its sheer brilliant chassis packaging and entertainment ability. A Peugeot this good as a road going go-kart has been a long time coming. The 206 and 207 lacked so much that l thought Peugeot had given up on making fun cars.
The point and squirt ability of the car made it a hoot to drive fast. It would get a bit hair raising if you pushed it to within an inch of its incredible abilities with a touch of over steer though unlike its great ancestor, the 205, it was all so much more easy to control.
Yes refinement over long journeys was an after thought in some ways. However if you want comfort in a GTi then don’t buy the Sport edition. And don’t buy it either if you want to carry people in the rear. Personally l don’t really care about rear leg room. I loved the 208.
1) Jeep Renegade Trialhawk
If I am honest I didn’t hold out much hope for the Jeep. In the past they had always been a bit hit and miss. Poor build quality and road going dynamics were sometimes in short supply. Enter Fiat who quickly changed that. The Renegade looked good, was well specced and throughly enjoyable.
There were a few things I didn’t like. Well 2 if I am honest. It didn’t look good in red and the mud splatter on the rev counter still haunts me probably more because it looked like poop and reminded me too much of my day job.
On the plus side the other little touches and attention to fine details were rewarding and pleasant. It was logical. It is big enough for what you need and yet small enough to make it easy to park. The long drive to Birmingham was a walk in the park and it handled a sudden lane change at speed like a sports car. Something I didn’t expect it to do.
At first I thought it wasn’t cheap at £31,765 (then) however when compared to its Fiat 500x sibling at £25,935, that extra £6 grand doesn’t seem a lot for what you got. Go the other way and spend another £6000 and you get the Cherokee M Jet we also tested. Suddenly for what you get it all starts looking like really good value.
And the fact that this has won “Best small 4×4” by 4×4 Magazine for two years in a row says it all. I wasn’t able to test its 4×4 ability but I won’t argue with 4×4 Magazines decision on this one. They know a few things about off roading.
So there you have it, my top three of 2016. There were some that were close to coming into my top 3 but they just missed it. If I were allowed a 3.5 then l would award that to ‘Giggles” the Renault Twingo. I grinned from ear to ear like a Cheshire cat with that one. That was one car I was very sad to see go back.