5 cars that gave us a hell of a ride in 2018
Motoring editor Thomas Falkiner picks his favourite cars - and motorbike - of the year
1. HONDA CIVIC TYPE R
The Type R is back and better than it has been in quite some time. Though it still divides opinion with Marmite styling, Japan's answer to the Golf R blew my brain matter apart with its combination of exquisite handling and fiery turbocharged VTEC motor.
Oh, and let's not forget the best manual gearbox seen since the legendary S2000 exited stage left in 2009. I'm not a massive fan of front-driven performance cars, but the way this thing tears through corners - eerily neutral without the faintest whiff of understeer - is quite incredible. It'll easily give something like a Porsche Cayman a run for its money.
Also, and unlike in the previous Type R, you can use it every day without fear of slipping a disc over anything but the smoothest A-Grade bitumen.
2. PORSCHE 991.2 GT3 RS
The 911 GT2 RS may be faster, but the GT3 RS just feels more visceral, more special. For, unlike in its more powerful sibling, there are no turbochargers to help push you along.
Nope, here in the naturally aspirated GT3 you have to work for your speed and that means chasing the stratospheric 9,000rpm redline through all of the gears.
It's an addictive act: one complemented by one of the best-sounding engines you'll ever hear. Backed up by the sweetest of modern Porsche chassis, and brakes that could stop a small planet, the 991.2 GT3 RS is the posterboy for 2018 driving nirvana.
3. AUDI TT-RS
Being comfortable with my sexuality, I've never been afraid of admitting my fondness for the Audi TT. It's a semi-practical, right-sized sports car that gets better and sharper as the years roll by.
Not to mention faster. Well, at least in the case of the TT-RS, that is. Armed with Audi's turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder motor, this thing is ridiculously rapid in a straight line. Seriously, there are exotic supercars from not that long ago (think Aston Martin DBS or Lamborghini Gallardo) that would struggle to match the pace of this little sports coupé.
In fact I think you'd be silly to cough up extra for an R8 - it's that quick. More usable too.
4. ALFA ROMEO STELVIO SUPER Q4
Like the Giulia, the Stelvio really won me over with its fine styling, excellent power train and taut handling. For a burly SUV you can chuck it around with a surprising amount of abandon - especially in this Q4 model that comes equipped with an intelligent all-wheel-drive system.
The interior loses some ground to its competitors in terms of quality and overall refinement, sure, but on the whole the Stelvio is an impressive package. What a pity so few people will buy one, then.
5. BMW G 310 R
If you're new to motorcycling then the little G 310R is the iron horse you've long been waiting for: a premium offering from a respected brand that doesn't cost a fortune to either buy or maintain.
More importantly, it doesn't look like a small bike: there's a visual substance to this baby BMW that makes it appear more muscular than it really is. Still, that 310cc motor packs enough punch to have fun with - especially in the tight confines of our city streets.
Handling is confidence inspiring (perfect for beginners) and the riding position upright and comfortable. ABS brakes are standard. All in all the sexy G 310R is the perfect antidote to rising fuel prices and traffic levels.