2013: The year in cars

Jaguar Project 7
Jaguar's Project 7 was just one of many automotive highlights of 2013
"Every year sees countless concept cars, but the Nissan IDX is arguably the coolest of recent times"
  • | by Daniel Bevis

The motoring year of 2013 provided a delicious platter of piquant titbits.

Let’s refresh our collective memories with a taste of the most succulent bits, shall we?

Hybrid hypercars

Image of hypercars

These are like buses – enormous, red, a stern conductor standing at the back… oh wait, no, we’re trapped in a joke from the 1970s. They come in threes, of course! That’s the ‘witty’ punchline.

2013 drip-fed us constant performance rumours about the Porsche 918, blew our minds with the spaceship-like McLaren P1, and frankly stopped everyone in their tracks with the Ferrari LaFerrari. (Yes, that is what it’s called. Best not to ask.)

These goliaths employ race-bred technology like Kers, DRS and, of course, hybrid electrickery, to make them eyelid-peelingly quick. Unsurprisingly they’re quite expensive too.

In your face, Veyron – the next generation are here, and they’re half as light as you.

Aston Martin CC100

Image of CC100

Aston Martin got its telegram from the Queen this year. A hundred years of hammering together swanky sports cars? We should all be very proud.

The firm held all manner of exciting events, but by far and away the coolest thing it gifted the world was the CC100. It’s a sort of carbon-fibre grasshopper with the face of the old Le Mans hero DBR1 of the 1950s.

Beneath that nu-retro skin resides a naturally aspirated 6.0-litre V12 with a sequential 'box, allowing the driver to scream from 0-62mph in about four seconds as the wind whips around their knees. Sounds like a pretty good birthday game...

BMW i3

Image of BMW i3

There’s nothing more futuristic on the forecourts right now than BMW’s i3, and that’s a solid-gold fact.

It’s made of carbon-fibre reinforced plastic and is fully electric, although you can also specify a range-extender that has a dinky twin-cylinder engine to recharge the battery.

It’s a weird thing to drive, as you basically don’t need to use the brake pedal – when you release the accelerator, the car automatically starts braking in order to harvest the energy for its Kers system. Bit unsettling, that.

Now, you may remember the Audi A2 of 1999? Years ahead of its time, it was – innovative aluminium construction, unrivalled frugality, a ‘service hatch’ behind the front grill, a bit too expensive… It now enjoys a dedicated but ultimately quite small following.

Is this the future of the i3? Or will people actually buy it? Time will tell.

The lunacy of Lamborghini

Image of Lamborghinis

As 2013 was Lamborghini’s 50th birthday, they made two utterly mad things. One  was the one-off Egoista – based on a Gallardo, it’s a single-seater with fighter jet-inspired aesthetics. The looks are, er, challenging. And there’s no clue as to how to enter or exit with any semblance of grace…

The other is the Veneno. It’s not unique like the Egoista; indeed, they’ll be positively commonplace on the roads, since frivolous Lamborghini built three of them. They have 740bhp and look terrifying.

SEAT Leon Cup Racer

Image of Seat Leon Cupra racing

This is a hell of a way to launch a new car. With the freshly-revamped Leon hitting the showrooms, Seat built a full-on race car variant and wheeled it along to various shows around the world. It’s got 330bhp, a sequential gearbox, race suspension, slicks, and a massive rollcage.

It’s not a one-off either, you can buy one - it costs between £75-95,000, which may seem a lot for a Golf-sized hatchback, but really isn’t a lot for a full-blown race car. And it looks sensational.

Eagle Low Drag GT

Image of Eagle Low Drag

Eagle is great at making old-school E-Types with modern mechanicals. You may be familiar with their Speedster that was all over the place a little while back.

Well, for 2013 it was all about the Low Drag GT. Each one takes 6,000 hours to build; it’s basically an ultra-rare sixties GT racer that’s been modernised for reliable daily use – longer doors, lower floor, aircon, heated screens, long-range fuel tank.

Oh, and it’s a devastatingly effective supercar too. One of the icons of 2013.

Nismo IDx

Image of Nismo IDx

Every year sees countless concept cars, but this is arguably the coolest of recent times.

Leaping on the nu-retro bandwagon, Nissan resurrected the boxy cool of the old Datsun 510 saloon with the IDx concept. And the Nismo variant – Nismo being their tuning and motorsport division – just looks ace. It’s got floating C-pillars, chequerplate floors, side-exit exhausts, and period '70s livery. A corker.

NART Spyder

Image of NART Spyder

Back in August, a 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 S Nart Spyder became the most expensive road-going car ever sold at auction.

The hammer price was a frankly bonkers $27.5m (£17.6m to you), the high bidder being Lawrence Stroll – the billionaire behind the Tommy Hilfiger brand.

The proceeds went to charity though - it’s not all frivolous spending and cynical investment in the blue chip classic car world.

Project 7

Image of Jaguar Project 7

Jaguar’s Project 7 was a barmy, one-off road-racer created to feed into the buzz around the jazzy new F-Type. Debuting at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, it showed off a retro D-Type-inspired tailfin, a helmet-shelf in place of a passenger seat, and lashings of fancy detail.

But the real hook was the noise – crank the volume up, and weep at the climactic, aural beauty of it all.

Peugeot 208 T16

Image of Peugeot 208 T16

This was easily the most phenomenal and staggering motorsport story of the year. Screwed together in a matter of months by a secret in-house skunkworks division, the 208 T16 was a devastating silhouette racer built solely to tackle the revered Pikes Peak hillclimb.

If you know your hillclimb history, you’ll be familiar with the Climb Dance video – Ari Vatanen breaking records at the Peak in 1988 in a 405 T16. The 208 project evoked the spirit of that with alacrity - and in doing so managed to beat the previous event record by a gob-smacking 93 seconds. An unprecedented achievement, bordering on the ridiculous. Look!

Oh, sorry… we didn’t get time to mention the Dacia Duster Black Edition. Maybe next time…