DriveTribe's Official Big Fat Review of 2019: Part 1
Well, that was 2019 then. And what a year it was. We asked some of DriveTribe’s contributing journalists to share their experiences from the past 12 months: the good, the bad, the ugly and the… other stuff. Buckle in for a rollercoaster of recollections.
What was your best motoring experience of 2019 (on two or four wheels)?
Jon Quirk found a new admiration for rally drivers after a trip in a WRC car
Jon Quirk: motoring journalist and former editor of Auto Trader and Motor1.
“If you think you’re a good driver, try riding shotgun with a WRC driver, and think again. I was invited to take a rare glimpse into the world of M Sport’s Rally HQ and swung a leg into the passenger seat of a Ford Fiesta rally car. In just two minutes, I experienced the heart rate spike of a full bore, nose-into-space start, the sensation of flight and - on more than one occasion - had enough time to take in the view from the side window. I’ve spent the rest of this year contemplating how such concentration levels are maintained for a typical 30-mile WRC stage.”
Colin Goodwin: motoring journalist for over 30 years, started out at Car Magazine with a bloke called James May. Has written for most of the UK’s magazines and newspapers.
“Going to the Bike Shed bike festival at Lydden Hill on my LTT Royal Enfield. Watching full-dress Harleys racing with their stereos on was an unexpected joy. This was the first year this event has been held, but it’s now going to be the must-do event of the year for me.”
Kyle Fortune: freelance motoring journalist, has written for newspapers, magazines and websites including Motor1.com, Car Magazine and the Daily Telegraph.
“Driving a Porsche 917K up the hill at Goodwood. Twice. Along with the 935 Baby. Pinch-yourself stuff, legendary cars. I’m very, very lucky.”
Adam “Chad” Child: Yorkshire-born motorcycle journalist. Multiple UK record holder. Professional bike tester for 20 years and international road racer.
“This summer I was incredibly fortunate to be given the opportunity to ride a true Honda 250 two-stroke GP bike around the Isle of Man at the Classic TT. What an amazing bike, and what an experience: the best track in the world on an authentic two-stroke race bike.”
What was your favourite car/bike of 2019, and why?
Kurt Bradley: freelance automotive and motorsports photographer and test-driver based in the USA.
“The McLaren 720S Spider. It’s easily the best supercar on the market, especially for the price. Gobs of usable power, easy to thrash on any fun road or circuit, and stunning looks. Several well thought out features like the electrochromic roof, transparent buttresses for the speedster top, and a tiny rear window that can be lowered with the top up or down to allow that wonderful V8 to sing into your ears.”
Alex Kalogiannis: New York-based automotive writer and content producer.
“Tough call. If pressed to pick one, I’d have to say the Audi RS 5 Sportback. Its strata of sophistication conceals the car’s molten core of pure lunacy, meaning you can have a bonkers good time with it and still show up to work looking like a professional. This car is the adult I aspire to be one day.”
The humble Yamaha Tenere 700 gave Mossy the fizz
Chris Moss: freelance journalist who has been riding bikes and writing about them for over 30 years.
“Yamaha’s Tenere 700 is my 2019 top dog. I love challenging on/off-road adventures, and the Tenere copes brilliantly with such tasks. Adept in a broad variety of environments, the versatile 700 is cheap, sorted, and simple in design. I see it becoming a first choice for bone-fide adventurers.”
“Can I say van? I rolled around a big portion of 2019 in a Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo camper. A brilliant family machine, fun, useful, and sadly missed by everyone since it went back. If it’s cars, then it’s a toss up between the Porsche Taycan Turbo S and the Ginetta G58.”
Most disappointing car/bike of 2019?
I'm not sure whether we'd forgotten about this or just blanked it out
Alex Goy: freelance motoring journalist who writes for the likes of Carfection, CNET and DriveTribe.
“That Hyundai Kona Iron Man shameless tie-in thing was just the worst. In ten years, the few that remain will either be part of the most tragic owner’s club in the world, or will be given a £500 bump on their Auto Trader ads because it’s got a Marvel logo on it.”
Alex Robbins: road tester and motoring writer, has written about new, used and classic cars for What Car?, Autocar, The Daily Telegraph, PistonHeads and many others.
“The Nissan Leaf E+. Nissan had a head-start on electric vehicles, so this car should have been so much more than it was. On range it keeps up with the rest, rather than pushing out in front. It's far too expensive, unruly to drive, and feels bland and cramped inside. And its range can't match cheaper, better EVs. Get with the programme, Nissan, or risk being eclipsed by the car makers who were later to the party than you.”
New Jimny: not actually very good. Leon Poultney: "It drives like a bag of sh*t".
Leon Poultney: writer, driver, rider and lover of all things automotive. Writes for the likes of Wired, T3, Stuff, The Sun and DriveTribe.
“I wasn’t particularly enamoured with the Suzuki Jimny. Perhaps it was because every other journalist was busy freaking out about how amazing it was and how they were all going to buy one. In reality, it drives like a bag of sh*t, runs out of puff on anything faster than a 60mph B-road and threatens to get blown off course at the slightest hint of a side wind. Yep, it’s really good at the mud-plugging stuff, but my biggest concern was that large swathes of the buying public were going to read the hype, invest in one over any of the comfortable and excellent SUVs you can nab for the same money and be bitterly, bitterly disappointed.”
Big Willy B didn't really care for the McLaren GT
Will Beaumont: Used to work for Evo magazine, so if it has four wheels and an engine then there's a chance he's drifted it in front of a camera and then written about it.
“I didn’t really get on with the McLaren GT. Which is odd, as I usually get out of all McLarens wondering if selling my body would allow me to raise enough money to buy one. The answer is no, if you were wondering, and that’s why I haven’t prostituted myself yet.”
“The Lincoln Aviator was a hard miss for me. The ponderous SUV was rough in every way, which really caught me off guard given how satisfying my experiences in Lincoln’s Nautilus and Corsair had been.”
What was your scariest moment of 2019?
“Nearly hitting a tree at about 40mph on a Honda CEF450L while out trail riding in Surrey. I missed the tree but hit a log and flew into another county. I didn’t break anything but everything hurt for weeks. If I’d hit the tree I’d have been a goner.”
“I still have flashbacks to doing a 70mph overtake in a 300 SL Gullwing on the Mille Miglia in Italy and a car popped out of nowhere ahead of me. With 1950s brakes, I had to accelerate. It’s the closest I’ve ever been to dying in a car, and took a lot of blind luck gathering it all up, as it swung wildly all over the road after I just got into the right lane.”
Mossy on the Yamaha Niken, just before finding the limits of grip and ending up on his arse
“Silverstone’s Abbey is a speedy curve, especially when you’re on your arse. That’s where I ended up after diving off my Yamaha Niken. The fear came later though. Prior to the fall, the super grippy three-wheeler felt uncrashable. Since then, I get scary flashbacks whenever I’m trying really hard.”
“The first few miles of any journey in my newly-restored BMW 2002. Because it’s like-new, and I’ve put a lot of effort in making it like that, I am terrified of damaging it, wearing anything out and even dirtying it. It takes a little while for me to get over those feelings and truly relax.”
What was your scariest moment of 2019? Let us know in the comments!
We'll be publishing part 2 of the DriveTribe Official Big Fat Review (DOBFR) on Monday, once our hangover's cleared.