December, and time to look back on the year that was - and the cars that stood out
January featured the Fiat 500C, a funky little drop-top that proved a hit with my partner's mum when on an afternoon cruise we dropped the roof, connected my phone to the car, then couldn't find the volume and blew our eardrums calling her boy. All he heard was giggles; not sure I've been forgiven for introducing her to frivolous motoring.
February, and an Alpine crossing in BMW's scorching M3 sedan in sub-zero temperatures. That car had never been driven with such care.
Then the Ferrari factory in Maranello, Italy, where I collected a 458 and hurled it recklessly about the snowy countryside - only to be called a wuss on my return for 'only' touching 200kph - between snow-banks. Bet they'd have called it something else had I crashed...
March, and Toyota's diminutive iQ, a Signature Class official used import designed to ease congestion in crowded European and Asian cities and ludicrously small next to the 1.7-litre Kawasaki Vulcan cruiser also parked in my garage.
Next came a weekend with Ferrari's California, treating it like just any other car. That meant collecting coiled roof flashing to test the boot; the supermarket shopping run; and getting it up my goat track of a drive. No Ferrari's an everyday car, but this one comes closest.
April's most notable for the Iceland volcano canceling an Audi racetrack fang in Spain, and May for my tipping my man out the car door and leaving him in the dark... Well, he did want to hear what a Nissan 370Z sounds like at full noise, and we were on the sort of demanding road that requires commitment just to reach the speed limit. Trouble is, I couldn't spot him on the return trip so had a few rapid goes each way before he reappeared in the headlights.
June brought VW's Scirocco R - which looks like a show concept, and drives like a sedate runabout until you choose dynamic mode for instant attitude and the best of both worlds.
July, and watching polar bears on TV in the Jaguar XJ while drought-blasted Australian dirt whizzed by the windows - and the driver interrupted my view by fiddling with the touch-screen satnav. He could see only the utilities screens, forgetting that from my passenger seat I had a different view.
Winter germs made August a damp squib but September saw Subaru's latest Impreza WRX - fantastic bang for buck and almost as quick as the STI in real-world conditions and with real-world drivers.
October heralded real-world with a vengeance as I gently punted a Toyota Camry hybrid to best-in-class for the EnergyWise fuel economy rally, the only hybrid to beat its claim, which required adjustments to conventional fuel-frugal driving style.
November meant driving 60 cars back-to-back as a judge at the AA Motoring Excellence awards and the launch of Nissan's Micra, the first affordable car to remind you of your wedding anniversary or wish you happy birthday.
December, and Santa's elves tucked a 3.5-litre V6 under Toyota's Corolla bonnet, tuned the suspension to suit and rebadged it 'Blade'. Scorching in a straight line but allergic to corners, it provided a memorable end to the year - if not as glamorous as its start.
Next year? More cars to try. I can't wait.