Drive of the year - our highlights behind the wheel in 2017

From Kent to Sussex. Storming the Mille Miglia. Essex to Nürburgring. All these feature in our best driving moments of the year.

Sometimes everything just gels. It might be a car, a road, a mood or just a lack of traffic, but every now and then we’re privileged enough to have a glorious standout drive, the sort of trip that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and one which you inevitably bore your colleagues to death about afterwards. These are our driving moments of the year. 

Driver of the year - the drivers that did it best in 2017

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Caterham Seven 310R on a summer evening

James Disdale, Road test editor

There are so many, but a late summer evening dash home in a Caterham Seven 310R sticks in the mind. I swapped into the Seven at evo’s offices after a long drive south at the conclusion of our first Supertest. After endless motorway monotony in the Mercedes-AMG C63 S, the mix of telepathically connected Caterham, glorious twilight and near empty A and B roads came as a hugely refreshing tonic. It once again rammed home the point that no car rewards quite as much as a Seven. Glorious.

Driving historic rotory heroes 

Antony Ingram, Staff writer 

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Just a couple of days into October I had my first ever drive in a rotary-engined car. Six of them, in fact, thanks to a road trip from Dartford to Goodwood in Mazda UK’s heritage fleet. Two cars in particular made an impact. The first was a 1972 RX-3, hopped-up with a 12A from an early RX-7 and a gearbox to match. Probably the angriest, most responsive powertrain I’ve ever used, and I’ve never experienced a better gearshift. The other was a 2002 RX-7 Bathurst, which ticked yet another Gran Turismo icon (following drives in an NSX and R34 Skyline GT-R) off my bucket list.

Driving a McLaren 720S on the Mille Miglia

Adam Towler, Deputy editor 

As memorable as the 911 GT2 RS drive in rural Portugal was, it has to be driving McLaren’s extraordinary 720 S back home from Italy via sections of the Mille Miglia route. Two things from many special moments stand out: one, the visceral sense of raw power when the car was fully uncorked on a narrow, twisting Italian mountain road. And two, mingling with the Ferrari owners, workers and Maranello locals, all of whom seemed genuinely interested in the McLaren like only real car nuts tend to be.

Driving the new Lexus LC500 to its limits

Will Beaumont, Staff writer

Riding as passenger with Bernd Schneider around Silverstone in a Mercedes-AMG GT3 was very special. He pitted after just one lap, I was so disappointed right up until he said ‘Don’t get out, we’re changing to slicks.’ To warm-up the fresh tyres he performed the perfect slide on the narrow pit exit. But even better than that – I prefer driving to being a passenger – was a dark evening on familiar roads in the Lexus LC500. It turned from sophisticated GT into a total hooligan in just one corner.

BMW M4 CS to the N24

Stuart Gallagher, Editor 

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There are some journeys that can define a car and raise it well above your expectations. BMW’s updated M4 Comp Pack did just that over one weekend in May when I drove it to the N24 to watch the race and drive the new M4 CS. Previously the M4s I’d driven had been unpredictable towards the limit with more power than they could comfortably deal with, but not the MY17 car. On the roads around the Ring it flowed, gripped, performed and thrilled like no other M4 I’d driven before, its chassis engaged, chatty and more capable than ever. 

Its autobahn ability was proved on the way home as it strode up to its limiter and rolled along at an indicated 165mph until the tank ran dry. At these speeds gentle motorway curves become corners that require confidence and precision, and while Germany has many thousands of miles of perfectly surfaced autobahn it also has some pretty rotten stuff, too, but the M4 didn’t care. It just got on with it, delivering exactly what it was designed to do without breaking into a sweat. Many cars could have completed the same journey, but few would have changed my opinion of them as much as the M4 did.

Review of the Year 2017 

Our favourite cars of 2017 - the new cars we loved most> Drive of the year - our highlights behind the wheel in 2017> Car news stories of the year - our pick of 2017's automotive newsDriver of the year - the drivers that did it best in 2017Motorsport moment of the year - 2017's best track and rally stage actionevo advent calendar - best car pictures of the year 2017evo car quiz 2017 - our mega car quiz of the year

Subscribe to evo now for more on the thrill of driving in 2018... 

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