- Reuters / Paul Childs
Jeremy Clarkson is no stranger to controversial statements.
Over the years he’s offended everyone from truck drivers to the British Prime Minister.
The former host of the BBC’s “Top Gear” is also a long-time automotive journalist and reviewer, with more than three-decades worth of experience.
Suffice to say, when Clarkson speaks, people listen.
In August, Clarkson revealed the cars he loved driving the most over the past year, through his weekly column in the Sunday Times.
His top 10 ranges from diesel SUVs to high-powered supercars. According to the bombastic TV personality, each of the cars he selected was able to stand out above the fray by making the driver “feel special” every time he or she climbs inside.
“A car must have something to elevate it from the norm. It may be speed, or cleverness, or the fizz, or styling to die for,” The host of Amazon Prime’s “The Grand Tour” wrote in his column.
“But there must be something. Something that makes you excited every time you climb inside. Because if it doesn’t, then it’s just a tool. And if it’s just a tool, you may as well use the bus.”
Here’s a closer look at a selection of Jeremy Clarkson’s favorite cars from the past year.
Ferrari 488 GTB
- Hollis Johnson
The latest generation mid-engined supercar to emerge from Ferrari is the 488 GTB. And it’s about as good as it gets.
“As a driving machine, it’s – there’s no other word – perfect,” Clarkson wrote in his review.
The TV host loved the 488’s thoroughbred racing technology, melodic engine note, and docile driving dynamics.
“When you drive a Ferrari 488 GTB round a corner on a racetrack, it doesn’t feel like a tool that you’re operating. Or even a comfy, well-fitting glove. It feels like an extension of your very self,” he added.
The Ferrari 488 GTB received a total of four out of a possible five stars from Clarkson.
- Matthew DeBord/BI
In his review, Clarkson praised the all-new Mazda MX-5 for its joyful personality and driving dynamics. In fact, the Mazda proved to be so wonderfully lovable that Clarkson compared it to a cure for depression.
“The new one is better than ever. Because it’s so organic and raw and simple, it feels how a sports car should. It sings and fizzes and jumps about. It always feels eager and sprightly, and that makes you feel eager and sprightly too,” he wrote.
Clarkson gave the MX-5 a full five stars.
Vauxhall Zafira Tourer
Your eyes have not deceived you. A Vauxhall Zafira Tourer with a diesel engine is one of Jeremy Clarkson’s favorite cars.
(For those of us in the US, the Zafira is a small MPV/van produced in Germany by GM’s European Division.)
Clarkson was impressed by the Zafira’s strong turbo-diesel engine, good efficiency, and well-executed interior. But most of all, Clarkson was simply blown away by the Zafira’s comfortable ride.
“And then I went over a speed hump and I simply didn’t feel a thing. Never in all my years in this business have I encountered any car – including the Rolls-Royce Phantom – that’s quite so good at refusing to transmit road surface irregularities into the cabin,” he wrote in his review.
Naturally the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer received a full five stars from Clarkson.
- Hollis Johnson
Jeremy Clarkson has long been a fan of the first generation Volvo XC90. He’s owned four of them over the past decade. In fact, his most recent XC90 purchase occurred right before Volvo launched the new second generation model.
That’s because Clarkson was skeptical of whether Volvo’s new Chinese owners could really produce a worthy successor.
However, he was soon won over by the new XC90. Clarkson singled out the Volvo’s “whisper quiet” diesel engine for praise. (US buyers get a gasoline version of the stellar Drive-E four-cylinder unit.)
The XC90’s well appointed, stylish, spacious interior also drew praise.
“The dials, the textures, the air-cooled subwoofer and the sheer design of everything is absolutely wonderful,” Clarkson wrote in his review.
Overall, Clarkson gave the new second generation Volvo XC90 four out of five stars.
Ford Mustang GT V8
While there are many in automotive press that will gladly call the new Ford Mustang a sports car, don’t count Clarkson as one of them. With that said, the pony car remains one of his favorites.
“It’s billed as a sports car… It just isn’t. It’s too heavy. What it is, is a muscle car,” Clarkson wrote in his review.
At the end of the day, Clarkson loves the Mustang for its V8 power, great value for money, and the fact it reminds him of Steve McQueen.
“If I were to sum it up as a car, I’d give it four stars, because a big V8 coupé for £36,000 (or about $33,000 in the US) is remarkable,” he wrote.