It was another sizzling year on the performance-car category of the AMI Insurance NZ Autocar Car of the Year - across a range of price points.
Honda surprised early on with its fun hybrid (yes, truly), the CR-Z, a little dart of a thing.
But Toyota kind of trumped everyone with its much hyped 86. The most exciting thing from Toyota in recent memory, the front-engined, rear-drive sportster redefined inexpensive sporting fun.
Also small and strictly twoseat only, Mini's kart-like Coupé scalded.
Heading upscale a little, BMW added a hot 2.0-litre turbo variant to the 1 Series lineup for Golf GTI money, and also debuted the tech-fest that is the new M5. It quickly became the fastest rear-drive car we'd ever tested, posting a 4.3-second 0-100 kmh run, only to be upstaged by the new 911 Carrera, which quite literally has us stunned – and then the much cheaper new Boxster proved equally impressive, if not better.
Also updated for 2012 were the Mercedes C63 AMG, Renault Mégane RS265 and a new SLK55 AMG from Mercedes.
Though we haven't yet driven it, the Focus ST will just make the cut-off date, and our breath is bated.
* Autocar and Stuff motoring readers also have a chance to choose their best vehicle and win a $500 Z card at the same time. Simply Click here to enter and you could win enough fuel to keep you motoring through summer.