Next year will see the arrival of the Fiesta ST, Yaris GRMN, Polo GTI and hopefully more to the UK, and I for one can't wait. These supermini hot hatches have arguably usurped the large C-segment stuff as the 'true' hot hatches, offering more accessible price and performance packages. They're also tremendous fun, as proven by the previous ST and our current favourite, the Peugeot Sport 208 GTI. Hopefully this new breed can improve the genre yet further (don't forget there's a Clio to consider as well), and a mega group test of as many as we can collect is a tantalising prospect. Bring it on!
There are the races - N24, Le Mans, Le Mans Classic - the shows, all of the Goodwoods and a ton of Sunday Services. Car wise we have the both the Valkyrie and new Vantage from Aston Martin, McLaren's road going Senna tribute, the new RS4 Avant and M5, the new Megane RS, Leon Cupra R and i30N, the Up! GTI and plenty more we don't even know about yet!
2017 was the year of Nurburgring lap records; every other week a new car was breaking something obscure somewhere. You can bet your cotton socks this isn't going to change in 2018, and with this hotter 488 hopefully to be revealed early next year the Porsche 911 GT2 RS and Lamborghini Huracan Performante will have some serious competition. The name hasn't been confirmed yet and the car probably won't be given it after what we have seen with previous models in the Ferrari lineup. This 488 though can still be considered the replacement for the 458 Speciale, said to have around 700hp and weigh less than 1,400kg - putting it in much the same realm as its aforementioned rivals. Ferrari probably won't take it around the Ring, so we just have to make do with a Fiorano lap and the 'cavallino rampante' can rule its roost once again. Could this be the supercar showdown of 2018?
The next couple of years are likely to make it - at best - extremely turbulent for any car maker who calls the UK home. But you'd hardly know it to look at them. Aston Martin is on the first step of its most ambitious product launch programme ever. McLaren is building some of the most expensive (and dare we say, best) cars in the world, and isn't slowing for a second. Come the spring, Bentley will have exactly what it needs to thrive internationally. Rolls-Royce, too. Lotus appears to be exiting its long-term slump at a rate of knots. Caterham, Ariel and Morgan all have bulging order books. Even JLR, weighed down by the implications of being a volume manufacturer, has succeeded (by and large) with fleshing out its ambitions with an extremely appealing (and prudent) product lineup across both brands. Nothing is guaranteed of course in the current climate - but it's hard to see how Britain's homegrown car industry could be better insulated from what may be coming down the line.
We're living through one of the most exciting times in the motoring industry, with alternative power sources and communications equipment bringing cleaner, more automated journeys tantalisingly closer and closer. And some of the outcomes provided by these, we're not going to like. But I remain cheerful precisely because of sites like PistonHeads, plus owners' forums, clubs, racing series, even online racing games. Cars were conceived as tools: a way to get us somewhere more quickly. But they touch our lives in a way that most utilities simply do not: not just of the people using them, but the people who design and engineer them, too. Whatever happens in the wider industry, we'll never be forgotten.
2018 will mark my 20th anniversary of writing about cars professionally. One of the few constants over that time has been the frequency of the stories I've penned about things going wrong at Lotus, the company where every up seems to be followed by a bigger down. Hethel has always had a thing for inappropriate partners, from the abusive to the merely neglectful, and the fact the company has managed to survive for as long as it has is some kind of miracle.
Geely's takeover, as part of the same deal that saw the Chinese carmaker acquire Lotus's former parent Proton, could well turn out to be another damp squib. But I'm hoping otherwise: Geely's senior management is smart enough to know that they have bought something special at a bargain price, and to recognise that - despite years of low sales - Lotus remains one of the great performance brands. New product should follow soon, from the necessary evil of an SUV to a new architecture for next-generation sports cars. Look at what McLaren Automotive has done in five years for an indication of where a Lotus product renaissance could take it.