In 2017 we've seen a new 640hp V10 Lamborghini launched, a 700hp rear-wheel drive Porsche, some stellar hot hatches and fantastic British sports cars. From what we've seen of 2018's models, there's every reason to be encouraged about the upcoming 12 months too.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves though; here is PH's 2017 Road Test of the Year, where Google Analytics helps us to decipher what you have wanted to read about most since January. Of course it's not an exact science (as cars are launched at different times), but with page views used to compile the top 10 - those with the most at the top of the table, those with the least in the relegation spots - it's about as impartial as it gets.
Speaking of which, there are some huge names missing from the 2017 road test retrospective. Both reviews of the new GT3, for example, plus the McLaren 720S, Lamborghini Aventador S, Range Rover Velar and AMG GT R. Enough of the losers, though; here are the top 10 most read PH roadtests of 2017.
Never let it be said that we don't like a fast estate on PistonHeads! The top 10 is kicked off with Andrew Frankel's review of the Alpina B5; with an M5 Touring looking very unlikely, this 600hp V8 wagon is the next best thing. Perhaps a better thing, going off what was said: "borderline miraculous" being his verdict on the Alpina's dynamics. Combine that with the style and performance we already know Alpina for, and it's not hard to see the appeal. It would seem you agree, the Alpina kicking out some supposedly bigger drives to get 10th spot.
Well there had to be a Porsche in here somewhere, didn't there? Interestingly however it's not the GT3's return, nor even the GT3 manual's return, but instead the GT2 RS. More expensive and faster than the GT3, it attracted even more views than those cars despite arriving much later in the year.
Matt Prior said this particular 911 "has a better matched engine and chassis than anything GT2-ish that has come before it", a reflection on its more approachable and exploitable nature compared to previous madcap 911s. With performance comparable to a 918 Spyder, but all the usability of a regular Carrera, the GT2 RS is one hell of an achievement. It's the only Porsche to feature in this list, too...
Porsche beaten by Mini! Yes, you read that right, the David Brown Automotive review attracted a greater number of views than the flagship 911. The Mini has been out for many weeks longer, yes, but that's still some result.
It's probably fair to say some of the views are through shock and incredulity, the prospect of a £100K Mini a little hard to take for some PH readers. While different in execution to the original, the DBA did at least stay true to dynamic appeal of the Mini, Erin Baker describing it as "an absolute laugh." Amazingly this Mini is the third most expensive car in the top 10, costing more than the Alpina and only cheaper than the GT2 RS and another very special supercar, which features soon...
Yes, we couldn't believe it either. But the Audi RS4, having only been published on December 12th, has made a shock last minute appearance at seventh on our list. Storming in late like a Christmas chart smash (or seventh-placed smash, rather), the RS4 proved PistonHeads really can't get enough of very fast and very practical cars.
On first experience the RS4 appears to be another successful addition to the Audi Sport line up, combining pace and quattro traction with some fleet-footed dynamics. And doesn't it look great?
The RS4 doesn't even arrive in the UK until January, but we'd expect 2018 to be a very busy year for it on PH. And when you see what else features in this list, it would take a brave soul to bet against any future RS4 coverage being included in this list next year - let's wait and see!
Here we go then, a bonafide supercar in the most-read list amongst the estates, hot hatches and that bloody Mini. The Ford GT offered a no-compromise, all encompassing and totally exhilarating supercar experience unlike any we have seen for a very long time. Matt Prior described it as "a brilliant, flawed, compromised, wonderful, capable, fabulous thing", with "sensational" balance and poise - some praise indeed.
UK buyers may still have to wait a little longer for their GTs to arrive, but it sounds like they are in for an incredible experience when they do get here. Certainly we know that the PistonHeads interest in the GT isn't going away anytime soon!
You knew it was going to feature in here somewhere, didn't you? Love it or loathe it, the Honda Civic Type R is a car that you just couldn't help but take an interest in. Remember that two years ago, when the fast Civic finally returned, it was the second most viewed road test of 2015. So, if anything, fifth is a bit of an underachievement...
This could be an even more impressive car though. Because beyond the styling, beyond the Nurburgring hoo-ha and beyond the image, this is a staggeringly good hot hatch to drive. Everything we loved about the previous car has remained, with its problems addressed and rectified. And even despite limited opposition at the moment, it will take something truly exceptional from Hyundai, Renault or Ford in 2018 to surpass the Civic.
Some of you will remember that tuned cars tend to do rather well in these kind of reviews, the Cosworth GT86 having ranked at number one in 2015. So to see Litchfield's reworking of an R35 - marking its two decades of fettling with all things GT-R related - feature so highly should come as no surprise.
It was some car too, power up to 675hp but the real gains coming dynamically: Litchfield installed Alcon brakes, completely reworked Bilstein dampers, stiffer springs and an extensive geometry overhaul. The result was described as "quite the machine", combining the "flow and authority" of its ride with acceleration "that leaves you feeling a little punch drunk" for what must be one of the best tuned GT-Rs ever. Wonder what Litchfield will come up with next?
Well this seems a bit strange. The Giulia Quadrifoglio, that M3-scaring 500hp flagship of the new Giulia range, didn't feature in 2016's list of the most-read tests. And yet the far tamer Veloce, the 280hp four-cylinder version, takes a podium place in 2017. Bizarre.
PH did get one of the very first drives of the car, which may have helped its cause, and at something like half the price of a Quadrifoglio it's considerably more accessible. It's no poor relation either, the review describing the Veloce as "the canny choice" from the regular Giulia range and "good enough to compete with the best in its class." Bear in mind this positivity came from driving the Q4 European Veloce too - the cars in the UK will be rear-drive only, and it's something we can't wait to drive in 2018.
Remember what we said about the RS4? Here's your proof! Regardless of what people say, the numbers show that there's no denying the popularity of an Audi Sport product. Especially when it's Sonoma Green...
Despite the cynicism - some things never change, do they? - there was a good deal to like about the RS5. Of course it looked smart and went well, but there was also some dynamic class present as well. Its problem? The quality of rivals it faces, with both M4 and C63 offering formidable competition. And the ride on our test car felt especially unforgiving.
Do you think that will influence any buying decisions? No, us neither. Imagine how many reads an RS5 Cabriolet might attract in a road test round up of 2018. Perish the thought...
Couldn't make it up, could you? There's an irony in a car that's actually quite unassuming generating so much comment and discussion, the Golf R seemingly as much of a talking point now as it was on introduction three years ago. The fact that this year's drive, simply a review of the mildly facelifted car, is still the most read on PH in 2017, shows just how much interest continues to surround it.
The car? Still as broadly talented as it was before, now with a fancier interior and the option of a Performance Pack should you fancy it. No need to mess with the formula when it's still so popular, is there? It remains exceptionally capable, quick and assured and a world away from how R-badged Golfs once were. And while our preference is still for the lighter, more agile front-wheel drive GTIs, there's no denying the popularity of the bloomin Golf R - it's your most read road test of 2017.