Top Gayer Awards 2011



2011 has been quite a year for the automotive industry; we’ve seen some pretty impressive models launched and (super lucky for us) had the pleasure of driving them too!

And so… in true flare we present to you our best of the best in the Top Gayer Awards 2011…



We love a hatchback here at Top Gayer, just the thought of a compact, sporty little run-around takes us all back to our younger days, the cruise, the chase, the car parks… those were the days… and where there were some very strong contenders this year, for us the best in show has to be the Vauxhaul Astra Eco Flex. A pleasure to drive and with more lights on the dash then a nightclub the Astra Eco Flex is a boys wet dream. 






Our choice for city car of the year was an easy one, the KIA Picanto. This little super-mini is perfect for city living, 5 door, spacious and still as cute as ever, KIA have impressed and with the top-end model at under 8K the Picanto is an absolute bargain!







The Toyota Yaris is a lovely car, that’s the best word to describe it, it’s just lovely. We were very impressed with the 2011 Yaris, it is without doubt not only one of Toyota's best sellers, but also one of the most fun super-mini's on the market, and it’s just become our favourite super-mini to boot. With its new bigger bulkier frame it's not just the Yaris body that's grown, so has its appeal and the audience to which it's aimed at.  The new Yaris on test was amazing! With more acres of airy space inside than Jodie Marsh's head and containing far less plastic - the Yaris is our top choice for 2011.





This year’s best Saloon has to be the Volvo S60R, why? I hear you ask, well quite simply because it’s the best. We were very excited about this car coming through – dramatically smooth lines, excellent performance and a pretty impressive interior makes the S60R the best all rounder for us and because it’s a Volvo you know that you could quite happily drive it through a wall and carry on un-scathed… (Please Note: Top Gayer and its partners neither recommend nor condone driving through walls, please don’t do it, its just silly) 






France… land of fine wines, gourmet food, landmark meccano and this year’s great estate car it would seem. I know, honestly we weren’t expecting it either but the 508 Estate from the clever beans at Peugeot just seems to have that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ that transforms an estate car from a boring oversized shopping bag to handcrafted Louis Vuitton luggage… we know which you’d prefer you brand aware monsters. Its’ a nice drive, good performance and handling, spacious with a nice interior. Cést Chic… Bravo Peugeot!






We know, we know… what are the chances of ever driving one of these? Let alone owning one… but come on… It’s just beautiful! Fortunately (for us anyway) earlier this year we were given one to test-drive by the wonderful people at Audi (I say test drive, it was more lived-in for a week). This is possibly our favourite Audi of 2011 because it was definitely the most memorable.  The powerhouse that is the RS5 is sheer driving pleasure and with looks to die for our winner this year deservers its title hands down.






They say big is beautiful, and they don’t come much bigger than the cars in this class, fortunately our winner this year is both. In April we were invited by Chevrolet to test drive the new Captivia in the beautiful surroundings of the Austrian Alps, and what a test-drive it turned out to be! Unlike many other 4X4’s the Captiva’s credentials hold out, its handling on surfaces as tough as Snow and Ice, its comfort and overall driving experience make the Chevrolet Captiva our best in show for 4X4 of the year. 






If there’s one thing we know all about its luxury, it may be stereotypical but more often than not the desire to own the best of everything is hardwired into us at birth. So as you can imagine this was a tough choice for us, this happens to be one of those categories with a lot of crossovers, e.g. the majority of performance cars are kitted out to the max inside as well as being beasts in the engine department, so how do we judge? Well luckily an acute ability to judge is also something that comes built-in to the average gay man, so in the end we simply decided to choose the model which we could happily live in if needed to. This makes our choice a lot easier as the winner is nothing short of spectacularly gorgeous inside and out, with more gadgets, gizmos and impressive little extras than you can shake a stick at. In 2011 we’ve found the AUDI A7 unbeatable in its class.  






This Year Top Gayer went all green (in a non-clashy way) for a series of reviews on the latest eco-friendly cars to hit our shores. Now… admittedly some of our test-drives in this category had at best, ‘shaky’ green credentials, that’s not to say that they weren’t nice cars because many were. But, because we at Top Gayer love mother Earth we felt it only fair to pick the car best suited to preserving our planet for the generations of gays to come… So our winner this year has to be the Volvo C30 DRIVe, Ultra low emissions, 74.3MPG on a combined cycle and start-stop as standard.  Most importantly, the C30 DRIVe performs as a normal hatch too, making eco fun with the reliability and safety of Volvo making the C30 DRIVe our favourite Eco of 2011.






The pulling power award goes to the car that we think gives our readers the edge when towing other cars… not really, obviously this award is all about impressing other people, namely those you would like to get to know better… We think that anyone would find it hard to resist you if you were driving this sexy beast, which is no doubt what they’ll call you when you’re spotted cruising around town in the CLS, everything about it just oozes sex appeal, there may be more expensive status symbols out there but honestly… you can keep your Continental and your Phantom, this is the one for us.






Another special award from the Top Gayer team is the “GRRR” award, now what exactly is “GRRR” I hear you ask, well, quite simply it’s the feeling of power and control you get when you slip into the driving seat of something special and for us this year it’s the Infinity FX, this beautiful SUV creates the perfect balance of a high performance and luxury SUV with lavish lashings of “GRRR” that only an Infinity can instil. GRRR… just GRRR!







Finally we come to our ultimate favourite car of 2011 and the winner needs little introduction, the overall experience of driving the Mercedes CLS is unbeaten by any other car of 2011. It is quite simply the best car we’ve had the pleasure of hosting, an unmatched perfect blend of super-fine luxury, performance and beauty, the CLS has rolled off a German production line and into our hearts. Mercedes really have out done themselves with this excellent example of top-notch craftsmanship and engineering, from the second you glide into the CLS (you must glide into this car, nothing less will do) you feel at home and at one with your car. An extensive and highly impressive extras list makes the CLS something rather special. Visually it’s stunning, each line and curve blends seamlessly, not an awkward angle in sight, it’s sure to impress anyone who sees (or is lucky enough) to ride in this beautiful creation. Now we at Top Gayer would never encourage our readers to make reckless purchase decisions… let’s face it you probably don’t need encouraging anyway, but if you want to go top of the range and have a spare £120,000 knocking about then go… buy it… buy it now! Then call us, because we are at your command you sexy beast!!

Easy Audi…

Audi have revealed a new Sportback version of the A1 with 5 doors!

And? I hear you cry… well it’s actually quite an achievement. Featuring “Full five-seat capability and a slight increase in head and shoulder room” and all of this despite an “identical exterior footprint” which is essentially like gouging more out of the inside a pumpkin just to cram another candle in there, or in this case two more doors and a little more headroom. It all makes perfect sense if you think about it.

Oh I almost forgot, the roof can be painted a contrasting colour – a Sportback exclusive…

That’s about it really, apart from that it’s an Audi A1. Just £560 more expensive.

Thanks Audi.


Back in the Driving Seat

Happy Independence Day and a final farewell to America! today we are taking down the red white and blue bunting and going back to normality here in the UK a big thanks once again to Mazda for letting us take the CX-9 and the lovely people we ment throughout our journey, a special mention for Linda and her Lesbians :)


But it's time to catch-up on some stories that we didn't cover because we weren't here...


First up it's Renault and the announcements of such cars like the Fluence Z.E.  We covered the Z.E. range including concept ZOE at Paris last year and the Fluence was definitely one to watch.  Well Renault have announced Prices for the electric saloon and it seems a lot more affordable than the Mitsubishi iMiev we currently have sat on the drive... and does 40 more miles to a full charge too.

From a mere £20 pre-order deposit (non-refundable) you can reserve a Fluence that will set you back just £17,850 after receiving the government incentive of £5,000.  However Renault are leasing rather than selling the battery at a cost of £75 a month (based on 6,000 miles a year on a three year agreement) making the buying process of the Fluence a rather confusing one.  More details here


Next up, quite clearly to compete with our 4,000 mile trip across America, Jaguar took one of it's new 2.2 diesel XF's and managed 816 miles over 4 countries, using just one tank of fuel!  Very impressive Jaguar!  Averaging 57mpg the XF drove across motorways, country bends and urban traffic to achieve an accurate and fair test... lovely.




Audi made a lot of noise at Elton's recent bash by putting a chrome R8 Spyder up for auction.  Raising money for the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the mirrored monster fetched a tidy sum of £620,000.





Jeep next and a lot of noise seems to have been made about the new Grand Cherokee.  I haven't seen any official press releases, but my inbox is swamped with pictures of the sexy new car.  So one assumed it's officially launched and on sale - plus if it's anything like the US spec Cherokee, otherwise known as the Laredo, it will be very nice indeed.




Finally, last but by no means least whatsoever is the news that MINI are doing the concept coupé.  From only £16,650 OTR, the new MINI Coupé is the fifth model to join the range - featuring four engines from launch and only two seats!  Although described to me during it's concept phases as looking like a baseball cap, I (Marcus) think the new coupé looks great and will be thinking of any excuse to jump in one early and see how it drives.




So that's just a few highlights from the past three/four weeks but I will no doubt pick-up a few more stories over the next week or so, plus take a deeper look into the MINI Coupé and the topic of electric vehicles, focusing on the little Mitsubishi iMiev we are currently bobbing about town in.

Audi Announce Q3 Pricing Ready for Launch

Order books for Audi's latest 'Q', the Q3, are set to open June this year with deliveries just in time for the winter weather from November.  So what could make the small compact SUV city crossover more attractive...?

A very attractive price of £24,560, generously equipped across the range.


So most importantly for any Audi is the power keg under the bonnet, ranging from 140PS to 211PS the Q3 features Audi's 2.0l TFSI and TDI engines - including start-stop technology and energy recuperation in all.

Moving onto specification and as mentioned earlier the Q3 is packed with standard equipment, from Audi's music interface to a retractable 6" display the Q3 is full of tech.  Bluetooth preparation and Voice dialogue also feature across the 8 speaker sound system, while headlights, windscreen wipers and Dual zone climate control are all automated for your comfort.

Exterior highlights include aluminium roof rails and trim surrounding the windows, with two tone contrasting metallic finishes and front fog lights.  This theme is carried into the cabin with aluminium door sills and a stainless steel luggage sill and monochromatic touches within the drivers information display and inlays.

The S-line of course gets upgraded features, including 18" alloys and Xenon headlights with LED runners and rear tail lights.  Throw in some sports seats and lower the sports suspension 20mm and the Q3 will no doubt look mean, but not as mean as an inevitable RS, convertible and sportback version.

Audi's Worst Kept Secret - The Q3

Audi has finally released the information on the badly kept secret that is the Q3.  A compact SUV making it's debut at Shanghai Motorshow, the Q3 is said to look just at home amongst the city walls as it would scaling hills and fields.

Increased ground clearance and Quattro all wheel drive systems make the third model to be introduced into the 'Q' family of cars carry the same luxury and experience of driving an Audi SUV - just in a smaller shell.

Engines will all include start-stop technology offering the choice of two 2.0l petrol engines and a 2.0l TDI all reaching impressive mpg, however not as impressive as the efficiency focused 2.0l TDI reaching a high 54mpg.

Priced from around £25k this Audi Q-car is a nice introduction to becoming an Audi SUV owner and will be sure to offer everything Audi include throughout their range.

Parkers' New Car Awards

Being as I keep seeing press release after press release from each manufacturer about 'who won what' in Parkers' New Car Awards, I thought I'd put together an overview of the winners. Parkers judge their cars as follows:

- All winners based on cars with the best running costs

- Costs include depreciation through to road tax and fuel

- 11 separate category winners with one overall winner

"The Parkers' New Car Awards are unique. Rather than being based on the performance of the car or solely on the opinion of the Parkers team, our winners are all founded on robust scientific facts and figures taken from the Parkers Cost of Motoring tool in order to determine the cars that make your cash go further. Our Cost of Motoring tool reveals the total cost of buying a car. This includes everything from depreciation, services and repairs, road tax costs, any loan the buyer may have taken out for the car, the price of insurance and even breakdown cover." (taken from


City Car - Renault Twingo 1.2 Bizu 3dr

Small Hatchback - Audi A1 1.6TDI SE

Medium Hatchback - Kia cee'd 1.4 VR-7

Family Car - Skoda Octavia 1.2 TSi S

People Carrier - Ford Focus C-Max 1.6 TDCi Titanium

Family Estate - Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer 2.0CDTi (160) ecoFlex Exclusiv

Crossover - MINI Countryman One 1.6D

Eco Car - Honda Jazz 1.3 IMA HE Hybrid CVT

4X4 - Land Rover Freelander 2.2 TD4S

Sports Car - VW Scirocco 1.4 TSI 122

Executive Car - BMW 520d SE Business Media saloon

Overall Winner - Kia cee'd 1.4 VR-7

Audi Gives A3 a Boot.

I'm not saying they've all crowded round and kicked the alloys but Audi have designed an all new A3 saloon(claiming it's a concept but it's too true to form for it not to be made), one imagines to compete with the likes of the 1 series coupé - but Audi have kept it as a 4-door as opposed to the BMW's 3-door body, fundamentally making it a small A4.

Last year was an exciting time for Audi, and it looks like this year's going to be much the same... (the way things are going it'll probably have a convertible, 4x4 'Q' derivative and a coupe version within the next week)