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!!

Kia Rio - Stylish as You Would Expect by Now

So ahead of Frankfurt sees all the manufacturers laying their cards on the table and trying to win the ultimate prize of attention from the various press and public.

Having teased us with conceptual sketches, Kia have unveiled the all-new Rio and following suit it's a massive improvement design-wise.  Four engines from launch and boasting the lowest emissions and highest economy in the UK market, the Rio has already got a headstart against the competiton and it's not even on the roads yet!

Starting at £10,595 the Rio is definately competition and one to watch...




...and here's a video for you to do just that!



Kia's Picanto Receives Great Reaction

Over the past couple of days, while we've been in Zurich testing the all new Aveo, we have heard nothing but good things about Kia's latest little car, the Picanto.  Earlier this year we blogged all about the new baby Kia and it's features, but last week a few lucky journo's popped over the water to the continent to put it through its paces, and based on what we heard, apparently it's been very well received.

Arriving back to the office this morning and I have seen a Kia press release all about the little city car and the UK specifications.

Five-door range starts from a mere £7,995 OTR from the 17th June this year, offered in two new Kia engines a 68hp 1.0-litre and an 84hp 1.25-lire increasing MPG and decreasing CO2, boasting Kia's efficient dynamics with Intelligent Stop & Go technology.

Specification sees the standard kit include electric windows, immobiliser, body coloured elements including bumpers and door handles and a 60:40 split folding rear seat.  Aside this the Picanto range is split between entry level '1' and '1 Air',  progressing to a mid-range '2' and finally a top spec '3' model.  Each level gains more standard equipment respectively, with LED running lights, automatic Air-con and even heated seats featuring within the top spec.

Overall it seems Kia have really pulled out all the stops with the little Picanto and I was gutted to have not been there for the launch but will definitely be chasing them for a demo from now.

Time 4 Kia to pro_cee'd

2011 sees the lovely pro_cee'd get a new face.  Introducing the pro_cee'd 4...

...Peter Schreyer has left his mark with his trademark grille and made the front a little more rounded.  Designed some rather sporty black bezeled headlights and finished it off with tinted windows.

Over the previous generations, the new hatch gets an improved 1.6 diesel engine with an extra 13 hp, reaching 122 hp, and 0-62mph in just over 10 seconds.

Sitting on 17" wheels, the pro_cee'd 4 gets integrated Sat-Nav and cruise control as standard, which hosts the screen for features like integrated reverse camera and bluetooth phone preparation.  Finishing off with leather and some heated seats brings some 'now-generation' tech to the pro_cee'd range.

Kia Unveil a Third EV Concept - Naimo

Kia seem very committed to the growing EV market and have unveiled a third concept today at the Seoul Motor Show.  Meet the Naimo, an electric Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV).

On first impression the Naimo looks boxy and typically Korean, but reading more about it - it's a lot more Korean than you might think.  Take the name for example, 'Naimo' inspired by the Korean word 'Ne-mo' (Neh-mo) meaning 'Square shape', a perfect descriptive for the new concept.  That's not all, the exterior design, from the lights the the wrap-around windscreen has all been inspired by the simple yet complex visuals in Korean art.

But stepping inside is where you really get the impact.  The door panels and floor are made from Korean Oak, while the headlining is made from Korean "Han-ji" paper, these elements are mixed with light emitting diode displays and full connectivity giving the Naimo a fusion between tradition and modernism.

There is no windscreen wiper, but actually a high powered wind jet to clear the rain and features 20 inch low-drag alloy wheels, equipped for efficiency in mind.

“Naimo is a perfect balance of innovation, high-tech and Korean tradition.  It was heavily inspired by the purity and grace of traditional Korean arts and crafts, but combines this with cutting edge technologies to deliver a truly premium experience,” commented Kia Motors’ Chief Design Officer, Peter Schreyer.

Naimo joins the EV range Kia are running current tests on, amongst various conditions.  Included in the fleet are not only EV's but hybrid and Fuel Cell technologies also, achieving zero or reduced emissions.

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

Kia and the new Rio

The second in the new car unveils for the Korean car manufacturer is the all new Rio.  A sure contender against the competition, definitely when it comes to looks if nothing else.

The Rio sees a redesigned interior and a general overhaul in substance as well as style.  The Rio also features 4 new engines ranging from a mere 70ps (69bhp) to 109ps (107bhp), which is unfortunate, as it would be nice to see some poke coming out of Kia's cars.  Looks don't get you everywhere and what's more is that the Auto option available with the 1.4 petrol (107bhp) is only a four speed.

Regardless of this of course, the new Rio comes equipped similar to that of the new Picanto.  The 'Big Car Comforts' in Rio include - Bluetooth handsfree, AUX and iPod compatibility and LED running lights to complete the look.

Bigger and better, the new Rio will be cruising the streets from September as its 5 door guise, with the 3 door model launching early 2012.

All New Kia Picanto - The Small Car, Grown Up.

Kia are making their presence known with the all new Picanto.  'The Small Car, Grown Up' is their marketing spin on the baby Kia, and based on previous models I can only agree.  Always having been a fan of the Picanto as a small budget car, the new generation looks like you'll be getting a lot more car for your money, which is exactly the idea behind it.

When the Picanto is released the little A-segment vehicle will be given both 3 and 5 door derivatives (a first for Kia) and produce just a smidgin of CO2 at 90g/km.  Many of the 'Big Car' elements are Automatic Air-con, Folding door mirrors - with indicators, retractable cup holders and Steering Wheel Mounted Audio Controls.

Running lights and some beautiful lines throughout the model make the new Picanto definitely one to watch when it's released later this year.

- - - -

“Our new Picanto is now a small car, grown-up,” comments Soon-Nam Lee, Director of Overseas Marketing, Kia Motors Corporation.  “It is such a complete car, such a high quality package, offering numerous premium features and multiple trim choices, that it will raise the fundamental perception of A-segment models to a higher level.

“We anticipate that global demand for A-segment cars will be in the region of 2.4-million units annually over the next six years and we are confident that new Picanto will enable us to capture a larger share of this market,” adds Mr Lee.

“The first generation Picanto marked our debut in the A-segment in 2004 and went on to achieve more than 1.1 million sales globally over the following seven years, with sales in the UK totalling 77,810.  I am sure that this new small Kia will become even more popular than the current vehicle,” concludes Mr Lee.

First Photos of New Kia Rio

We can now finally admire Schreyer's all new Kia Rio, and admiration is definitely due.

Once again the original sketches we posted not to long ago hinted toward a more Coupé-like, hot hatch style for Rio, and my first impressions did make me think of Citroen's new C4.  Either way it's yet another strong contender from the Korean giant that sees them competing in the markets that they were simply sat in previously.

Well done Kia...

KIA Continue Their Design Revolution

March 2011 will bring the Geneva motorshow, one of the biggest in the calendar, and a chance for manufacturers to showcase what they think will define motoring in 2011 through both design and technology.

KIA have given us a little sketch preview of their shining star of the show, the all new Rio.

Peter Schreyer is certainly doing the Korean car maker justice with his latest creations and the Rio looks to be a very similar affair. Described by the man himself as ‘sporty and elegant’, the new Rio is lower and wider than the previous model with characteristic lines and shapes giving the car a kinetic energy and sense of movement.

Inside, the dashboard is very driver focused and is said to feature many elements to give this smaller KIA the feeling of owning a larger, more expensive model.

Personally, I think Schreyer has made massive steps for KIA, remodelling a brand and bringing a truly edgy look and feel to what used to be known for being budget throughout. I have to admit, if the new Rio looks as true to concept as the new Picanto does, I’ll be driving one tomorrow.