Lotus Emira
Interesting Info 21 Mar 2024

The Best Cars For Spring 2024

Yesterday’s Spring Equinox means that it is officially Spring. The evenings and mornings are certainly getting lighter and even though we haven’t seen much of the Spring sunshine so far this year, it definitely feels like Winter is on its way out. With this in mind, people’s thoughts turn to changing their winter car for something a bit more exciting and less geared towards tackling ice and snow. Something a bit more fun to drive, perhaps with the option for open top driving and a bit sportier in nature. With the introduction of the new registration plate at the start of this month, it also coincides with it potentially being the best time of the year to purchase your next vehicle.

So, what are the best cars for Spring in 2024, here is our rundown of the top models from each category.

Sports Car – Lotus Emira

The Lotus brand has always been one of the best driving sports cars that money can buy. Light on their feet, precise handling, and none of those new-fangled electronics to get in the way of the driving experience. In recent years they have had a change of direction and like everyone else these days, are looking to an all-electric future, and a bright one at that. The announcement of the Eletre, Evija and Emeya shows that Lotus mean business in the coming years, yet for now they had one final go at a combustion engine drivers’ car, the Emira.

Lotus Emira
Image courtesy of Lotus

It may not be as stripped out as an Elise or an Evora, but it is all the better for it. You can’t expect to tempt buyers away from the likes of the Porsche Cayman or the Alpine A110 and still expect buyers to have wind-up windows and no carpets. The Emira not only offers luxury and refinement on a level not seen in a Lotus before, but it also exudes style and sophistication on another level too. In pictures it looks fantastic but, in the flesh, even better. From a distance it looks McLaren exotic, up close it looks neat and features clever styling touches and inside it is almost Audi TT levels of quality.

Available with a 3.5-litre V6 or a slightly detuned 2.0-litre turbocharged AMG engine from the A-Class, the Emira offers up to 400bhp and the option of a manual gearbox for the former and 360bhp and automatic only for the latter. Grip levels and feedback are exceptional, the ride is certainly comfortable, with the advantage of being set up for the UK’s bumpy roads from the beginning, and the car is as comfortable in stop start traffic as it is blasting along a B-road on a summer’s day. It may seem pricey at around £80,000 if you think of Lotus’ of old, but in today’s market it makes more sense. The brand’s blend of driving and handling enjoyment remains as abundant as ever, only these days it comes with the addition of comfort, technology, and refinement too.

Hot Hatchback – Toyota GR Yaris

Toyota’s GR Yaris is one of the rare moments where manufacturers are prepared to change aspects of their standard car to create something very special. In that respect, their in-house Gazoo Racing (hence the ‘GR’) have gone crazy with the GR Yaris. To take their small economical shopping car rallying they created the ultimate homologation special and weren’t afraid to change whatever they wanted.

Toyota GR Yaris
Image courtesy of Toyota

To start with power comes from a custom version of a turbocharged 1.6-litre 3-cylinder engine that produces over 250bhp, send through a bespoke four-wheel drive system and manual gearbox. If that wasn’t enough, the bodywork has lost a pair of doors for aerodynamic purposes, the roofline has been lowered and is now made from carbon fibre and the bonnet, boot and doors are now aluminium to save weight. Even the chassis is tailor made for the GR and strengthened to cope with the extra power and performance potential.

The GR Yaris took performance driving fans and even motoring journalists by surprise with just how much fun it is to drive and the effectiveness of the alterations to create a road going rally machine. The even better news is that Toyota have just announced a facelift version with even more power, a bespoke 8-speed racing bred gearbox, changes to the chassis, the suspension set up and even the driving position for maximum enjoyment. It improves on an already exceptional car, the perfect way to enjoy Spring driving, when the conditions potentially are still a bit changeable.

Supercar – Aston Martin DB12

Aston Martin made huge improvements when they introduced the DB11, from the driving dynamics to the build quality and reliability and even the styling was modern and featured advanced aerodynamic management. For a company who often struggled to offer the latest technologies often due to limited budget, it was certainly a step in the right direction. With the DB12 however they have pushed their capabilities even further.

Aston Martin DB12
Image courtesy of Aston Martin

One of the biggest changes that sees the biggest overhaul is the interior. Gone is the multi-buttoned, overly complicated switchgear and out of date Mercedes software, replaced by a bespoke Aston Martin operating system and contemporary interior styling. The usual blend of sumptuous leather and expensive materials of course remain, but the addition of the latest technology and simpler design ensure the DB12 is a great place to be.

Although more of a super grand tourer than an out and out supercar, advancements in everything from dynamics, performance, technology and even an area where Aston Martin excel, luxuriousness, has ensured the DB12 is certain to ruffle a few feathers. Utilising an AMG sourced V8, as with its predecessor, this time it has gained an extra 150bhp so is now producing over 670bhp and can sprint from 0-62mph in just 3.6 seconds and keep going until 200mph passes by. Everything from the chassis stiffness to the suspension set up and the body control is a marked improvement over the DB11 and handles the additional power with ease. It may not be the conventional idea of a supercar, but why not offer supercar pace and performance from a comfortable and luxurious cabin.

SUV – Land Rover Defender

The Lad Rover Defender continues to be one of the sales successes of recent times. Reinventing such an iconic model was never going to be an easy task yet the manufacturer seems to have pulled it off, and then some. The new Defender obviously had to reference the original in looks, be more than capable in all weather conditions and terrains, but also remain classless and cool. Whilst the latest Defender manages to contain all those things in abundance, it also manages to offer unseen levels of not just luxury, technology, and refinement for the model, but also on road dynamics and performance.

Land Rover Defender 110 V8
Image courtesy of Land Rover

Whist the majority of SUV’s either work as impressive off-road machine or a luxury prestige vehicle, the Defender manages to be both. The classless image means it is a car that looks equally at home covered in mud towing a horse box across a field as it does gleaming and fully detailed pulling up outside a stately home. In the same aspect, its dynamic and on-road abilities, as well as the fact it can be specified with a 5.0-litre V8 engine, means that it can be enjoyed on a spirited drive on a country B-road as much as it can be cruising down a motorway in complete luxury.

Weekend/Track Car – Porsche 911 GT3 RS

For many there is only one choice that people have in mind when it comes to their ultimate car to use for a track day or a weekend driving trip, a product from the ‘GT’ range of Porsche 911’s. The ultimate drivers’ version of that line up is the GT3 RS. A GT3 RS takes inspiration from Porsche’s very successful racing series cars and aims to create a version that belongs on a track but that can also be used on the road if you’re brave enough. The latest 992 GT3 RS takes the performance capabilities that bit further and represents the most extreme variation of the highly sought after model of 911 yet.

Porsche 911 GT3 RS
Image courtesy of Porsche

In the looks department, the wing is bigger, the bodywork cutouts are more extreme than ever before, and the airflow management is about the most advanced on any road car you can buy. As well as creating the maximum amount of downforce possible they have also ensured every gram of weight has been saved wherever possible to maximise the available performance. This means that with just 1450kg to move around, the 518bhp provided by the naturally aspirated 4.0-litre flat-six engine feels like so much more. That combined with actual downforce when you need it, and a Formula 1 derived drag reduction system (DRS) for when you don’t, the GT3 RS can outperform almost anything around a track.

Porsche’s extensive motorsport knowledge and illustrious history of winning decade after decade shows in their sports cars, and especially with their ‘GT’ range of products. For those looking for maximum performance in a road going car, that can also provide real on-track results, little can match them and that is why for many they are not just the go-to name for a weekend or track day car, but the only vehicle they would choose.

Electric Car – BMW i5

When the Porsche Taycan was released, it was the first real time that an electric car could have been considered as a dynamic and fun to drive car from a mainstream manufacturer. It was exactly what a Porsche was all about, it just happened to be electric. The latest BMW i5 is heralded for exactly the same reasons. Released alongside the latest 5-Series, the i5 does everything the combustion engine car does, it just happens to be electrically powered.

BMW i5
Image courtesy of BMW

A BMW needs to be practical, look good, offer an engaging driving experience and be equipped with the latest technology and the i5 has all of that in abundance. In fact, as the lineup currently stands, the i5 is the flagship performance car in the 5-Series line up, with the i5 M60 xDrive offering almost 600bhp and costing a shade under £100,000 for the privilege. Undoubtedly there will be an M5 coming at some point, but the next best thing for now being a fully electric model shows how much BMW think about their new i5 Saloon.

Gone are the days when an electric model had to stand out with its looks or be quirky in some way shape or form, and the i5 perfectly blends into the range as it should. There are no compromises for its powertrain, it drives just like a 5-Series should and it doesn’t have any obvious signs other than the trademark grille being filled in. It is the way electric cars should be, an alternative powertrain choice of a car that you already know and love, not a restriction that you have to make excuses for.

Convertible – Bentley Continental GTC

The current Bentley Continental GT may have been on sale since 2018 but it remains one of the finest luxury cars that money can buy. There aren’t many cars that manage to offer quite so much opulence and comfort yet are capable of also offering so much in the way of performance and athleticism. It is what the original Bentley ethos was over 100 years ago and remains stronger today than it ever has been.

Bentley Continental GTC
Image courtesy of Bentley

Owning a convertible car used to mean you compromised with build quality and sacrificed quietness, refinement and dynamic ability for the option to occasionally enjoy open top driving when the British Summer or Spring allows. The Bentley Continental GTC offers that opportunity but with none of the drawbacks. With the roof down you remain cocooned from the elements and can enjoy serene and calming driving, with the roof down you get the same experience just with the added bonus of enjoying surround views and that feeling of being at one with the fresh air. From the climate controlled seating, to the discreet neck warmers, heated steering wheel and to the heated armrests, the GTC can be enjoyed in the searing sunshine or when the temperature isn’t so favourable.

Whilst the experience can be just as relaxing with the roof down, the GTC can also offer its dynamic and sporty nature in abundance. With a 4.0 V8 or a 6.0-litre W12 engine with the roof down the engine noise is ever present, especially with the optional sports exhaust system, and the GTC is surprisingly capable for such a large and comfortable grand tourer. Whatever the Spring weather decides to throw at you.

Hybrid – Range Rover Sport

Hybrid technology has come a long way since the days of the first Toyota Prius. These days the majority of cars that haven’t already been released as electric only versions are hybrid assisted in one way another. It can offer anything from limited range electric only running, ensuring fuel consumption is maximised wherever possible or both options depending on your preference. One of the very best at providing both capabilities in a package that requires no compromising is the latest Range Rover Sport.

Range Rover Sport SV
Image courtesy of Land Rover

The latest model offers more of everything, more luxury, more on and off-road capability, greater performance and more technology and sophistication than ever before. One of the most impressive powertrains in the latest Range Rover line up is the P550e, highlighting the effectiveness that a modern hybrid engine can offer. With 550PS worth of combined power offering a 0-62mph time of just 4.9 seconds, the Range Rover Sport can offer all the performance you could ever need. At the same time it features a claimed combined fuel consumption of up to 400mpg, a very impressive claim for such a powerful and heavy car, and can also offer over 50 miles of electric only driving.

As well as the impressive engine technology on offer, the latest Range Rover Sport has set the luxury and refinement bar higher than ever. The Range Rover brand has always been synonymous with providing the upmost in comfort and technology combined with off-road capability, and the Sport variation adds that little bit extra of dynamic on-road performance. The hybrid assistance means that it can also provide the best of both worlds when it comes to electric only motoring or incredible fuel efficiency.

Classic Car – Porsche 911 (996)

The Porsche 911 996 generation was not the brand’s finest hour. In a bid to reinvigorate the model in time for the 21st century, Porsche went all out in creating an all-new version of the iconic model, but possibly went a bit too far that time. In a bid to enhance the aerodynamics and bring the styling right up to date the iconic silhouette was amended further than ever before. Fully moulded bumpers were introduced, the upright windscreen tilted back further, and the trademark circular lights replaced with what became known as the ‘fried eggs’ look.

Porsche 911 (996)
Image courtesy of Porsche

It wasn’t just the styling either, even the legendry air-cooled engines were replaced by water-cooled, although this was something that Porsche had kept alive longer than everyone else. It was just the timing of it all. Short of moving the engine to the front, it couldn’t have gone down much worse with avid 911 fanatics. But it wasn’t all bad news, the 996 generation gave birth to the first of the GT3 models, which was the first production car to lap the Nürburgring in less than 8 minutes. It also saw the return of the GT2, which also became the first full production car to have ceramic composite brakes fitted as standard. Just before it was replaced it also saw the first GT3 RS, the most track focused version of the model yet and a model that best drivers’ iteration of the 911 yet.

Aside from the highly sought after GT models, the 996 is one of the cheapest ways into a classic Porsche 911 and could be a great way to purchase an appreciating asset. The charms of the model are slowly becoming apparent once the styling and the engine changes can be forgiven, and the 911 community are beginning to realise that the 996 could be the next big thing in classic Porsche models. Whatever 996 model you can afford, you can rest assured that it will be a fantastic driving car now that Spring weather is on its way.

Luxury Car – Rolls Royce Spectre

A Rolls Royce may be a bit out of reach for the majority of people but as far as luxury cars go it is the pinnacle of what is possible. The Spectre has arrived at the culmination of that luxuriousness by combining the silence of electric power with the famous ride quality and opulence. If any car was the perfect fit for the quietness, the refinement and the smooth and effortless power delivery than a Rolls Royce would definitely be it. 100 years ago, the company founders saw that an electric powertrain would be the perfect addition to epitomise the ethos of the brand, it is only now that the dream has become a reality.

Rolls Royce Spectre
Image courtesy of Top Gear

Aside from just being an electric version of a luxury car, the Spectre is something very special indeed. With an extra-long coupe body style, the Spectre manages to appear cutting edge and futuristic in styling, yet evoke swooping lines as if it was a model from yesteryear. It manages to incorporate the latest technology seamlessly with the finest materials and expert craftsmanship in a way only Rolls Royce, and perhaps Bentley, seem to be able to do. Despite electric cars being widely criticised for their additional weight, the Spectre isn’t too much heavier than the Phantom, not that they have skimped at all on luxury and opulence to save weight.

The Spectre avoids the need to follow the trend of stupendous acceleration, in a way that Rolls Royce should, and provides adequate power and handling ability but not too much to upset the famous magic carpet ride or comfort of its passengers. It is a testament to what is possible with electric power combined with the finest car builders around and brings the brand right up to date with something it has been missing out on for almost a century.


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