It’s been a packed year for everything automotive, be it motorsport, new cars or celebrating a landmark in style, and we’ve enjoyed it massively.
The next 12 months look to be quite the blast, too, but we’d like to take a moment to remember the best motoring moments in 2014.
Lewis Hamilton claims his second Formula 1 World Championship
Following four years of dominance from a certain Sebastien Vettel and his now former team Red Bull, the 2014 Formula 1 season was somewhat refreshing for numerous reasons, but perhaps most notably for Lewis Hamilton grabbing his second title.
The boy from Stevenage last won the championship back in 2008 - just his second season in F1 - and after a fiercely heated season with long-time friend and rival Nico Rosberg, Hamilton took overall victory by 67 points after winning the final race in Abu Dhabi.
His relationship with the German was the talking point of the season and something that came to tenterhooks at the Belgian Grand Prix in August when Rosberg punctured Hamilton’s tyre with the two Mercedes drivers leading the race.
As their camaraderie gradually fell apart following the aftermath of Spa, Hamilton, with the bit between his teeth, won five races on the trot to truly make his stake for the championship, to which Rosberg never really responded to. Double points were on offer at the final race, but in the end it never really mattered to Hamilton who stormed away from Rosberg, with the German’s car faltering in the early laps and ended the race in 14th and the Brit taking the flag to double his title wins.
The MX-5 is reborn
There was always going to be a sizeable amount of pressure for Mazda when it revealed the new MX-5 in September. The two-seater roadster has seen sales on the cusp of one million units since its inception 25 years ago, and when the outgoing generation was ready to be replaced, anticipation was high.
Mazda has been rejuvenating both its cars and its brand over the last few years, with the new 3 and 6 models showcasing the firm’s new Kodo design ethos that has really shaped up its image.
Not only are the visuals of the new MX-5 quite stunning, but the driving experience promises to build upon the already solid foundations laid down by previous iterations. Mazda has managed to knock 100kg of weight from the last generation, while a 50:50 distribution will further enhance the dynamics of the new MX-5, as will the use of aluminium for certain components.
The manufacturer’s SkyActiv technology will also be a key feature on the latest roadster, with Mazda’s 1.5 and 2.0-litre powerplants giving the MX-5 a new lease of life. Mazda will launch the car in summer 2015 and promises to be one of the highlights of the year.
Mustang pre-orders sellout in seconds
An overwhelming response to Ford putting the first Euro-destined Mustangs up for pre-sale saw all 500 get snapped up in seconds. The American manufacturer used the Champions League final to give prospective customers the chance to have one of the first Mustangs headed for Europe, with every example spoken for after just 30 seconds of the referee starting the game.
It was revealed that over 9,000 people tried to grab one of the 500 during the game between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid and 130 are thought to be destined for the UK, where it will enter our market in right-hand-drive for the very first time.
Peugeot returns to the Dakar Rally
Arguably the toughest race in motorsport, the Dakar Rally is a test of pure endurance and skill at the wheel over 10,000km of the most treacherous terrain accessible by a vehicle and 2014 saw Peugeot announce its return to the event after 25 years out.
The French manufacturer has quite the decorated history in the Dakar Rally thanks to four consecutive wins between 1987 and 1990 with the legendary 205 T16 Grand Raid and the 405 T16 Grand Raid, with rally legend Ari Vatanen at the helm.
Peugeot will return in the 2008 DKR, a heavily modified version of the firm’s compact SUV and will team up with Red Bull for the event, as well as another celebrated rally driver in Spaniard Carlos Sainz who is also a seasoned Dakar racer. However, Peugeot’s prized asset in the 2015 Dakar Rally will likely be 11-time champion Stephane Peterhansel who will no doubt be after win number 12.
Vauxhall celebrates Ellesmere’s five millionth car in style
Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port factory opened in 1964 and has produced every Astra, as well as classics as the Viva and Chevette, and when the manufacturer announced the plant had finished its five millionth car, a celebration was in order.
However, while most expected a limited edition car or other memento, Vauxhall had other ideas and instead decided to thrash its most iconic models around Ellesmere’s factory floor in an Ashes to Ashes style show of wheel spin and tyre smoke.