WE HAVE said farewell (and good riddance, possibly) to 2020 — a year in which the Covid-19 coronavirus ripped through the world, causing heartbreak and havoc. We all had to get used to new ways of working and deal with tight restrictions on socialising.
The pandemic hit many businesses hard, too, not least those in the UK car industry, which was already facing an uncertain future due to the possibility of a no deal Brexit.
But there was some light at the end of the 2020 tunnel, with the rapid introduction of new vaccines to tackle the virus and an 11th hour deal with the European Union to ensure that car imports and exports with our closest and biggest trading partner did not incur tariffs.
Meanwhile, we’ve been plugging away at Driving.co.uk, keeping you up to speed with developments on those details and much more, including some welcome distractions from the likes of Jeremy Clarkson, the world’s most famous motormouth, and Mr JWW, the popular YouTuber.
Here are the 10 most popular articles of 2020, in case you missed them.
1. Can you go for a drive during coronavirus lockdown?
There was a huge amount of confusion about what you could and couldn’t use your car for after the UK’s national lockdown was introduced by PM Boris Johnson in March. Many motorists were fined or reprimanded by police for daring to drive to local beauty spots for their daily exercise, which was verboten. We created a page outlining the details to help drivers in the different UK nations avoid falling foul of the law, and kept it up-to-date with changing details and clarifications. Clearly it was useful, as it quickly became our most popular article of the year.
Due to the rapidly changing situation, with new levels of restriction by region (and even local authority) by the day, the page is no longer available, so as not to provide you with outdated info. Fingers crossed the vaccine rollout means we won’t have a full national lockdown again, and this is one page we won’t need to bring back in 2021.
2. The UK’s top 10 bestselling cars of 2019
With people at home and unable to drive (except with a valid reason) for a large portion of 2020, many of us were dreaming of hitting the road again when lockdown finally eased. Car dealers were closed and new car sales were halted, but that didn’t stop us from creating shortlists of cars to look at when freedom was restored. Which explains why our second most popular page last year was a list of 2019’s top 10 bestselling cars.
According to one online used car website, large numbers of drivers were searching for two-seater convertible sports cars, which suggests many people were pining for wind-in-your-hair motoring fun above all else.
And if you liked that round-up, look out for our updated list of 2020’s bestselling cars in the UK, which also proved a hit this year (see below) and will be refreshed as soon as December’s sales figures are released.
3. Is your car exempt from the London ULEZ?
Another guide for motorists, this time regarding the ever-more-stringent rules around what cars can and can’t enter central London’s Ultra-Low Emissions Zone. Our article also explains the size of the area covered, and whether or not zero-emissions zones are likely to pop up in the capital soon.
4. Mr JWW tries the new Land Rover Defender
The Sunday Times Driving managed a coup with an exclusive test of the highly-anticipated new Land Rover Defender by Mr JWW, a YouTuber and influencer. His full write-up went in the paper and can be found at thetimes.co.uk, but Driving.co.uk is the place for Mr JWW’s video review of the re-imagined off-roader.
5. Clarkson gets to know his farm
Lockdown meant that Jeremy Clarkson went months without being sent any test cars, so The Sunday Times Magazine made the wise decision to have Clarkson write columns about his farm, Diddly Squat, which is to be the subject of a new Amazon Prime TV series called “I bought the Farm“. Here on Driving.co.uk, we chronicled Clarkson’s farming adventures as soon as they appeared, and we’re glad we did as the articles have proved every bit as popular as his actual car reviews.
The biggest hit of the year involves Clarkson taking a perimeter walk of his farm, on the advice of a friend, during which he encountered dead animals and brain-dead people.
6. First proper look at James Dyson’s failed electric car
The Dyson electric car will forever be an interesting footnote in motoring history — a British take on Tesla’s Model X from the billionaire inventor most famous for his vacuum cleaners. It was tantalisingly close to production before the whole project was scrapped in late 2019. The Sunday Times, as part of its Rich List 2020, got the exclusive interview with James Dyson about the electric car project, into which he had ploughed £500m of his own money, and why he decided it wasn’t viable, as well as never-before-seen pictures of the car itself. Driving.co.uk worked with the paper to bring the scoop to a dedicated motoring audience.
7. Clarkson stuck with a Corsa during lockdown
As mentioned above, car makers stopped sending cars to Clarkson (and all motoring writers) as soon as the national coronavirus lockdown was announced. They also stopped collecting cars that were already on loan, which meant a lot of us ended up with a review model on our driveway from March until June. It was a lottery which car we were landed with — it just depended on what had been booked, usually well in advance — and it was with some amusement that we learnt Jeremy Clarkson had a Vauxhall Corsa sitting outside his house throughout lockdown, rather than something from the likes of Aston Martin, Mercedes or Porsche. Mind you, he wasn’t really able to drive it on the road, anyway, and it proved the perfect learner car for his girlfriend’s 18-year-old daughter, who was bored out of her mind.
8. The UK’s top 10 bestselling cars of 2020
Sales of new cars were massively disrupted last year by the coronavirus, which led to some very interesting monthly chart-toppers — registrations of the Tesla Model 3 outstripped those of every other car for one month in 2020, for example. It was a fascinating (and bumper) year for electric cars in general, as buyers continued to shun diesel and the government brought forward its ban on combustion-engine cars from 2040 to 2030.
Our 10 bestselling cars in the UK 2020 page will be updated for the final time when the December figures are announced next week.
9. Top 10 electric cars with 300 miles of range or more
The Tesla Model 3 also features in this list of the best 10 pure-electric cars with a range of 300 miles or more, alongside its stablemates the Model X and Model S. But those looking for a long-range electric car that doesn’t come with a Tesla badge are in luck, as other, more established car makers catch up with the American upstart company. Models from Ford, Volkswagen, BMW and Skoda all appear in our guide.
10. Extended test of the BMW 3 Series Touring
And proving that diesel power still has as least some love left, Will Dron’s long-term review of the 2019 BMW 330d Touring was a top 10 hit in 2020. The top spec 3 Series estate we tested came with a beautifully silky six cylinder oil burner under the bonnet – so smooth you’d have thought it was a petrol engine. It also proved decently economical on a trip to the Alps, just before lockdown, and with its four-wheel drive and winter tyres, the 330d was in its element on snow.
If you enjoyed our list of the top 10 most popular articles of 2020 on Driving.co.uk, you may like to find out about Clarkson’s five best cars of 2020.