Road test 2007: The good, the bad and the ugly...

Another year, another 52 cars have motored across our pages. But which ones drove Michael Booth wild with excitement and which simply drove him to despair?
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The Independent Online

Five of the best: On the fast-track to four-wheeled fame and fortune

Audi TT, from £26,940

Could Titian have improved upon his Venus of Urbino? What if Charles II had sent back the sketches for St Paul's to Sir Christopher Wren with "Could do better" written across them?

That's exactly the challenge Audi faced in updating one of the most influential automotive monuments of the past decade, the TT.

It gave the car more sophisticated suspension and tweaked the engines and, damn it, made it look even better sleeker, more lithe, sharper. I think God should take another look at Switzerland, don't you?

Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera, from £145,000

I caught but a tantalising glimpse of the astonishing breadth of performance that the Gallardo was capable of, but it was enough to frighten me silly and have me yearning for a racetrack. Lamborghini's first true lightweight in years put the frighteners on just about everyone. As always with this kind of car, the brakes impressed just as much as the power. You just have to stamp on the middle pedal foran instant face-lift.

Volvo C30, from £14,750

Has there ever been a more risible vehicle than the small Volvo, I'd think every time I saw a 440. Then the C30 launched and I wept with joy. It was functional, sexy, well-built and as comfy as a V70, and it made the Golf look like a right old fart.

Renault Dacia Logan, from £5,000

It takes more ingenuity and know-how to build a good cheap car than it does to build a Rolls, and none have impressed me more than the spartan, Dacia Logan. It's not on sale here yet, but might well be by the end of 2008.

Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coup, from £307,500

So it leaked a little, but it was raining hard and, besides, it never rains on the Côte d'Azur and if it did, the kind of person who could afford one of these would hop on their Lear jet and head for Muscat, so I doubt many Dropheads will have to brave a wet Wednesday in West Wittering, as mine did. The Rolls isn't really a car, it is part-monument, part-oligarch's shag wagon. I wouldn't necessarily want to own one, but I am certainly glad it is being built. Gordon Brown should drive one. It'd do wonders for his image.

Five of the worst: Destined for the hard shoulder of automotive history

Subaru Tribeca, from £29,097

Beyond the grisly visage, silly name and dubious socio-political implications of owning a 3-litre, petrol-engined behemoth that, although designed entirely with urban use in mind, fraudulently touts all-terrain ability, if we can see past all that, the new Subaru was really quite a pudding.

Lotus Europa, from £33,945

These days Lotus is the Status Quo of the car world, churning out the same three chords in a different sequence year upon year. Luckily, as with the mighty Quo, the Elise and its spin-offs do tend to play a tune we all want to hear. The supposedly comfier, more upmarket Europa, on the other hand, is a bungled and cynical offering.

Cadillac SRX, from £27,995

Has anyone from Cadillac ever actually visited Great Britain? Or do they just think we are still a nation of war widows who will swoon at the slightest hint of an American accent and some free chewing gum? Whatever, they are very much mistaken if they think the SRX has anything to offer the motorists of Britain, except perhaps for those who earn their living chasing a bladder of air on Second Division football pitches.

Chevrolet Captiva, from £16,995

Nope, sorry, can't remember a thing about this one. And I only drove it last month.

Skoda Roomster Scout, from 9,950

It is the thinnest of lines between a practical, quirky, good-value, no-nonsense family van and an embarrassment of Lynne Franks proportions, and the Scout boldly crosses that line.

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