Followers of the Top Gear show will remember Clarkson bestowing a similar award on the lightweight Caterham R500 earlier this year for its ability to go faster around the Top Gear track than a Bugatti Veyron while costing 1/30th of its price. But in determining his true car of the year for his latest article in The Times, Clarkson claimed that the Caterham was just too "ugly and geeky", and therefore wasn't even close to having all the qualities the car of the year should have.
Clarkson also considered the Nissan GT-R, which challenges the Porsche 911 Turbo on the track while costing around half of its price, as well as the handsome Volkswagen Scirocco, based on the VW Golf GTI. Other contenders included such diverse cars as the Rolls-Royce Phatom Drophead and the Fiat 500 Abarth, but ultimately it was the V8-powered Corvette ZR1 that came away with the title of car of the year.
Compared to Corvettes of the past, Clarkson was especially impressed with the ZR1's ability to tackle corners and straights with equal gusto, as well as its supercharged V8 that could be "both docile and extraordinarily savage" at the same time. While the driving experience thoroughly impressed the auto commentator, build quality was still not up to scratch in the Corvette - Clarkson claimed that after three days of driving the ZR1 "the boot lock disintegrated and the keyless go system refused to acknowledge the keys were in the car" - but that didn't matter in the end, and the Corvette ZR1 came away with the prize at the end of the day.