2012. The year the world was supposed to end. It seems crazy that 10 years ago the UK was in London Olympics fever pitch, but yet, here we are in 2022, reminiscing over the past 10 years.
Here at Keith Michaels, we were thinking about how much has changed since the London Olympics, and the best bits of the last 10 years and naturally, as specialist performance car insurers, it brought us onto the hot topic of the best handling cars of the last decade.
While we might not have had the privilege of driving some of these cars (yet), the past decade has produced some absolutely beautiful cars. Technology has brought us so far, not only in the cars themselves, but also in the manufacture and testing process, allowing for minute changes to be made that make all the difference on the track.
So, What Actually is Handling?
Handling is how the car responds and feels when driving. It’s incredibly subjective, as what one person finds to be “good” handling might be over-sensitive for another. However, handling is all about the responsiveness of the steering and the feedback the car gives you.
Good car handling is a combination of chassis balancing, instant steering response, feel from the car, pedal response and driver information. It’s a hard thing to place your finger on as to what actually feels good as handling, especially if you’ve never gone on a track with your car, or only really driven one type of car.
However, you can imagine it as the difference between using a rowing boat, and a high-speed superyacht. A wooden tiller and oars are going to be so much harder to direct than a powerful petrol engine with strong propellers and a detailed control panel.
The Best 7 Handling Cars of the Last Decade
1. Toyota GT86
Ever since this car was released in 2012, the Toyota GT86 has been a fan favourite. Not only is it beautiful to look at, but it’s also an incredible drive. You may hear people moaning about how it’s slow or it’s ‘old’ now but until you get in one and give it a spin, you won’t truly appreciate how fantastic this is to drive. Any petrolhead reviewer of this car sings its praises for its handling and we have to agree.
Built in conjunction with Subaru, making it similar to their BRZ, it’s a car that has been designed for the perfect balance, making it a delight to drive. The suspension not only makes it great to handle, but as a daily driver on pothole filled roads, it’s just as good.
2. Ford Fiesta ST
If you’ve driven more than a mile in the UK and not seen at least one Ford Fiesta, are you even in the UK?
However, this isn’t about the standard Ford Fiesta, this is about the Ford Fiesta ST. For the price you pay, the drive is just fantastic. Best suited to longer, dry roads, it’s easy to drive and one that’s reactive and responsive. There’s a reason that petrolheads have cars like the ST as a daily driver, and it’s because it’s agile and most importantly, fun. It is a firm ride, but one that you can easily forgive for its affordable price, both from new and second hand.
3. Porsche Taycan
Our first electric entry! If there’s one thing the last 10 years has brought, it’s the introduction of some truly powerful rivals to combustion engines. No longer are electric cars boring and only good for city centre driving, they’re now fun, exciting cars that explode in power at the touch of the accelerator. The instant power you get from an EV is something that many car fans love, and Porsche have truly outdone themselves with their Taycan.
Taycan is roughly translated to the Turkic for “soul of a spirited young horse” and the Japanese for “physical experience”, and it truly delivers on its name.
It’s comfortable, it’s exciting, it’s invigorating and most importantly, it feels nimble, and for an electric car, that’s really something.
4. The Holy Hybrid Trio (McLaren P1, Ferrari La Ferrari and the Porsche 918 Spyder)
We wanted to include all three of these, and we could have done a piece on how these three cars alone are truly something special. If there was a moment in the last 10 years that showed how hybrid cars could become something incredible, this was probably it.
All three are beautiful cars, each completely unique and at least one of them is probably in everyone’s dream garage. Yes, they’re all similar and all contentiously debated on how fast they are but these three hypercars are all fantastic for handling, and we couldn’t not include them.
5. Mazda MX-5 Miata
Here you go JDM fans, here’s your car that’s been an icon for decades, the Mazda MX-5, also called the Miata. You can argue that it’s not from the past decade, but a 2019 version exists, so we’re including it.
They’re just incredible to drive, you will have the best time of your life driving one of these. While we can’t claim they’re perfect in any way, they’re truly fantastic cars that are great to drive from stock but can also be modified to your taste. You can throw them round a track and have a great time or do a cross city commute and be just as nimble. Later versions were equipped with a 1.8l engine, giving that extra punch. Aside from the lack of storage space, what else could you want?
People love them for racing and for daily driving, and for good reason. They’re a truly iconic car and put a smile on your face no matter the day.
6. Ford Mustang GT350R
Some have described the Ford Mustang GT350R as the “most exciting driving experience under $100k”. It’s an American great, and we can’t argue with that at all. Not only does it sound powerful and has been built to a great standard, it’s also great to drive.
It’s probably one of the few true American muscle cars you’ll see on UK roads, and the redesign from 2016 onwards brought it into the 21st century with a massive, American sized bang.
But when it comes to handling, this car is just as fantastic. Aside from the slightly off pedals, it’s a monster to drive. Imagine a tamed racehorse in your engine, and then quadruple that. It’s tamed power in your hands, and doesn’t the car know it.
7. BMW M3 Competition
Yes, you’ve read the entirety of this article and we’ve only just mentioned BMW. Terribly sorry. We could have included any of the BMW M range, but something about the BMW M3 hits different.
The current generation doesn’t quite take our fancy, but anything older is just wonderful. An older BMW M3 is the perfect size for UK roads, yet it has that assertiveness you’d want from a car fit for the Autobahn. The 2016 competition pack gives you sport firmness that delivers the turns you want, and the impact you need. It’s a truly magnificent car that you can easily manoeuvre into a driving beast you heart desires.
Own One of These Cars?
Whether you own one of these cars, or another car that handles like a beast, then make sure you get insurance that protects it properly. With Keith Michaels specialist performance insurance, you get an insurance policy through a broker with over 30 years’ experience in specialist cars. Get in touch today to see how we can help you.