Two high-riding Mercedes-Benz SUVs are the stars of this week’s first drives section. The GLE 350de Coupe was a late entrant to an increasingly competitive class, but an eye-catching design and strong electric-only range mean that it has plenty to make rivals think about. Those wanting power will want to read our first impressions of the AMG GLE 53 Coupé.
We also drive the diesel version of the eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf, which benefits from new technology and a welter of TDI torque, then get sporty with Audi’s RS Q3 Sportback, finding a lithe-handling crossover that more than justifies its RS credentials.
It’s an extra thick festive issue this week, which means doing things a little differently for the traditional Christmas road test. This year’s unusual test subject? The world’s fastest tractor. The JCB Fastrac is big, yellow and does 150mph.
But that’s just the starter of a bumper feast of features. We got the party started with… the road tester’s Christmas party. Our festive testers are reunited with their favourite cars of the year, before arguing who brought the best one over a decadent table of grub. Then, James Ruppert goes in search of the perfect Yuletide used car – anything goes as long as it’s good value and has a sizeable engine.
While our resident Bangernomics guru is scouting out the market, Colin Goodwin has been granted a day of leave. Editor Mark Tisshaw gives Goodwin 24 hours to go wherever and drive whatever he wants: join Colin in a Chevrolet Camaro for his grand day out.
Not to be outdone by Goodwin’s travels, Richard Webber plots an odyssey of his own. Charged with building an alternative Christmas hamper, our man tours his 5 Series from Edinburgh to London in search of the perfect spread.
Elsewhere, Rachel Burgess and Ben Summerell-Youde team up to design Santa a car-themed sleigh, while Jesse Crosse also samples a different style of driving – he’s profiling the cult of Tamiya, legendary makers of remote-controlled cars.
Also in this issue: we drive a tank, make glasswork with Volvo, round up our snappers’ favourite photos from 2019 and a whole lot more.