Having scaled the empyrean heights of excellence, it’s time to plumb the  abyss and survey the seventh circle of automobilic hell. This will be as much fun as rubbing your eyes with chillis.

Tata Nano

Getting the developing world on to four wheels is a great idea, especially if it means a few more Indians will refrain from attaching their children to the handlebars of vintage Honda Cubs, but there may be consequences.

Making a car that will cost as little as a grand means that a hell of a lot of India’s 1.2 billion -strong population will be able to find a sufficiency of rupees to get Nano’d. Which in turn means what was ‘global warming’ might very well become ‘global Gas Mark 6’.

We in the West aren’t really in a position to criticise, what with starting it all, but the Nano is the new elephant in the room. Apparently it’s also a steaming turd of a car, but you’ll be too busy drowning in polar ice melt to notice.

Vauxhall Vectra

TopGear has an unhappy relationship with the first Vauxhall Vectra. There was a moment on the old TopGear telly where Jeremy refused to even drive it because it was so dull. If Vauxhall had put zero effort into making it, the thinking went, why should he put any effort into testing it?

This did not go down well at Vauxhall, nor at parent company GM’s headquarters in Germany. Vectra sales went through the floor, and lots of oily moustachioed factory workers tried to organise a lynching. The problem was, however, that he was right on the money.

Dodge Nitro

It’s difficult for British people to fully comprehend how a car like the Dodge Nitro can exist in the 21st century. It is nigh-on impossible to drive due to the driver’s footwell being made almost entirely of transmission tunnel. It’s also noisy, appallingly finished and corners with all the composure of an Eighties pickup truck. All of which we’d overlook if it didn’t look like it was sculpted by a five-year-old with a bucket of clay and a house brick.

Porsche Cayenne Turbo S

The SUV market is big business these days, but only because it is a business tailoring lifestyle statements to suit the whims of Major League arseholes. Porsche’s Cayenne Turbo S is the epitome of this in car design, where brilliant engineering is being poured into making pointless, cynical toss on wheels.

Vauxhall Tigra

The second-generation Tigra perfectly encapsulates everything that is initially irritating and ultimately profoundly humiliating about a car whose solitary selling point is a folding metal roof. Painfully slow, clumsy in the corners, noisy, embarrassing and a Vauxhall, the Tigra is everything TopGear doesn’t want a car to be. Ooh, but look, the roof goes down…

Vauxhall Frontera

The lifestyle SUV wallowed into the British consciousness with the US-sourced Frontera, a comically incompetent soft-roader that lured cash-rich, taste-poor young tossers from their hot hatches into something more ‘individual’. Solid gold shit, it spawned a whole generation of the same.

Toyota Corolla

The most widely sold car in history is also a front-runner for the dullest. Since its loveless inception in 1966, the Toyota Corolla has existed purely as a grimly functional tool of transport. Over 35 million of them have been sold worldwide, reputedly at the rate of one a second for 40 years of its lifespan, a fact that causes every proper car lover to die a little inside.

Ssanyong Rodius

Being the black sheep of Korea’s vast automotive export market is quite a feat. Like being the prisoner in the sex offender’s wing that no one will share a cell with.

The Ssangyong Rodius is retinal violation of biblical proportions from the country that invented aesthetic crimes against motoring humanity. This is the Frankenstein school of car design: chopping the ugly bits off other, almost as ugly cars, then welding them together in an awful hurry before attaching a battery. Form and function need to be closely allied when it comes to cars. The Rodius is magnificently short on both. Which is an alliance of sorts.

Kia Rio

You can hardly be surprised to see a Kia in this illustrious list of lemons. That the company is enjoying a turnaround these days just makes how stunningly inept the Rio was all the more remarkable. It was slow, ugly and poorly put together using materials that look more carcinogenic than a weekend in Chernobyl.

Chrysler PT Cruiser Cab

Since the dawn of time, there has always been a small section of the human race that just doesn’t get it. Those that totally miss the Zeitgeist and are forever locked in a desperate, doomed struggle for survival: vegan cavemen, the Amish, the BNP, Robbie Williams. And the designers of the Chrysler PT Cruiser Cabriolet. No car in history has more completely missed the target, with its garbled combination of future-retro machismo and that clumsy, effete afterthought of a drop top. If there is a car in the world more embarrassing to be seen driving, we can’t think of it. And nor would we want to.


Where the oringial M6 was an involving union between man and machine, today’s tech-heavy offering, where you access the car’s full power through the ‘M’ settings menu in the iDrive, is about as visceral and sporty an experience as taking your mum on at golf on the Nintendo Wii.

Mercedes ML55 AMG

In order to save money, Mercedes decided to build the ML in Alabama. This overlooked the fact that it would, therefore, be built by Americans. The original ML was, therefore, one of the least reliable cars Merc has ever sent to market, and the AMG version was the most overpriced atrocity of the whole pitiful bunch.

Suzuki X-90

Few cars in history have been so utterly lacking in redeeming features. The faux-4×4-cum-coupe that was the X-90 failed in absolutely every respect of its design, neither being able to cope off road nor on it. There was no space inside for your pseudo-sporty lifestyle either, and the targa roof was a disaster.

TVR Cerbera

Ah, TVR. No list of motoring misery would be complete without one of Blackpool’s fatal attractions cropping up somewhere. The Cerbera looked like a dangerously ill-conceived dildo, and while it briefly laid claim to being the fastest production car in the world, it seldom worked for long enough for anyone to find out. Which made up for the absence of any recognisable safety features.

Mercedes Maybach

On realising that the Rolls-Royce Phantom was set to summarily open a can of whoop-ass in the segment where the S-Class had rolled out its beach towel, the bods at Mercedes came up with the Maybach. The benchmark for bad taste, it’s essentially an incredibly expensive motorhome without a loo.

Jaguar X-Type

There was a lot of marketing piffle when the X-Type was launched about how you could now get a Jag for ‘Mondeo money’. Ironic really – the X-Type was just a Mondeo, but more expensive.

Jaguar XJ220

Look past the XJ220’s armour-piercing aerodynamics, and you’ll find a tangled web of back-tracking and courtroom drama. The much-vaunted 200mph, 4WD, V12 supercar ended up a 2WD V6 with vicious turbo-lag and no ABS. And the price went up by 10 per cent. Prospective owners wanting their £50k deposit back took Jaguar to court, and lost.

The XJ220 could have been great, but big ambition got kicked in the nuts by emission regulations and recession. Sounds familiar?

Rover 45

The 400 Series, that later spawned the 45 in a desperate bid to stay alive, was the moment – albeit a 15-year-long moment – when Rover really hit the skids. With lacklustre styling, shoddy reliability from gutless K-Series engines and vastly more modern rivals like the Ford Focus leaving it for dead, this was British car manufacturing at its lowest ebb. If the Phoenix Four drove the nails, the 45 built the coffin.


Surely the inevitable choice at TopGear, but the G-Wiz may also be Mankind’s worst ever car. And that it dresses up its inadequacies with a tissue-thin veil of environmentalism only makes it more contemptible. For starters, it’s so slow you might as well walk, but it’s also lethally cramped inside and apparently both styled and assembled in the dark.

We crash-tested this one in controlled conditions. But the importers say the results don’t matter, since it’s classed as a quadracycle and therefore doesn’t technically need to be safe. That’s a relief…