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Monthly Car Magazines Reviewed

Monthly Car Mags


Go on holiday with your mates, pick up a stack of popular monthly car mags, then sit around with a beer discussing what you like/dislike about each one in turn. Then devise a stupid scoring system to rate them against each other to come up with an overall winner based on your biased preference. Drink a little more beer then convince the webmaster that what you’ve decided is worth sharing.

Scoring system

Marks out of 10 for the following categories:

Photography – quality, creativity and presentation

Format/Layout – clarity, style and visual appeal

Appeal – how much do you want to pick it up

Road Tests – good ones make you feel as though you’ve driven it

Columns – thought provoking, amusing and engaging

Fact/Figures – clear, comprehensive and relevant


After a great deal of debate and ultimately unanimous agreement, here are the results.

Score results table

1st Evo Mag


In righteous 1st place with a shiny 92%, the overall winner is Evo. Clearly a magazine by enthusiasts for enthusiasts, the utter thrill of driving pours out of the pages faster than an R500 on high octane. Some of us may never own a white Lamborghini LP560-4 Spider but Henry Catchpole puts us in the driving seat and Gus Gregory shows us what life could look like in it. The appeal of the experience of driving top marques is matched by stylish layout, mouthwatering photographs and honest, evocative editorial. We particularly like the general flow of the magazine - starter, main, pudding – and the sheer passion for driving. The constant use of V-box is a reassurance but we found the lack of mpg in review articles an annoying omission.
2nd Performance Car Mag

Performance Car

Second place on the podium is awarded to (relative) newcomer Performance Car with an impressive 80%. Photography and layout get top marks out of the selection but we felt the editorial, whilst good, needs the same passion and attention to detail to make this a true great. The regular columns hold no appeal for us when compared to Evo, Top Gear and Car.
3rd Car Mag


In third place we find Car with 75% - a good all rounder, with something to appeal to everyone. Unlike the previous two magazines, Car gives as much attention to the everyday cars we all have to drive as it does the wild ones we’d like to - Nick says this is the one for the Grown Ups. The wider industry news engages more than the petrolhead in us but "The Good the Bad and the Ugly" section misses it"s point because it sacrifices much of the useful and interesting details in favour of space and layout.
4th Top Gear

Top Gear

Then comes Top Gear with 68%, the Pepperami of the selection because its "a bit of an animal" - trying to look like a lads mag/comic yet bring us industry busting news and reviews. Credibility suffers as a result. Half the staff are focussed on bringing us strong, engaging reviews (this month’s USA feature bagged our best in show award for the exercise) but cartoons about "How to" and Motorworld undermine their quality. A special mention is awarded for the clarity of the contents pages but the overall "noisy" layout, which irritated us, lost the marks that James May had earned.
5th Octane Mag


Octane with 50% may have suffered a little in the scoring because adverts make up 50% of the magazine we reviewed – the highest ratio of the selection. We wondered if the car reviews had been written by the passengers rather than the drivers because there is always a certain element of detachment – although we understand entirely why upper limits aren’t explored. We hoped for more joy, the cars featured are stunning, but instead found a lot of the reserve displayed by owners as opposed to enthusiasts, perhaps they should show a little more of the Bentley Boys’ spirit. We love the Atkinson and Leno columns.
6th Classic and Sports Car Mag

Classic & Sports Car

Classic & Sports Car at 43% weren’t far behind Octane with their advert to pages ratio but that count includes all the classified ads, which held much of the browsing appeal as we fought over who would buy what...for hours. This was the engineers choice and the layout and photography reflected more of a cluttered shed than a pristine showroom. Similar to What Car though, we would recommend this first for anyone actually thinking of buying a classic. We love the Buckley and de Cadenet columns.
7th What Car Mag

What Car

Perhaps unsurprising when included in a comparison with enthusiast magazines, What Car came last with 40% - However, we all agreed that this is the first, essential choice every time for any potential car buyer. Quite rightly the photography, layout, stats and editorial are aimed solely for fair comparison between similar vehicles rather than trying for the lottery win wish-lists.
Fast Car Mag Max Power Mag We also picked up Fast Car and Max Power, both fine magazines for their target audience but in some respects more lads mag than motoring. The DA team decided these two were too specialised for a fair comparison with the others as they are both dedicated to modding and very individual cars rather than what’s out there.


The favourite magazine will always boil down to personal preference. During the exercise we found the overall appeal was generated through clear layout, quality photography and engaging information. Weaknesses in detail began to frustrate when small areas of extra effort could make such a difference. For the DA the passion for driving delivered consistantly by Evo was the benchmark the others just failed to meet.


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