Until very recently, seeing in the new year was always a uniquely depressing experience. Resolutions long since lapsed, I tended to look back on the preceding 12 months with a mixture of regret and loathing, my stomach in knots when I thought about the coming year - such was the uncertainty of life as a freelance motoring journalist in the UK.
Now things could not be more different and I am able to look back at the good times - the highs - and this year's crop of cars has definitely played its part in my positive frame of mind. Because, if experience has shown me anything, it's that they'll only get even better.
Here you can read about the 10 cars I'm getting a bit giddy about for next year, but here it's appropriate to look back on the automobiles that have passed through my hands during 2012. And there have been some belters, let me tell you.
February saw me packing my bags for a freezing cold northern Spain, where the first of the year's pleasant surprises was patiently waiting: the Bentley Continental V8, a car that risked losing its quintessential character as a result of engine downsizing. On the contrary, it immediately became my favourite Conti, managing to feel just as fast, sound just as epic and, crucially, more nimble than its W12 big brother. It was a genuinely surprising experience that proved how cutting-edge engine technology can benefit everyone, without ruining what makes a Bentley so special in the first place.
Spanking the McLaren MP4-12C around the Top Gear test track was as much fun as you might imagine and the factory tour that followed was a real eye opener. What McLaren has managed to do, in such a short span of time, without any real previous experience in building road cars, was humbling. And it was terrific to see genuinely British engineering at its best. And what a car that thing is.
Being closely involved with Lamborghini's concept SUV, the Urus, was yet another privilege. Having seen it come from computer renderings to a fully built prototype at the factory and then proceed to steal the Beijing Motor Show was nape tingling. That car's future is still in the balance, but I personally hope Lamborghini will build it - and it isn't often that I say that about an SUV.
A few days spent in March behind the wheel of a Volkswagen Scirocco R threatened to depress me. Not because it was a bad car - far from it. It's because I own a 2.0 TSI and the R made my own daily driver feel a bit underwhelming. The ensuing months have seen me plot a way of trading up - it really was that good and I cannot speak highly enough of it. Supercars are all well and good but when it comes to the sheer fun of driving, there's little to touch that Volkswagen.
This was also the year when I got back on two wheels, riding a selection of Harley-Davidsons from Dubai to Oman and back. It was then that I really began to appreciate the breathtaking beauty of this region - experiencing truly incredible roads, exposed to the elements - and I vowed to see more of it on a motorcycle. That's at least one resolution for 2013.
Finally, getting to drive the fabled Nürburgring in Germany was yet another highlight, as was being one of the first journalists to experience the new sports car from Toyota: the 86. Back to basics, the 86 is a deserved winner of awards and plaudits all over the world because it provides fun with a capital F. If you want a car that is cheap to buy and own, one that puts a smile on your face, the 86 merits your attention.
But the biggest and most pleasant surprise for me was something you will have read about last weekend: Cadillac's ATS. That a company on the brink of collapse can come back with a product as well resolved and finely honed as that means the future looks rosy indeed.
Thank you for your feedback and support during 2012 and stick around, because 2013 will undoubtedly prove to be another bumper year!