CAR OF THE YEAR 2017 // PT 2
THE TOP 3 ARE REVEALED..
Link to Part 1 Below:
The article of the year, that you didn't know you were waiting for
3. McLaren 720S
For a company that essentially started building proper (relatively) mass-produced road cars a mere 6 years ago, McLaren really have become a force to be reckoned with. The 720S, McLaren’s second coming, is unquestionably one of the greatest performance cars on sale today. As a super car, it’s better than Ferrari’s 488, and as a means of transportation, it is staggeringly usable. For years, journalists around the world have been pottering on about how the R8 is “the ultimate everyday supercar”. Not anymore. The 720S makes the R8 feel about as practical as a two-legged desk chair and about as exciting. It is, and this isn’t an exaggeration, frustratingly hard to fault.
Moreover, if we had to choose one car from 2017 to keep, it may well have been the big Mac. So why the measly 3rd place?
One word: drama. While the McLaren had us stunned at its ability, it didn’t quite leave the hairs on our arms erect. This is by no means a criticism of the 720S. As a supercar you can drive everyday, it is truly second to none. Let me put it this way: If I had to choose a single car to keep and use everyday, it may well have been the McLaren (or the Panamera, except we’re not married and don’t have kids). However, had doctors given me 24 hours to live, thus giving me time for one last drive, it wouldn’t be the McLaren’s keys that I’d be scrabbling for. And that’s the bottom line.
2. Lamborghini Huracan Performante
You know this car. You’ve heard of the controversial Nurburgring lap times. You’ve heard the accolades. So we won’t waste too much more of your time except for saying that the Lamborghini Huracan Performance is Lamborghini at its best. Having glanced at the spec sheet, you could be forgiven for dismissing the Performante as a mildly more powerfully Huracan with a surfboard strewn across the back. While downforce has increased by a whopping 750% over the standard Huracan, power is up by a mere 21kw, with a similarly underwhelming 40kg being sawn from the bodywork.
Be that as it may, for all of Lamborghini’s rather churlish boasts of lap times and downforce, it has to be said that the Performante is emphatically not a ‘numbers car’. Compare the on-paper numbers to, say, McLaren’s 720S and you’ll leave disappointed. However, approach the Performante as an emotional experience and you will be left staggered. The 5.2 litre V10 serves as a reminder of how bewitching naturally aspirated engines are and sounds as if it’s fuelled by the tears of Italian peasants . You get the sense that if the Performante had arms, it’d happily punch environmentalist Al Gore in the face.
Once you manage to tear your gaze from the retina-locking-tractor-beam, that is, the unapologetically outrageous exterior and open the driver’s door to the cabin, you find yourself welcomed by a cockpit that wouldn’t look out of place in the Millennium Falcon. Completely unconventional and splayed in wonderfully tactile alcantara, it is the definitive supercar cabin.
The Performante ameliorates the Huracan to another level where it can be whispered in the same breath as Ferrari’s 458 Speciale. And that, is the highest praise we can bestow it. Aside from labelling it ‘Car of the Year’ obviously. Which it wasn’t.
1. Ford GT
I have friends like the Ford GT. Feverishly animated friends who, having spent more than 45 minutes with, make you wish an immediate aneurism would rescue you from subsequent communication. However, for those first 45 minutes, they really are the ‘life of the party’ in the truest sense of the overused cliche’. Relationship Rule Number 37: In order to preserve relations with an ‘intense’ friend, interactions should always be restricted to small doses.
And that really is the Ford GT all over.
Having been developed and produced almost directly alongside Ford’s 2016 Le Mans winning race-car, the GT is about as accommodating as an abandoned tin-shed. Except worse.
Open the worryingly light dihedral doors and you are welcomed by a cabin that’s about as bare as Vladimir Putin’s chest. For your $450,000 (US Price) you get a dashboard with a screen and switchgear not dissimilar to that found in a base Focus, two underwhelmingly basic bucket seats that are positioned closer together than the tattoo on my uncle’s arm, aaaaaand that’s about it. Oh, plus a schizophrenic steering wheel. And don’t go looking for any storage either, because there isn’t any. Aside the tiny hatch located behind the engine that’d struggle to fit Richard Hammond’s head.
Turn on the engine, a 3.5L twin-turbocharged V6 which shares 60% of its components with an F-150 pickup, and your ear drums instantly implode on themselves. You get the sense that the Ford’s sound-deadening engineers were all on strike when the GT was developed. Or deaf. Either way, it is L-O-U-D. Even more shocking than the engine’s shouting ability, is its primitive thirst that’d shame Boeing’s own 747 (16.8 L/100km is the official combined figure and coincidentally matches the original figure set by the old supercharged V8 in the GT of 2005).
As a road-car then, it is unashamedly compromised.
Which is, exactly the point.
See, the GT isn’t interested in cosseting you, as the driver, in lavish luxury. Isn’t concerned with your physical wellbeing. Rather, for the short time that you are able to enjoy the GT before your back caves in, it is completely and utterly focused on giving you the single greatest ride of your life.
While the numbers are certainly impressive (350km/h top speed, 482kW/tonne, just to name a few) and apart from the fact that it’d give most cars, short of a P1 or LaFerrari, a bloody nose round any race-track you care to mention, the highlight of the GT experience isn’t found in its ability to cover ground at an unrelenting pace or its mind-blowing performance- but rather how every component gels with each other to epitomise the thrill of driving in a singular package.
It also looks absolutely sensational.
In track-mode especially, where the GT drops a full 50mm and the rear wing towers above the rest of the body, it could well be the supercar shape of the 21st century. From the wing mirrors to the astonishing ‘flying buttresses’, nothing, and we really do mean nothing, has been designed without a consideration for aerodynamics. And yet, despite allowing science to dictate so much of the GT’s design, Ford have somehow still managed to retain that delicious iconic shape of the GT40 racer from 1964, paying homage to the ravishing lines of the original blue-collar ‘Ferrari-beater’.
THE FINAL WORD
Back in 2015 when Ford took the covers off the now-GT supercar, we were ecstatic. Then they told us that it’d have a V6. We were less so after that. We can’t tell you how many nights we stayed up stressing over this decision because we lost count after 2 years of continual, self-diagnosed, insomnia.
It turns out that our fears were totally unfounded, and thank goodness for that.
The McLaren 720S is the more accomplished supercar, the Lamborghini Huracan Performante, the more worthy poster child. The GT though, hits the sweet spot, securing its place as perhaps 2017’s definitive supercar- the most exciting of them all.
Ladies and gentleman, will you stand to to your feet for the 2017 Ford GT. It’s got character. It’s got soul. You can even choose to delete that horrid infotainment screen by speccing the even lighter ‘Competition Pack’ (which you absolutely should), thus rendering our sole gripe with the GT irrelevant.
It is, without a slither of doubt in our mind, our Car of the Year for 2017 and it should be yours too. Full, capital, Stop. Just don’t drive it for too long or you might change your mind.
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Photography Credits: Manufacturers