As the year comes to a close, it’s time to take a look back at some of the most special cars to come out over the past 12 months. Forget the Bugatti Divo and the Rolls Royce Cullinan. These are the cars I think are the best of the year – I know, how selfish.
The first car I’ll speak about here is more of a gradual love rather than love at first sight. In fact, when the Ferrari 488 Pista was unveiled at this year’s Geneva, I wasn’t particularly impressed. The car just seemed like any old Ferrari with some aero and stripes. I thought this for quite a few months until I went to Le Mans where they unveiled a special edition and I got to see the car in person. This is where my obsession started. In person, the Pista looks so much more aggressive than in photos. The aero winglets and holes seem more purposeful making it look track-focused. Finally, I got to see the car again at the Circuit de Catalunya, or Barcelona to some. This was during the Ferrari Challenge event there and as the customers were going round, there were a few Pistas. At this point, the looks had come round to me but I still wasn’t sure about the sound. However, after seeing and hearing pound down the main straight, I realise that no car should be judged by what they sound like in videos. Not only do the turbos sound like they’re turning faster than the earth, you can still hear the V8 engine burning more fuel than the entire population of Dubai.
Here’s another car that I fell in love with after seeing. The Brabham BT62 is a crazy piece of Aussie engineering. Just like all the other cars from Down-Under, the Brabham has a crazy amount of power. However, unlike other Australian cars, Brabham have tried to contain that power using civilised brakes, suspension, and even downforce. I was lucky enough to see this car at LeMans as well. In fact, Michelin had it parked right in front of their hospitality area on a plinth. It looked very dedicated to speed is all I will say. The reason this car is on this list is simple. I love the story behind it, I think it’s a crazy beast of a car and I always say that if you want a fast car, it should be made for the track and only just work on the road. This is probably one of the closest representations of that “brief”.
Another car that fits the description of my ideal fast car is the Dallara Stradale. However, the Dallara approaches it in a different way than the Brabham which makes me love a bit more. The Stradale is a lightweight low power - if you consider 395bhp low that is – supercar. It is almost surprising anyone has bought it at all. It has no doors, no roof and no comfort. However, you do get to jump in it like you’re in a 1980s American police film. It shares its engine with the 3rd generation Ford Focus RS and weighs just over 850kg. Furthermore, with the optional wing, it can produce its own weight in downforce at 241km/h. Theoretically then, it could drive upside down at that speed although, the fluids and driver will drop it down on its roof if you try it. As a Motorsport fan, I have always loved the idea of getting the most out of a certain amount of power and this car most definitely does that.
Speaking if getting the most out of something. The Hyundai i30N is probably the best hot hatch for your money. At only 27,500€, the Hyundai is undercutting most of the other competitors in the hatchback world. Reviews around the world have said how much fun it is to drive whilst being safe on the road. This is exactly what you want in a hot hatch. I hate the cars like the RS3 or Focus RS with their complicated 4-wheel-drive and massive amounts of power. Hatchbacks are for the everyday driver looking to have a bit of fun once in a while. They are not meant to be galaxy destroying battleships with more power than a collapsing sun.
Mégane RS Trophy
Another car that came out this year following the traditional idea of a hot hatch was the Renault Mégane RS Trophy. RS meaning Renault Sport, it is a brutal little machine and seems like great fun to drive on small twisty roads. Being slightly more expensive than the Hyundai, the Mégane is clearly more technologically advanced. In fact, you get to choose between a manual or auto gearbox, you get rear-wheel steering and you get the same engine as found in the Alpine A110 sports car. Being an Alpine fan myself, that last detail makes me melt inside.
Speaking of melting inside, this is the car I fell in love with the most this year. The Stinger DLS is a wonderful piece of automotive design. It brings together the beautiful shape of the old Porsches with the ducktail and mixes it with the best performance elements of the 21st century. In my mind, any old car brought up to date is a great idea. It is actually a dream of mine to own a 1960s Mini with modern parts such as a new engine, infotainment system and most importantly, brakes. Finally, the modern additions on the outside of the DLS manage to make the car look futuristic. Every time I look at photos of it, the lights make me think of films back in the 60s imagining what the future would look like.
That’s the end of my list, let me know what cars of the past year you would add to this list in the comments below.