As we embark on an (exciting) new year promising innovation galore, I look back on 2017, and my favourite cars.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the last of the local manufacturers ceasing local operations. Holden was the last man standing, but keeping local production as a sole auto maker was not possible.
This followed the withdrawal of support by the Australian Government, and the now infamous “dare” by the federal treasurer. The government prefers instead to support mining and media barons than local jobs.
Now that I have that off my chest, let’s get to the cars:
2: LEXUS LC500
This sexy coupe comes as either a lusty V8, or environmentally conscious hybrid, at the same cost.
3: Ford Mustang
What list would be complete without the best loved muscle car in the country. Despite the slightly disappointing safety rating of 2 stars early in the year, 2017 was a stellar one for Ford’s drop dead gorgeous Lust Machine.
I loved this car. I loved it a lot. I felt like a cross between Al Capone, and a bond girl. I had to get in and drive as far as I could, sharpish. And, I did. I started in Sydney, went to Melbourne, and back. My road trip was done in the most appalling 45c Australian summer.
It threw everything at us, and my face only melted off when I got out to for a waz.
I crossed half a continent, and loved every moment.
A strange and mysterious car crafter by an even stranger and more mysterious company. The cult-like status is amplified by the enigmatic CEO, Elon Musk.
It delivers on its promises with a 0-100 time under 5 seconds. In fact, it is under 3 seconds, well and truly in super-car territory. The cutting-edge styling doesn’t stop at the sheet metal, but continues inside in a strangely 70’s interpretation of what a 21st century car would look like.
There is scarcely a switch to be seen, with all controls being subsumed by a tablet the size of a small moon smack in the middle of the centre console.
In many ways, it is the Citroen DS Pallas of the modern era.
If the Cray twins were alive today, this is what they’d drive.
5: Subaru WRX
A perennial crowd pleaser, Subaru’s plucky WRX is just superb. Naysayers will probably pooh-pooh this choice, but to them I say, “who cares?”
The AWD mini-muscle car is the “otter” of the car world. It is the pocket rocket at the gym with a close shaved beard, shaved legs, and a muscle top. You know the one, right? He could leg-lift his own weight without breaking a sweat, while holding cocktail in one hand, and iPad in the other.
In the manual-only STI, WRX is still all things to all people, even if they won’t admit it.
Like the WRX STI, Ford Focus RS is butch beyond belief. It says a lot about its owner, but nothing comes across louder than “I have nothing to prove, to you, or to anyone else”.
The sound is fabulous, the grip ferocious, and acceleration face ripping. All four wheels tip the balance of performance in the favour of anyone brave enough to take it on.
I was brave enough, and I did it all in the name of journalism, or at least that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
Look into the gaping, fire-breathing throat, and see what we thought about it here
7: BMW 750Li
The Granddaddy of all posh uber-barges, BMW’s super-luxurious long wheelbase limo cocoons its occupants in pampered 7-star-style. A TV for each passenger, a foot stool, a fridge for champagne, and full control of climate, audio, and seating, from a tablet secreted in the rear armrest.
All seats are heated and cooled, even in the back. You could spend the journey sleeping while reclined at a gentle angle, or work, eat, and drink, at your personal picnic table, protected from the envious, or disapproving glares of those outside. All rear windows have electric shades.
This frisky European, driven by Bathurst legend Steve Owen, was as fast and agile as a much more expensive badge. Steve told me why he thinks the RS245 is at home on a race track as it is on a leafy boulevard.
The handsome stranger takes me deep in to the Balangalo National Park, and back. A pedigree to match its looks, the Land Rover does everything it says on the box.
9: Mazda MX5 RF
All the looks of a soft top, and all the security of a hard top, this convertible is just the ticket for a fab weekend away. It is versatile enough to be used daily, but sexy and fun on your days off.
10: Jaguar F-Type
One of the most beautiful cars ever created comes in at number 10. We drove the coupe and convertible models, and, there is simply no better car to be had, at any price.