By Nauman Farooq
Another year is coming to a close, so time to reflect back over the last 12 months and recount the best cars tested this year.
Rather than make a ‘Top 10’ list, in which a few of the same style of vehicles can get named, this year I thought I’d simplify the process by creating just three categories and naming the overall winner in each!
Let’s start things off with –
Despite its time on the market, it doesn’t look dated at all, and it still makes people take double glances. Many people who commented on the car, said they didn’t expect Kia to offer such a vehicle, and some even said, it looks too good to be a Kia!
The Stinger, after all, was made to change people’s perception of Kia, and nudge the brand upmarket. The Stinger can hence rightly compete with the likes of the BMW 3 series, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and the Audi A4/A5.
Going the Kia route, you’re going to get all the infotainment technology and comfort features you’ll find in its German rivals, with one big exception – the Stinger is going to cost you quite a bit less – more of that later!
Propelling your Stinger down the road, you have a choice between two engines. The base GT-Line trim gets you a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder unit that produces 255 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Upgrade to the GT or the GT Limited, and you’ll now find a twin-turbocharged 3.3L V6 motor that develops 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. Regardless of the motor, all Stinger models get an eight-speed automatic gearbox, and all-wheel drive as standard in Canada.
My tester had the latter powertrain, and Dear Lord does it impress!!!
The power delivery is smooth and comes on strong. The chassis and steering does an excellent job of handling the power and just hurling you down the road + it sounds good. If you like driving, and yet you need a practical car that can carry your family and all your shopping (this is a fastback, after all), you will struggle to find a better car for the money.
Prices start at $39,995 (but that’ll get you the GT-Line model with the four-cylinder motor). A loaded GT Limited (featuring that awesome twin-turbo V6) is yours from $49,995 – that is a lot less than what the Germans or even the Japanese will charge you for an equivalent vehicle.
The Stinger GT doesn’t even drink that much, as I averaged 11.2 L/100 km – which for a car with this much performance is quite good.
So, it’s the perfect car, but what if you’re looking for a different type of vehicle?
This one ticks off a lot of boxes in one go! If you’re looking for a practical, sensible SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) or CUV (Crossover Utility Vehicle), the Jaguar I-Pace will do that. If you’re looking for a very environmentally clean vehicle, than the I-Pace really scores because it is a fully electric vehicle, with a very usable driving range – about 377 km on a full charge.
You like your vehicles to be quick? The I-Pace satisfies here, too. With 400 hp on tap, thanks to its electric motors, this all-wheel drive ute can sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in about 4.9 seconds. So, in short, the I-Pace can be all things to all people, and it does that with style!
Pricing for the Jaguar I-Pace starts from $89,800.
While the I-Pace serves your daily needs, but what if you’re looking for a weekend toy?
If you want to talk about a vehicle that just tugged at my heart strings, than nothing I drove all year won me over quite like the new BMW Z4.
To be honest, before I got to drive it, I wasn’t a huge fan of the new Z4; I like the way it looks, but it’s not perfect!
While I’ve enjoyed driving all generations of the Z4, none had won me over to the point where I ache to own one – that all changed with the Z4 M40i that I drove this year. This can no longer be regarded as a kiddie sports car, the Z4 has grown up to become a proper sports car. It goes well (Zero to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds, in my testing), stops well, handles well, and the sound produced by its turbocharged 3.0L inline-six cylinder motor (382 hp and 368 lb-ft of torque) will have you grinning from ear to ear, every single time you drive it!
Topping things off, this roadster even has a beautiful interior that is trimmed to perfection, and you’ll end up with one of the most satisfying cars I’ve ever come across.
Now, to the best part, it isn’t even outrageously priced! A base Z4 (with a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder motor) is yours from $62,650. The M40i version (as tested) starts from $76,100.
Trust me, that is not a lot of money for what I consider to be the best car I’ve driven all year – especially, when it could even be the best I’ve driven this decade!
Happy New Year everyone, see you in 2020!