By Nauman Farooq
It’s that time of the year again, when I look back at all the cars I drove this year, and pick out my 10 favourite, or most impressive. This year brought a lot of diversity, from hatchbacks to supercars, and everything in between; so let’s get started, shall we!
10- David Brown Automotive Mini Remastered: If I was to give an award for the biggest surprise, or the biggest grin inducing vehicle, than the Mini Remastered would take top spot.
This boutique, hand-made version of the classic Mini, by David Brown Automotive is just spectacular. It is truly the finest version of the classic Mini that has ever been produced, and blends its old school charms with some modern tech – such as, infotainment system, keyless stop/start, power windows, etc.
Powering the Inspired by Monte Carlo edition of the Mini Remastered -that I got to drive in England back in April- is a 1.3L four cylinder engine that produces 83 horsepower. Now, that might not sound like much, but given the size and weight of the vehicle, and the tuning on the engine, it feels like a little race car!
I honestly can’t remember the last time a car made me smile as much as this one did – it’s truly sensational.
So, why is this vehicle down in the 10th place spot, and not higher? Well, that has mainly to do with the price. To bring home a Mini Remastered, you’ll need to fork out over $128,000. For that kind of money, you can buy a
lot more car, but if driving excitement is what you’re after, than this resto-mod Mini is very possibly your best bet!
9- Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid: Minivans are often not great to drive, nor are they the most luxurious vehicles on the planet – but the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is no ordinary van.
First of all, this is a very good looking vehicle, so no need to feel embarrassed just because you’re driving a minivan. Secondly, it has a truly magnificent interior that has lots of space, and tech. Furthermore, the build quality is quite good; this certainly doesn’t look and feel like any other minivan that I’ve ever come across!
Than, there is the drivetrain. The model I tested this year was the hybrid version, which combines a 3.6L V6 motor with an electric drive system. Unlike most hybrids, you can’t choose when you can drive it in electric, versus gas – it just figures it all out on its own. Plug in into a level-two charger, and in about three hours your battery is fully charged, which will give you a range of about 50 km. Once the battery is depleted, you can carry on with the gas engine. As you’re driving along, the battery gets charged while the vehicle is coasting or braking, and the car will switch back and forth between electric and gas drive, seamlessly.
On top of it all, the Pacifica Hybrid is even nice to drive, so nice in fact that I’d happily drive one for the whole year. Pricing for the Pacifica Hybrid starts at $51,745.
8- Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII: If it is the ultimate luxury vehicle you’re after, than nothing even compares to the new Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII.
This eighth-gen model is the second Phantom generation since Rolls-Royce was acquired by the BMW Group back in 2000, and takes on from where the last model left off. With features like a dashboard that has a art gallery, fully reclining and adjustable rear seats, a floor that can change its angle to better suit your feet, infotainment system built in behind each seat, and so much more!
While a Phantom is very much enjoyed when riding in the back, I was similarly impressed while driving it. First of all, for a huge vehicle, it is rather easy to steer – even through the tight confines of England. Part of that is due to its rear-wheel steering aid, and partly because all the controls are very communicative – this is a big car that shrinks around you.
It’ll shrink the road ahead, too, when you put your foot down! Powering this land yacht is a twin turbo 6.75L V12 that produces 563 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque – which carries this 2,560 kg vehicle with ease.
The new Phantom is all the luxury car you’d ever wish for, but it comes at a price; in Canada it starts from $514,000. Expensive as it may be, it isn’t the most expensive vehicle on my Top 10 list.
7– Genesis G70: Hyundai’s luxury division Genesis is in its second year of operation, and so far the brand has only offered sedans, but they are all very good.
The one that impressed me the most was the G70; Genesis’ most sporty model.
Available in Canada with two engine options, a turbocharged 2.0L inline-four cylinder, or a twin-turbo 3.3L V6 – I tested the latter. This twin-turbo motor produces 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. Power is fed to all-wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. All this is good, but that is not what makes this car notable!
What does make it notable is how it uses the power, and how good the chassis is, and the noise it makes on hard acceleration – this sedan is sportier to drive than many two-door sports coupes. Also, while most cars that can perform well, are not comfortable to ride in; but the G70 even aces in that department.
Pricing is really good, too. The base G70 is yours from $42,000 – while the top of the line model is priced at $57,500. Unlike other manufacturers, Genesis prices are all inclusive of additional fees, the only thing you have to pay extra is the HST and for your plates. I really hope all car companies follow the lead of Genesis and price their vehicles the same way.
6- Dodge Durango SRT: I’ve often looked at fast SUVs as an oxymoron, but the Dodge Durango SRT changed that!
This is a big, comfortable, well built, well equipped vehicle that will do all the chores, and do them all year long – no matter what the weather.
But, put your foot down, and it growls and covers ground like a tiger that just caught sight of its prey! Powering this beast is a 6.4L V8 that produces 475 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. All that grunt is delivered to all-wheels via a quick-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission. Use launch control, and you’ll sprint from Zero to 100 km/h in just 4.7 seconds – making it the quickest three-row SUV on the planet. Sure, your fuel economy is going to hurt if you keep burying the throttle, but you just won’t care, because it is so much fun!
Pricing for the Durango SRT start from $72,645. Hope you enjoyed this week’s list. Be sure to grab next week’s paper to see the rest of the Top 10 of 2018.