The five best cars of this year so far

The five best cars of this year so far
The five best cars of this year so far

We count down the finest new cars of 2017

There have been a delightful number of new cars this year, many of them either totally new or major redesigns or upgrades. We wanted to answer the question of which is the best one in 2017. We narrowed it down to the final five, and below we count you down to our best car of the year. Here we go, five, four…

5. Aston Martin DB11

Aston Martin DB11

How does Aston Martin do it? The DB11 feels excitingly new and fresh yet at the same time it’s as familiar as an old friend. The English company has stayed true to the V12 front-engined concept, with a 2+2 coupe with Grand Tourer written all over it.

Because it is so new in so many ways, there are a few aspects that aren’t quite perfect otherwise the DB11 would undoubtedly have been higher than fifth. But that’s carping, the car is a proper Aston Martin and possibly represents the largest single leap forward the company has ever made.

The V12 sounds glorious but this is no Hush Puppy special, it’s got a seriously sharp edge to it when you poke it with a stick. This is a grand tourer that can set fast lap times, helped further by a chassis that has the suppleness and comfort you dream about but don’t often find.

All this and that classic English cabin, full of gorgeous leather and wood and, hurrah, even an infotainment system that isn’t plain annoying. We expect the DB11 to mature and be around for a long time yet, so we look forward to featuring it even higher in a future competition.

4. Volkswagen Golf R

VW Golf R

This is one of those benchmark cars. It’s a family hatchback with immense daily practicality, yet here it is, mixing with classy coupes, exotic saloons and full-on supercars. If there was a crowded car park, this is the only one of the five you might walk by without a second glance. Yet here it is.

It’s here because it does everything so spectacularly well. There’s immense and flexible clout from the four-cylinder turbo petrol engine, and it has the sort of chassis that shows what happens you take something good and refine it and refine it. The fact that it can handle this well yet ride so comfortably is one of the marvels of the modern world.

It’s been mildly tweaked, with a slightly better cabin and a touch more power, but the Golf R remains a landmark that cars many times the price fail to equal.

3. Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Where did this come from? Alfa hasn’t produced a decent rear-drive saloon for many, many years, nor has it made much of a fist of a serious V8. Yet, as if from nowhere, we have this stunning saloon.

It is indeed an Alfa Romeo. Which means the price is eyebrow-raisingly high, the brakes are strange, it uses a lot of fuel and the cabin falls short of the premium price by a margin.

Yet it’s an Alfa Romeo. Which means that it’s had some input from Ferrari engineers, and it shows. The steering, in contrast to the weight of German competitors, is light, endlessly communicative and incisive. Combine this with handling which is lithe, alert and responsive, and you have a driving experience that is blissfully perfect.

Welcome back Alfa Romeo, you’ve livened things up again.

2. McLaren 570S

The second British car to counter the Italian and German competitors. While this impressed mightily on the track, where it really blew everyone away was on a dodgy Welsh back road that was in the process of being repaired. There was a big drop off one side. This was Wales – the road was soaking. And we had 562bhp behind our heads.

The 570S showed just how practical a supercar it really is under those conditions. We went fast but we went safely and, even more incredibly, we went comfortably. With Normal mode switched in there’s enormous compliance in the chassis, far more than you’d imagine looking at those racing lines.

If you’re looking for a practical and almost sensibly priced English supercar then look no further, but keep looking because this is a car that has untold depths in so many areas. It’s the car that best represents all the experience and expertise contained within McLaren.

1. Porsche 911 GTS

Porsche 911 GTS

This is Number One, and it’s all about numbers. Let’s face it, for 99 per cent of the time your dream car is just a car, stuck in traffic, on a mundane errand or a commute or whatever. It has to be practical. And the 911 GTS really is, with occasional rear seats, a decent boot, good visibility and a quiet drive at sensible throttle angles. But then you press the throttle further.

And it’s at this point that you’re glad you kept the numbers down, particularly the one preceded by the pound sign. Because the best 911 GTS is this one, the entry-level model, with rear-wheel drive with a manual gearlever. Stripped of complex auto transmission, all-wheel drive and so much more, this model delivers 100 per cent of what you want.

You’re plugged in, part of the machine, slotting the gears through a military-grade gate, while that delicious and monstrous power is played with by both your right foot and the chassis. The car is light, 145kg lighter than a 911 Turbo, the steering is sublime and the whole scale of it feels almost compact next to say the McLaren 570S. For that 1 per cent of the time, it’s beyond mathematics.

Whatever you’re doing, whether driving to see the in-laws or barrelling home down a favourite country lane, the Porsch 911 GTS in this guise is simply better than 100 per cent of all other cars.

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