Under the hood is no longer a giant V8 motor, instead you get a 3.5L V6. But not to worry, because that V6 motor has two turbochargers, and on full boost, develops 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque, this truck can surely move very quickly, regardless of the terrain – just as long as you don’t care about fuel consumption!
As you’d expect, this is a thirsty truck. Even on a long, smooth drive on the highway, it cannot better 13.2 L/100 KM, as I found out, when I drove one from Mississauga, Ontario to Kentucky, U.S.A., and back. However, on this journey, the Raptor proved to be very comfortable, and simply sailed through the massive rain storm that I drove through on the way down.
Couple that with adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, heated and ventilated seats, and the Raptor is like a premium luxury car, only bigger and tougher.
The price however, is very reasonable, for what this vehicle gives you in return – a base Raptor is yours from $68,399. So, if you’re looking for the ultimate pickup truck, look no further than the new Ford F-150 Raptor.
As you’d imagine, the quality of the fit and finish on the Dawn is exceptional, but what you wouldn’t expect is for it to be a driver’s car!
Bury your right foot into its deep, soft carpet, and you’ll awake its twin-turbocharged 6.6L V12 motor, that produces 563 hp, and 575 lb-ft of torque. Power is routed to just the rear wheels via a smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox, which is satellite aided, to ensure the car is always in the right gear for the bit of road you’re on – effortless wafting, it does that very well. But, thanks to its power, it can even burn rubber, on demand: Zero to 100 km/h is dealt with in 4.9 seconds, and it’ll keep going until it hits its speed limiter at 250 km/h.
But, going fast is not what a Rolls-Royce is all about, it is about covering vast distances in style and comfort, and I can honestly say, I’ve never come across a more comfortable car in my life!
I loved the Rolls-Royce Dawn, and if I had roughly $500,000 to spend on a car, this would be very high on my list.
(5) Callaway Corvette SC757 AeroWagen: I have been writing about cars for 20 years now, and this is the most powerful car I have ever tested!
Callaway has been in the business of tweaking and custom building cars for 40 years now, but don’t think of them as a tuner shop – they are a legitimate manufacturer, and while their offerings are based on other manufacturers products, they do so much work themselves, that Callaway Cars get their own identity. Best bit is, all their work is covered under warranty, so no tensions or headaches to worry about, once you bring their vehicle home.
Over the years, Callaway has offered many customized versions of the Chevrolet Corvette, and starting in Spring of 2017, they added the AeroWagen to their portfolio. This conversion, in appearance, keeps most of the body panels of the Corvette, but replaces the rear hatch. Instead of the large glass canopy that all C7 generation Corvette’s have, Callaway has replaced it with a carbon fiber piece that makes the car appear like a wagon – hence it’s called, the AeroWagen.
This clever design was the brainchild of Dr. Paul Deutschman, who is (in my opinion) the greatest designer on the planet – the fact that he is a Canadian is just an added bonus.
Replacing the rear hatch of the Corvette with this AeroWagen piece changes the whole personality of the car, and I think it makes the car look better.
To make the car drive better, Callaway has upgraded the performance by installing a triple-cooled supercharger, that is quite a bit larger than the unit Chevrolet fits to the 6.2L V8 motor of the Corvette Z06. Bigger supercharger means more power, a lot more – this vehicle produces 757 hp, and 777 lb-ft of torque. All this grunt is fed to the rear wheels, via either a seven-speed manual, or an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Trust me, no matter what gear you’re in, at any speed, you put your foot down in this car, and it just catapults forward – quickly! This car takes just 2.8 seconds to go from rest to 100 km/h, and if you are on the Autobahn, you’ll see its top speed is in the 333 km/h region – the AeroWagen is mad fast!
I got to drive one earlier this year in Bowling Green, Kentucky, U.S.A. and had a blast. It shrinks every straight piece of tarmac, and thrusts forward with a soundtrack that would plant a smile on any car enthusiasts face. Honestly, it doesn’t matter what you’ve driven in the past, drive the SC757 AeroWagen, and you’ll have a really great time.
All this goodness doesn’t come cheap -it’ll run you close to $150,000 to bring one home- but it is a bargain compared to any other 700+ hp exotic. If only the rest of the body was as unique as the AeroWagen hatch -like on the Callaway C12 model, which was produced between 1997 to 2001- I would have placed this car much higher on my list.
(4) David Brown Automotive Speedback GT: Speaking of a custom body, I have never seen a re-skin done as beautifully, and exhibit such high quality, as that of the Speedback GT.
Built in Silverstone, U.K. by David Brown Automotive, this coupe gives you a nostalgic look, but is packed with modern technology!
All Speedback GT’s start out as Jaguar XKR convertibles, but then goes through an extensive conversion. Every body panel is different – including the angle of the windscreen. Its lustrous finish is a result of 21 layers of paint, which is also applied to the car’s key fob. It is no wonder then, that each Speedback GT takes 8,000 hours to complete – even a Bentley Mulsanne takes just 450 hours to build, while a normal car like a Dodge Challenger takes about 10 hours to complete – David Brown Automotive is in a class of their own.
Open the door, and you’re greeted with a great interior, which while retains certain elements from the donor XKR, but is largely transformed, and finished in much higher quality materials. Around the back, it has a split opening tailgate, which is not only unique to the Speedback GT, but also would come in handy for when you want to take your Speedback GT on a picnic!
I was more interested in driving around in it, and I got to spend a really good amount of time with one, as drove it on highways, back roads, and even made my way through small towns. Through all of that, it performed admirably.
On open stretches, I got to flex its muscle. Under the hood is a supercharged 5.0L V8, that produces 510 hp. That is enough to propel this 1,800 kg coupe from 0 to 100 km/h in just 4.8 seconds, and it’ll keep going until it hits its speed limiter at 250 km/h. Want to go even quicker, David Brown Automotive offers a 600 hp engine upgrade, which should spice things up on the road even more.
Despite it’s performance, this is not a car for going quickly, it is the ultimate grand tourer, a perfect companion for covering the length of any continent – apart from Antartica, obviously!
All this exquisite engineering doesn’t come cheap, as the Speedback GT would cost you roughly $830,000 – so if I was handing out prizes based on sticker price, this would be at the very top!
(3) Honda Civic Type-R: This was one of the biggest surprises of the year. I was expecting the Type-R version of the new Honda Civic to be good, but just was not expecting it to blow my mind!
This, $40,890, hot hatch, is a sensation! It might look somewhat like a Civic, which is the best selling car in Canada, but in terms of performance, it takes the nameplate on to a whole new level!
Under the hood is a turbocharged 2.0L, four-cylinder motor that produces 306 hp, and 295 lb-ft of torque. Power is fed to just the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox – no automatic, sorry posers. Put your foot down, and you’ll sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in just 5.0 seconds, and can keep on going until you hit 277 km/h – please don’t try the latter on Canadian roads.
All this is impressive, but I haven’t got to its main attraction yet – that honour goes to its handling. First of all, you expect a powerful front-wheel drive car to have unbearable torque steer – this has none of that. I don’t know how Honda has managed to do this, but the Civic Type-R just manages the power you demand of it, and translates it to the tarmac. Secondly, this car goes around corners like it is on a track. Pretty much all cars, even very expensive ones, don’t really like going around corners – allow me to explain. Cars like to go straight, and when you turn the steering wheel, you can feel a force that wants to straighten the wheel. In the Type-R, you turn the wheel, the steering stays where you’ve asked it to stay, and the car just grips and goes around the corner. You can even adjust the steering angle, while in the middle of the corner, and this car just deals with it, with no drama.
I think, the Civic Type-R might just be the best handling car ever made, that is no small feat to achieve.
Any drawbacks? Well, given that it likes to drink only the finest of fuels, 91 octane or preferably higher, it isn’t cheap to run. It is also a high-strung car, which means, it never really relaxes, hence it isn’t ideal for long journeys. Then there are the looks, which are a bit boy racer-ish, although I quite like that. Trust me, if you’re looking for the best performance car bang for your bucks, look no further than the Civic Type-R.
(2) BMW i8: Two years ago, I named the i8 as my “Car of the Year” – so why has it slipped down the ranking? Well, for starters, the car didn’t change at all in this time – although an update, which includes a new Roadster version, is coming for the 2018 model year. Also something I took into consideration, is that you can buy the car I’ve listed at number one and number three, for about the same kind of money as just one i8.
Don’t think that the appeal of the i8 has diminished in my books, because, as a total driving package, I still think it is one of the greatest cars ever made!
I love its intelligent approach to performance. It is propelled by a three-cylinder, 1.5L motor that is turbocharged – essentially the same motor you’ll find in a 2017 MINI Cooper – although it is tweaked to produce 231 hp, which powers the rear wheels. But that’s not all – powering the front wheels are two electric motors that combine to give 131 hp. When the i8’s lithium-ion battery pack is charged up, you can drive this car purely in electric mode for about 24 km. Furthermore, the battery pack gets charged up every time the car is braking or even coasting, and if you’re cruising around in “Sport” mode; that charges the batteries also.
On top of all this, there is a six-horsepower electric motor mounted to the drivetrain at the back, that sort of fills in for any gaps in power delivery – this is very clever stuff – and as a result, the i8, despite having only a reasonable combined power output of 357 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque, performs better than many vehicles with much more power.
So, 0 to 100 km/h takes just 4.4 seconds, and it’ll max out at an electronically limited 250 km/h.
Numbers are one thing, how the car feels is totally different. The i8 always feels exciting to drive, thanks to its linear throttle response, and a very communicative steering system. It is not even close to being the fastest car I’ve ever driven, but every time I’ve driven an i8, I’ve felt content, and it planted a smile on my face. Some people I know, think that at $149,900 – it is too expensive! I say, these people don’t really understand cars or engineering, because if they did, they’d appreciate what this car gives in return for their investment.
(1) Lexus LC500: If the Honda Civic Type-R was one of the biggest surprises of this year, than the absolute biggest surprise was the Lexus LC500.
Lexus is known for making, comfortable, reliable vehicles; but not usually exciting ones. Over the years, it has given the world some good performance cars, such as the IS F, GS F, and the LFA, but these sort of vehicles have been fairly rare for this Japanese luxury car maker.
The LC500 was something I was really looking forward to driving, because I love the way it looks. When Lexus showed the production version of this car at an auto show, I could not believe that what I was looking at was a real car – not a concept.
Even the interior looks like the stuff you see from a concept car, so to be able to drive around in it, in reality, feels pretty awesome.
The drivetrain is pretty awesome, too. Under the hood is a naturally-aspirated 5.0L V8, that produces 471 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque. All that power is sent to just the rear wheels via a 10-speed automatic transmission – a first for any Lexus model. This gearbox shifts fast and smooth, and under acceleration this car sounds really good – a quality enthusiasts look for in a sports car.
Equally as impressive, is its stability at highway speeds, and also its handling capabilities. No matter where I took the LC500, it was a joy to drive, and drew a crowd when parked.
For what it is, and what it offers, even the price is fairly reasonable – starting from $101,600.
While it would be easier to pick the most expensive car I tested (DBA Speedback GT), or the most powerful car (Callaway Corvette SC757 AeroWagen) as the car of the year, I often look at which car I could live with, every single day of the year – and with that in mind, the Lexus LC500 is the one I could happily spend the next 365 days with.