Another year, another batch of new cars. Some of them we can dismiss instantly for being the automotive equivalents of white goods – tools designed for daily use that ignite no more passion than do refrigerators or tumble dryers (and it’s for that very reason you won’t find a Volvo – which turned up at the recent LA show with a stand devoid of automobiles beneath the slogan “This is not a car” – in this selection). Others, maybe just as practical, warrant more serious consideration, perhaps for a certain ingenuity of concept, superior driving dynamics, inspired packaging or styling – or, best of all, a combination of two or more of the above.
And then there are the handful cars we simply go nuts about, generally because they’re fast, look sensational and make lots of noise – machines aimed at the exhilaration of the journey itself rather than merely trundling partner and brats from A to B. Indeed, it’s often said that the joy of travel is less about the destination than the getting there – and the 10 cars we present here have been created with exactly that in mind.
FERRARI SP1 MONZA
The pair of limited-edition Ferraris unveiled last autumn – the SP1, as you see here, seats one and the SP2, well, guess – may recall the Monza sports- racer of the mid-1950s, but as they’re based on the current 812 Superfast grand tourer they’re also unfeasibly rapid as well as stunning to look at. A combined production run of just 499, however, means a price of around US$1.75 million, and that’s an awful lot of money for a car with no roof and, with the SP1, no passenger seat either (though on reflection, perhaps that privilege is worth paying a substantial premium for after all). no matter, the Monza is so amazing we want one anyway – and, while we’re at it, we’ll take the matching Berluti bags that have been designed for it too.
MCLAREN 600 LT
When McLaren whipped the covers off the 600LT at the recent Asian reveal, what did we all photograph first? The exhaust pipes. Hmm. But then not many cars these days sport a pair of flame-spitting orifices protruding from their rear deck, do they? Its pants-on- fire capabilities aside, the LT, which is built in a run limited not by numbers but cut-off date (production ends this October) drives as fabulously as it looks, nudges McLaren’s entry-level Sports Series into genuine supercar territory (which we always thought it inhabited anyway), and could well turn out to be a pretty smart investment. residuals aside, though, to say we’re taken with the 600LT is understatement indeed. We love it. Desperately.
RANGE ROVER EVOQUE
Nope, that’s not a hippo emerging from a water hole, but the second-generation Evoque, which, though you’d be amazed from its appearance, is pretty much all new. In fact, the car beloved as a school-run express by groovy mums the world over has always been a far more capable piece of kit than its chic exterior suggested, and this latest iteration not only gets improved on-and off-road dynamics but also mild-hybrid engines (full hybrids come in 2020), sparkier performance and an interior that’s more spacious and luxurious.
LAMBORGHINI AVENTADOR SVJ
Gloriously over the top when it first appeared in 2011, Lamborghini’s hyperbolic range-topper has lost none of its ability to astound. Packing 760bhp from its mid-mounted 6.5-litre V12, the swansong SVJ is fast enough to have demolished the production-car record at the Nürburgring, and new aero additions mean it resembles a cross between a stealth fighter and a bat out of hell even more. We, however, treasure this naturally aspirated monster because it belongs to a fast-disappearing breed of extravagant automobiles that, once driven, can never be forgotten.
Word on the block is that after years of being derided as a hairdresser’s car, the Z4 has finally morphed into the proper driving machine it always should have been. The new car certainly looks the part, and with a 336bhp straight six mounted way back in the engine bay of the range-topping M40i, and interactive suspension and steering too, the right ingredients are now clearly in place. Even better, this new Z-car also forms the basis for a new Toyota Supra coupe that’s said to be harder still, a prospect that has petrol heads drooling in anticipation.
MERCEDES-AMG GT R PRO
We’re massive fans of Merc’s AMG sub brand and are frankly bamboozled as to which of their estimable products we’d want to be driving in 2019. However, the new limited-edition Pro version of the GT R wins out, partly because we love the racket of its twin-turbo V8 and partly because of its hooligan demeanour (though we understand the suspension has received major surgery), but perhaps most of all because we’re suckers for its retro-inspired styling, which here looks even more out-there than ever.
BENTLEY CONTINENTAL GTC
What do you do when you build the world’s greatest grand tourer? Obvious: you chop the roof off. Because assuming you do it properly (and with Bentley that’s a given), you make said GT even more astounding. Thus the new Conti GTC, with all the storming effortlessness, wafting comfort and eye-watering luxury of the tin-top version, but lower the lid – and you’re aboard a speedboat. If you were wondering who said, “Anyone fancy a quick dash down to Monte? Last one there buys dinner,” it was probably you – the continental does that to its owners.
There are some who say that in cramming in the tech, Audi has dialled out the passion from its cars. Granted there’s more than a hint of truth in that but to redress the balance, look no further than Audi Sport and its range of R and RS models. Heading them up is the brilliant R8, which this year gets a subtle makeover – and as this budget supercar remains one of the few machines in the world to boast a naturally aspirated 5.2-litre V10 beneath its rear engine cover, it more than earns its place on this year’s list.
We’re baffled as to why we decided to include Jeep’s new Gladiator on this list, because we’re fans neither of pick-ups nor SUVs. But one look at this hunk of heavy metal, stripped down for off-road action and loaded up with MTBs (we’d pretend we’d ride them but probably wouldn’t) has us pining for the great outdoors. In fact, this life-size Tonka Toy is one of the coolest cars we’ve ever seen – and even if it were total rubbish in the rough (which as it’s a Jeep we kind of doubt), we’d still want one.