It’s a new year – and that means it’s time to reflect back on the previous 12 months with our top car picks. Okay, we know we only launched in September, but our team of writers has been testing cars throughout the year, meaning we got a pretty good handle on the lay of the motoring land in 2017.
So, in no particular order, and in no particular class, here are the top cars we tested in 2017. Which would you most like to see on your driveway?
We’ll start with an obvious one. Anyone who’s driven the Golf GTI immediately gets why it’s so special. The GTI is a combination of incredible practicality (packaged into a small form factor) and superb dynamic ability. We recently tested the updated Mark VII, with an extra 10 bhp and a new infotainment system. Not as fast as the Golf R, but as far as we’re concerned almost without fault, the Golf GTI is the definitive hot hatch. Read the full review here.
Audi S5 Coupe
How would you like a German coupe that drives as well and feels as luxurious as a Bentley Continental GT, but costs about a third of the price? That’s basically what the Audi S5 Coupe is. We drove the standard version of Audi’s new A4 at the beginning of 2017, and we were suitably impressed. But when we got our hands on the S5, which comes with 354 bhp, 3.0-litre, turbocharged V6, we were blown away. Check out the full review here.
Porsche 718 Cayman
It may make a rubbish noise, but the Porsche 718 Cayman is a seriously well sorted car. Even in ‘base’ guise, it delivers more speed and excitement than you could possibly ever need on public roads – and we reckon it’d be a blast on the track, too. A couple of annoyances in the arrangement of the cabin don’t deter us from recommending the Cayman as one of the finest drivers’ cars going. It really is that good. Check out our video review here.
Who knew that the world needed a tiny SUV that’s about the size of a family hatchback, but slightly raised? To be honest, we’re still not convinced that the world does need such a car, but Audi has completely nailed the class brief with the Q2. While it’s essentially a raised A3, the Q2 feels as special and premium as any of Audi’s other SUVs. And it costs about AED 40,000 less than the Mini Countryman, the only car that can hold a candle to the Q2 in the class. If you’re looking for a tiny crossover, the Q2 has got to be the one. Head here for the full review.
The fact that the Bentley Bentayga is so unnecessary is what really makes us fall for it. Let’s face it – if you’re looking for an uber-luxury SUV, you’ll be more than satisfied with a Range Rover. But if you’re willing to spend about twice as much, Bentley will sell you the ultimate expression of luxury SUV motoring. Imagine driving about in Buckingham Palace, and you’re on the right track. Oh, except you’ll be doing 0-100 km/h 4.0 seconds and be able to scale any mountain or bash any dune. Much want. Here’s our review.
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT
Another full-size SUV that’s silly-fast, the Grand Cherokee SRT makes the list simply because of the monster under its bonnet. It’s a naturally aspirated, 6.4-litre HEMI V8, good for 475 bhp. The 0-100 km/h time is 4.8 seconds, meaning it’s slower than a few cars on this list, but the way it delivers its power is incredible. The slightest blip of the accelerator will result in a distant but stomach-wrenching rumble, while flooring it will unleash a torrent of adrenalin-fuelled fury. Flick the drive selector to Sport mode, and everything is dialled up to 11 – you get more noise, more drama, more grin-inducing responses. It’s wonderful in just about every way if you like your full-fat V8s. Hats off to Jeep for that one.
Ford Mustang 5.0 GT California Special
A late entry, we tested this iteration of the Ford Mustang just a couple of weeks ago, but it was so good that it had to be included on this list. Essentially, this is everything you want a Mustang to be – it’s fast, good-looking, and actually quite reasonably priced. You get a 5.0-litre V8 that develops 435 bhp, meaning this Mustang is good for 0-100 km/h in 4.4 seconds. And this thing will actually handle – really well. The California Special trim is the icing on the cake – you get special-edition rims and interior flourishes, making this a really special car. Check out our video walkthrough.
Given its success with the Cayenne, is it really any surprise that Porsche’s Macan compact SUV is properly good? We tested it out in ‘base’ trim, meaning we got a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo engine developing 250 bhp. While that doesn’t seem a lot, the Macan is light, meaning it’ll still do 0-100 km/h in just over 6 seconds. Plus, that lightness is a blessing around the corners – the Macan feels and acts like a proper sportscar. No other compact SUV delivers driving thrills quite like the Macan. Keep an eye out for our review soon.
We’re rounding off this list with a sensible entry. Like the Golf GTI is the definitive hot hatchback, the Tiguan is the definitive compact family SUV. It’s practical, it’s economical, it drives well, and it’s supremely comfortable. Oh, and prices start at AED 90,000 with loads of kit as standard. Given that it shares loads of parts with the Audi Q5, we’d say that’s the bargain of the century. In fact, we wonder why you’d pay so much more for the Audi when the Volkswagen is so well sorted.