Testing and writing about cars enables us to explore the various paths automakers have carved.
Despite having multiple categories for our Annual Awards, there are always many honourable mentions that don’t quite make the cut. Perhaps they were runners-up, or maybe they actually won awards, but these cars are very special. The Editor Picks are the cars that did something more than win in overall driving dynamics, technology, or power numbers. They may not be the fastest, most luxurious, or quirkiest, but these vehicles captured the hearts of our team and will be entered into our all-time hall of fame. These are the cars we would spend our own money on, given the right circumstances. Thanks for reading! –Editor-in-Chief
Adi Desai – 2017 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider
We drove more crazy stuff in 2016 than ever before, and it seems that cars in every single segment are getting larger, faster, more efficient, and more technologically advanced – all at the same time. The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider takes a step back in many ways, eliminating basics like power-assist in the steering, and any sort of electronic nannies. The body is a carbon tub, it’s difficult to get in and out of, it has a very harsh ride, and the manual steering means it’s a pain to park in tight spaces.
In spite of these flaws, the 4C Spider is one of the most involving, passionate, and emotional cars available for sale today. There is an absurd amount of connection between the driver and the car, and cruising down the road on a chilly summer night while taking in the sunset is a friendly reminder of simpler times. There are cars that are technically better, faster, and safer, but I guarantee none of them will increase your heart rate in the same manner as this Alfa does. Welcome back to Canada, Alfa Romeo – we can’t wait to see what else you have in store for us.
Louis Vo – 2017 Ford Focus RS
Every once in a while, a car comes along that sets the world – and internet – on fire. Hot hatchbacks lately have been delivering blistering performance for the dollar, all while retaining their everyday usability. Last year, the VW Golf R was the hot ticket; it even managed to give occupants a relatively premium ride and feel. This year, Ford has turned the wick way up with the Focus RS. Nitrous Blue is one of the best colours available today, and the dance this car will do with you on a racetrack is simply unrivaled – at any price.
Detractors will pan the poor ride quality and interior quirks, but in the name of performance, the Focus RS just dominates. Its trick all-wheel drive system moves power around to individual wheels in a way you can actually feel, and its ability to launch you out of a corner apex is nothing short of astonishing. It’s the track time that has decided it for me: the Ford Focus RS is my pick this year, for the smiles per dollar ratio and usable year-round packaging.
Zack Zeraldo – 2016 Chevrolet Camaro 2LT
Late in the summer I spent a week with a car that fit me very well; the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro 2LT, equipped with the eight-speed automatic. The V6’s 335 horsepower might pale in comparison to the big V8’s 455, but it still scoots the Camaro to 96 km/h (60 mph) in a brisk 5.1 seconds, making the V6 more than enough fun for all but the most serious drivers. In fact, it’s been noted that the V6 Camaro’s lighter front end and better overall weight distribution make it much easier to handle out on the track. Beyond just speed, the Camaro’s chassis is an absolute joy to pilot. The steering is responsive, tight and weighted perfectly.
The Camaro takes corners with authority and zero body roll, and is loads of fun to toss around. The V6 also boasts outstanding efficiency, with my average for the week at 7.8L/100km, amazing for car of this caliber. A good car is about more than just the performance though, and Chevrolet has made some big improvements to the Camaro’s interior, making it a very pleasant place to spend time. The powertrain coupled with the latest tech like 4G-LTE WiFi, Apple Car Play, and a big 8” touchscreen, makes this Camaro my ideal daily driver and a car I’d be happy to park in my driveway.
Jerry Vo – 2017 Volvo S90 T6 Inscription
Last year, I picked the 2016 Volvo XC90 T6 Inscription as my favourite of the year. Take that wonderfully designed SUV, turn it into a car with more car-like driving dynamics, and you have the S90. I haven’t been a huge fan of anything that Volvo put out during the Ford era, and it’s refreshing to see that they are taking the automotive industry by storm with excellent new products. The S90 is beautifully designed around their SPA platform (Scalable Product Architecture), with our test vehicle painted in a stunning Mussel Blue, incorporating all of Volvo’s current design cues.
The all-new S90 has the best interior in the business, with unparalleled comfort in its price range. the twin-charged four cylinder Drive-E engine is punchy yet efficient, and the Bowers & Wilkins audio is still the best I’ve ever heard in a factory sound system. The XC60 and S60 series of cars are next to receive an update, which will be hotly anticipated. Honourable mentions go to the Cadillac ATS-V Coupe and Volkswagen Sportwagen (including Alltrack).
Krish Persaud – 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350
Though I appreciate and carefully evaluate every car reviewed, I’m a purist and a muscle car guy at heart. My own garage has two V8-powered Chevrolet Camaros in it, and I look forward to each Mustang, Challenger, and Camaro that graces the DoubleClutch.ca test fleet. In the spring I was tossed the keys to the new Shelby GT350, and I anticipated it would be a slightly beefier version of the Mustang GT, with a flat-plane crank under the hood.
I could not have been more unprepared for the noise that met my ears as this beauty hit 8,200RPM. The 526 horsepower peaks at 7,500RPM, but it’s still pulling hard past that. The six-speed manual with a perfectly weighted clutch and great shifter is a joy to row through, and the immediate power delivery of the naturally aspirated 5.2L V8 immediately makes turbochargers and superchargers feel, well, inadequate. This is the car that followed me into my dreams, and it’s my de-facto pick of 2016.
Chad Eusepi – 2017 Dodge Charger SRT 392
Testing and writing about cars enables us to explore the various paths automakers have carved, through a landscape of outstanding design and complex engineering. Sometimes these cars bring out emotions that are otherwise untapped, and every so often I will drive a car that forces me to uncontrollably grin with pure joy. It’s these cars that make me want get up early just to hear the exhaust on a cold-start, then stay up late to drive ceaselessly into the night. Back in September I drove the one car that to this day still roars on in my head.
It boasts a sound comparable to the beat of a marching band drum unit, painted in a colour that will surely turn heads. The Dodge Charger SRT 392 is my Editor’s Pick for 2016. It’s not the most luxurious and it may not be the most powerful, but for a base price of $55,995, you get a whopping 6.4L V8 with 485 horsepower, plenty of interior space, and an gearbox that imitates a gunshot with every pull of the paddle. It may not be a Hellcat, and for $23,845 less I’d opt for the SRT 392 and use that saved money for the guaranteed trips to the fuel pumps, which no word of a lie, are completely worth it.