Our favourites over the past year
In the spirit of the holiday season, here are our absolute favourite road tests from the past year.
This year, we decided to change up our “Annual Favourites” and do full-on awards for cars that truly deserve a mention. Any car that we tested in the 2013 calendar year is eligible, and the entire team got a vote. Thank you all for your support and feedback over the past year! Happy Holidays!
Best Styling: 2014 Jaguar F-Type
This was the one runaway winner. There wasn’t one staff member that didn’t think the Jaguar F-Type deserved the styling award. In fact, if there were an award for the best exhaust note, it would have won that too. Pricey as it may be, the F-Type is absolutely stunning, and we have no doubts that it’s a timeless design that will be appreciated for years to come. The as-tested price on our V6S tester was $100,000 on the dot.
Best Family Vehicle: Hyundai Santa Fe XL
A vehicle that wins purely based on value, the Hyundai Santa Fe XL is a road-trip favourite of ours. A full-loaded Limited with saddle leather will set you back $43,000, and is essentially unbeatable for that price. A similarly-equipped Pathfinder or JX35 (now QX60) would be a bit pricier, but the Santa Fe comes with AWD and a 6-speed automatic rather than a CVT. This one gives off the aura of a premium SUV without the price tag.
This is the first time we have had an unbreakable tie. The Infiniti Q50 Sport is an overhauled sedan that tugs on the everyday performance driver’s heartstrings. Also available in all-wheel-drive and hybrid models, our pick is the RWD Q50S available for under $48,000. Its just-as-Japanese cousin, the Lexus IS350 F-Sport also won us over. Its video game-like instrument cluster and sweet exhaust note are hits, and the 8-speed automatic sourced from the IS-F is equally great. 2013 was a great year for sport sedans.
Best Sports Car Under $50,000 : 2013 Subaru BRZ Sport-Tech
There are quite a few solid sports cars under the $50,000 ceiling. The Hyundai Genesis Coupé 3.8GT, the Ford Mustang, and the Mazda MX-5 are some names that come to mind. The overall winner though, was the Subaru BRZ Sport-Tech. A price tag under $30,000 for a car that can be driven at 10/10ths of its potential every day is a feat that’s a lot harder than it looks. The BRZ has earned a soft spot in our hearts and there’s no doubt that it’s deserving of this award.
Best Sports Car over $50,000: 2013 Audi TT RS
This is the second year in a row that the TT RS is winning this award – it’s just that good. It’s truly unfortunate that Audi has pulled the plug on this model for the 2014 model year, because nobody else makes a turbocharged 5-cylinder that puts out 360 horsepower. The 6-speed manual is an exceptionally sweet gearbox too. We can only hope that in coming years, Audi keeps this engine around and puts it into other products.
Best SUV/Truck: 2014 Range Rover Sport
All-new for 2014, the Range Rover Sport is easily the sexiest SUV on the road right now. Even our tester, which was painted in a green that would typically be unflattering, somehow managed to earn it this award. It’s gorgeous, it has appeal, and on top of everything, it’s efficient. This is the first Land Rover (er… Range Rover) product we have tested that returned better than 10L/100km. Definitely not something to scoff at. It’s important to note that this is the Sport’s second year in a row winning this award.
Best Eco Car: Tesla Model S P85
The Tesla Model S is not only an innovation on its own, it just might represent the future of motoring. It’s insanely quick, very controllable sideways, and of course, dead silent. We tested it in the winter, so our range anxiety was at an all-time high, but the P85 should get 450-500km in regular driving on a full charge. As-tested price is just over $100,000, but the Ontario government gives you $8500 back as an incentive.
Biggest Surprise: 2014 Ford Fiesta ST
Even though other media outlets had already raved about it before its arrival to our garage, we weren’t expecting the Fiesta ST to be this good. Just a five-minute drive can have the most serious person giggling like a child. The Recaro seats hug you tightly while the turbocharged 4-pot boots the little orange pumpkin around any corner you can throw at it. A price tag under $30,000 makes this an exceptional value.
Overall Favourite: 2013 BMW M3 Coupé
The few days we had the Imola Red 2013 M3 Coupé around, it seemed that we were doing more driving than working. It’s quite sad that this is the last year of the V8-powered M3, though we are confident that the new twin-turbocharged motor will be typical BMW-levels of good. Equipped with the dual-clutch gearbox, our tester M3 definitely had the highest smiles-per-kilometer factor.