The Best Cars Of 2017
We’re not a typical car-review magazine. We aren’t going to compare rear leg space, or debate the merits of different interior plastics – we’ll leave that to the experts. But here’s what we will provide: the eight cars that get our heart rates racing, and for the right reasons. Fast, furious, and most importantly, fun. Choose right, and you don’t have to sacrifice the enjoyment of the drive for the practical decisions that work, home and family life demand. You can have both, and they don’t have to come with an Italian hypercar pricetag. Here are our favourite drives that we were lucky to test in 2017, and why you should be getting behind the wheel of one of them.
Related: Should Guys Drive Convertibles?
Luxury sedan of the year
BMW 5 Series 520d
The pleasure cruise(r)
It’s seven generations later, and the Bavarians have got it right. Again. This sleek, pedigreed sedan does business, comfort and driving pleasure equally well, and it has more tech than a Silicon Valley lounge. Powerful, efficient, and versatile – our kind of business partner. bmw.co.za
Price R782 100
Fuel 4.7l/100km* | CO2: 124g/km*
Runner up Volvo S90 T6 AWD
Family car of the year
Audi Q5 2.0TDI Quattro
The quiet conqueror
It’s a tough market, but this is a very capable, solid car, with a premium, refined look. It excels on the road (where it’ll live 95% of the time), but it also revels in weekend duty on jeep track and farm roads. But let’s be honest here: if you have the cash – spring for the sublime SQ5 option. audi.co.za
Price From R698 000
Fuel 4.9l/100km* | CO2: 129g/km*
Runner up BMW X3 (out in Dec)
Small car of the year
The urban ninja
Small, but perfectly formed. This third-gen model isn’t going win drag races, but it crushes the daily commute. It has a great spec level and surprisingly good interior, looks fantastic, and the warranty is a winner too. Plus, the boot is bigger than you’d expect. kia.co.za
Price From R134 995
Fuel 5l/100km* | CO2: 116g/km*
Runner up Ford Fiesta
Luxury SUV of the year
Land Rover Discovery S
The superlative SUV
The ultimate in luxury and versatility, this handles both on- and off-road duty with more comfort (and black magic suspension) than any other car; and the 3.0l 6-cylinder turbodiesel engine offers decent performance (190kW and 600Nm) and consumption figures, considering its size and weight. landrover.co.za
Price From R980 000
Fuel 7.8l/100km* | CO2: 207g/km*
Runner up Porsche Panamera
Related: Should Your Next Car Be a SUV?
Bakkie of the year
Toyota Hilux 2.8 GD-6 4×4 Raider
Nothing is more controversial in our country than the bakkie brand wars. This race was close; but this immortal beast edged it (for now – there are a few new competitors rolling in soon). This potent truck (130kW and 450Nm) offers never say- die reliability and performance – that cemented it for us. toyota.co.za
Price R589 800
Fuel 8.5l/100km* | CO2: 225g/km*
Runner up Ford Ranger Wildtrak
Hatchback of the year
The ass-kicking all-rounder
The perfect example of compound interest. It just gets better with every release, and it’s a solid entry into our five-car dream garage. Handles grocery runs as well as chicanes, and it destroys its petrol peers when it comes to interiors. PS – we loved the GTD and ‘normal’ Golf too. vw.co.za
Price R545 900
Fuel 6.4l/100km* | CO2: 149g/km*
Runner up Audi S3
Convertible of the year
Mazda MX5 Roadster
VROOM WITH A VIEW
It may not have ridiculous amounts of power (118kW), but it’s light and beautifully balanced, and thrives on curves, bends and weekend drives. It’s more of a scalpel than an axe. It also offers one of the most satisfying manual gear boxes. Scores very high in the daily drive happiness-versuscost stakes. mazda.co.za
Price R441 700
Fuel 6.7l/100km* | CO2: 156g/km*
Runner-up Ford Mustang Convertible
Performance car of the year
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
The four-leafed cleaver
You had us at Ferrari engine. But if you need more motivation: just look at the lines, and then turn it on. It’s throaty, visceral, and offers tar-tearing power (the 2.9 V6 engine is good for 375kW and 600Nm), and the build quality isn’t like the Alfa of old. Oh, and it does 0 to 100 in 3.9 seconds. alfaromeo.co.za
Price R1.4 Million
Fuel 8.5l/100km* | CO2: 198g/km*
Runner-up Jaguar F-Type SVR
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Turn the ignition on your next adventure
Here are our favourite road (and off-road) trips to conquer with one of the cars above. Just remember to buckle up – the only statistics we like are horsepower & torque numbers.
1. Storm’s River
Explore the winding roads and rocky outcrops, and then hit the white water on a tube or a raft – or take on the scenic Otter Trail.
Rev the needle on the flat, straight roads on the plains. Then take on an MTB route or spelunk at the Cango Caves.
3. Waterberg Meander
A 350km self-drive route with plenty of views and natural highlights in the biosphere.
4. The Panorama
This drive in Mpumalanga includes the Blyde River Canyon and the highest tar road in the country. Take a fishing rod.
Granted, the EN1 Mozambique is no longer a lesserknown route, but if you haven’t done the 12-hour-plus trek to this spot, you need to. Don’t rush it – and then reward yourself with swimming, surfing, snorkelling and diving, in this wild coastal town.