The Escape to the Country Award: the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio will put a smily on your face
Only the most interesting cars make it onto the Autocar long-term test fleet. But which of our 2017 drives deserve some special recognition? We polled the office to dish out some (imaginary) trophies
When we’re selecting cars to add to our long-term fleet, we’re carefuly to only consider the finest or most interesting machines on the market. Spending an extended period of time in them can reveal hidden depths or faults. So which of the machines we’ve run on our long-term test fleet in 2017 impressed us the most? We asked around the office – and the results are in.
The Escape to the Country Award for the most fun car to drive
This developed into a straight battle between world-class British precision engineering and classical Italian charm and character, with the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio sneaking victory from the McLaren 570GT by the narrowest of margins.
“I was beaming within 100 metres,” reckons editor Mark Tisshaw. “So well engineered, it’s more than the sum of its parts. A near-perfect ride and handling balance, an extraordinary Ferrari V6 engine… I could go on.”
Chief tester Matt Saunders was similarly impressed, noting the Alfa was “capable of brightening any journey with that remarkable rear-drive balance”.
Editorial director Jim Holder led the campaign for the McLaren, saying: “It isn’t just sensational to drive, it can be driven with confidence no matter your level of ability.”
The Subaru BRZ came third, championed by senior staff writer Sam Sheehan, who rarely missed an opportunity to pedal it into the country. Although that could just be a desire to escape Tooting.
The ‘Look At Me, Dammit’ Award for the best car to impress your friends and family with
Perhaps predictably, the Aston Martin Vanquish S claimed a dominant win in this category, which will please editor-at-large Matt Prior, since he nominated it for every single award. While many of those submissions required somewhat tortuous logic (he explained the Aston’s city car credentials by saying “you get let out at junctions”), few would quibble with the Vanquish’s victory here.
He said it “looks equally as good at the opera, a race track or on a Tinder date” – which probably says too much about how he spends his weekends…
Matt Saunders noted the Aston did not just stand out for its looks, adding: “It’s louder than the end of the world.”
Showing that its folding hard-top really has added some flair, the Mazda MX-5 RF emerged in a (distant) second place. Staff writer Jimi Beckwith, a man who knows his style (even if it is occasionally questionable), said: “I don’t know if my family are terrible at identifying cars, easily pleased or just humouring me, but the MX-5 RF got as much positive reaction as any of the supercars on our f leet would have.”
The Top Floor of the Waitrose Car Park Award for the easiest car to negotiate in tight spaces and city streets
We’ll get to the winner in a minute. First, an explanation. This award is so named because Autocar Towers shares a ridiculously tight multi-storey car park with a Waitrose, and the ten-storey ascent to our top-floor parking area provides an excellent test of a car’s agility in tight spaces.
So, er, how did Bentley’s massive Bentayga SUV finish second in an award that should be all about small, nimble machines? People have some explaining to do… Let’s start with Dan Prosser: “Concrete walls, small building, other vehicles – all swept aside by the hefty Bentley as though they weren’t there.”
Andrew Frankel, can you do any better? “Because my man could just drive around the block until I was ready to come out. Or, better, I could give him the shopping list and drive around the block until he came out.”
Hmmm. Guess there’s a logic there, of sorts. Still, ultimately – and in one of the unlikeliest paragraphs you’ll have read in Autocar in some time – the Bentley Bentayga was swept aside by the new Suzuki Ignis.
Describing the Ignis as a “top- drawer small car”, Jim Holder said: “Yes, it looks a little dorky, with its high-ride height and short length, but that makes it perfect for urban living.”
Holder added a prediction: “Another car maker will take the formula, make it more stylish, double the price and be hailed for inventing a new type of car.”
Throw in the Kitchen Sink Award for the car more suited to load-lugging
“You have an E-class Estate on this list and still have to ask?” exclaimed Andrew Frankel. Well, yes, we did, actually – while the Mercedes did emerge as our leading load-lugger, it was pushed hard by both the Skoda Kodiaq and Volvo V90.
Executive editor Matt Burt is the custodian of the E220d estate. As the person tasked with keeping our copy clean and precise, his nomination for the Merc displayed laudable brevity: “Obvious, really.”
Picture editor Ben Summerell-Youde championed the Kodiaq, noting: “It’s massive, and I love the ‘Simply Clever’ gubbins throughout.”
Mark Tisshaw was a fan of the V90, explaining: “I went to Ikea purely for the meatballs and some coat hangers. The coat hangers slid so far into the boot, I had to climb inside to retrieve them.”
And, yes, Matt Prior did nominate the Vanquish in this category, too, “because the boot will hold two sets of golf clubs and the rear seats a 5ft 10in child”.
The Hashtag Spoiler Alert Award for the car that surprised you the most
WINNER: Mazda MX-5 RF …read more