Picks of the Year 2016 - Part 2

Sat, 28 Jan 2017 | Latest News
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Sport:Ford Mustang

David Thomson and Richard Bosselman conclude their review of cars that made a real impression last year by picking their SUV and sports car favourites, as well as an overall winner.

David's Picks
Sport: Ford Mustang
SUV: Mazda CX-9
Utility: Holden Colorado
Overall: Mercedes-Benz E350d

Sport: Ford Mustang

Having a Mustang to test on my birthday last year was a true treat, with the time spent behind the wheel of the latest interpretation of this iconic machine firmly etched into memories of that special day. But the Mustang is also a gift that keeps on giving: each and every time I see one out on the road, I cannot help but break into a grin.

SUV: Mazda CX-9

The latest CX-9 excels on multiple fronts, boasting a stunning cabin, outstanding refinement, and impeccable safety credentials. Decent economy (for a petrol SUV) is achieved alongside respectable performance, and while a diesel version would be better yet, even without that option it still sets new standards for large mainstream crossover
SUVs.

Utility: Holden Colorado

While VW has been obviously clever with the Amarok variant that caught Richard's fancy, Holden has put in the hard yards on multiple fronts in a thoughtful upgrade of the Colorado. Improvements in comfort and refinement are the obvious advances, but it also gains new safety systems, and has become a better on-road steer.

Overall: Mercedes-Benz E350d

In a week with the E350d version of the new E-Class, I spent far too much time marvelling at its array of advanced new-generation driver assistance and
safety aids, and far too little considering how brilliant it is in other respects.The car that can, for short periods of time, drive itself, is also possessed of one of the finest cabins to grace a vehicle of its class. Its adaptive air suspension can deliver a limousine-quality ride in its most comfort-oriented mode, but little ride comfort is lost in open-road motoring in sports mode. Then there's the match made in heaven that is the marriage of the 350d's 190kW/620Nm six-cylinder turbo-diesel engine to Mercedes' latest nine-speed automatic transmission. Strong and unruffled, this is a drivetrain combination that ticks economy (5.6l/100km) and performance boxes (0-100kmh in 5.9sec) simultaneously.No wonder the new E-class came up trumps with New Zealand Car of the Year honours for 2016.

Richard's Picks
Sport: Ford Mustang
SUV: Jaguar F-Pace
Utility: VW Amarok V6
Overall: Ford Focus RS

Sport: Ford Mustang

Sure, you'll find the quality from Flat Rock, Michigan, isn't seamless, and the interior balances between chintzy and bland, but tech-wise, it's not as dinosaur-like as those yesteryear styling cues might suggest, is good value and, above all else, it has massive X-factor appeal. Mustang mania is a certifiable disease. The greatest American hero.

SUV: Jaguar F-Pace

As utterly alien as it would seem to the brand's founder, here's a car that wholly meets the famous ‘‘grace, space and pace'' promise. Any first effort is bound to have a couple of blemishes; yet despite a couple of foibles and one or two flaws, it has every chance of steering this brand into new territory.

Ute: VW Amarok V6

Give a car-like one-tonner a commanding powerplant? There's an idea we've been promoting since the Amarok was born. It's marriage at a cost: the $82,990 Aventura is now the most expensive doublecab one-tonner on the market, but VW is certain that, among private purchasers, price is potentially less important than power.

Overall: Ford Focus RS

The USP of an enlivening and entertaining drift mode, whose pros and cons can be debated until you're as blue as the Ford flag, is a great conversation
point, but beyond that is a true masterpiece. That it is not as polished in all respects (mainly in the cabin, where you find a too-high seat) as some far more expensive German options tends to be forgotten once you find a challenging road/track and loosen the reins.

Zero to 100kmh in 4.7sec and a top speed of 266kmh are captivating figures, but it's the explosiveness of this engine and exquisiteness of the chassis that makes this car so very special. A WRC-style rally car for the road isn't for everyone, but you'll feel cheated by not experiencing something like this in your lifetime.

An utter enthusiast's delight.