Sport, SUV, utility, overall cars of the year

Sat, 20 Jan 2018 | Latest News
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Abarth 124 Spider. Photos: supplied

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: Mercedes AMG C63 S
SUV: Skoda Kodiaq
Utility: Toyota LC70
Overall: BMW 530d





Richard's picks
Sport: Abarth 124 Spider
SUV: Hyundai Kona
Utility: VW Amorak V6
Overall: Skoda Kodiaq


AMG C63 S cabriolet The good folk at AMG are masters at adding a special touch to a Mercedes-Benz. Their work on the latest C-class cabriolet is a case in point, as the AMG version so wonderfully captures in a single package two permutations of a sports car: open-top summer motoring on the one hand; stunning performance with a soundtrack to match on the other.



Skoda Kodiaq My SUV favourite is fellow contributor Richard
Bosselman's overall pick of 2017, as well as being New
Zealand's recently crowned Guild of Motoring Writers' Car
of the Year. I especially loved its fabulous cabin, clever
equipment choices, and easy-going roads manners. Highly
competitive pricing completes a compelling picture for
Skoda's first mid-sized SUV.


Toyota LC70
It may have been re-engineered to secure (amazingly) a
5-star safety rating, but the LC70's point of difference
remains its status as the most ruggedly capable old-school
off-road ute available in New Zealand today. Taking it on
a clambering run over challenging rutted and hilly tracks
was one of my least comfortable but most satisfying
motoring experiences of 2017.


BMW 530d
Man flew to the moon
and back in spacecraft
with less computing
power than is contained
in the key fob of the
latest 5-series BMW.
Among its many
functions, that fob
allows one to drive the
vehicle by remote
control, starting and
manoeuvring it in and
out of parking spaces
without even climbing
If that's the party
trick, how much
substance underpins
the car itself? A massive
amount, spanning the
quality of the cabin, a
suite of leading-edge
active drive and safety features, exemplary ride and
handling, and the smooth prowess of its drivetrain.
Already selected by Richard Bosselman as his large car choice in xDrive Touring guise last week, the 530d M-Sport version of the 5-series saloon is my overall favourite car of the year just past.



Abarth 124 Spider
Italy's only budget roadster comes out of Japan: discuss.
Well, my local Mazda MX-5 owners' club did, and all agreed
this version was not at all unpalatable. I concur. The
oversized badge on the boot should go, but every other
Abarth bit - the turbo engine, the seats, the suspension -
makes this a more marvellous kind of Mazda.


Hyundai Kona
Resistance is futile. Crossovers and SUVs are taking over
the world; we're all getting high on elevated suspension
and dirt-tuned looks. Whether the Kona does the job off-
seal is not of huge consequence. In its sub-sector, it's all
about the style, the spec and, to some degree, performance
sizzle. Kona wins because it looks great, is well-stacked
and price-burns the opposition.


Volkswagen Amarok V6
I picked this model last year, too, but little's changed in
local ute-dom since then. Giving the most car-like one-
tonner the most commanding power plant hasn't been a
cost-effective option - the Aventura variant is the most
expensive double cab one-tonner on the market - but
VW's prediction that price would be less important than
power has been well proven.



Skoda Kodiaq
Kodiaq does more than
any other new-age
Skoda product to
redefine what this brand
is now all about.
Naturally, as a
flagship, the $58,290
Style TDi was going to
impress. It has the most
of everything: best tech,
best comfort, best
engine (for grunt). And
it’s four-wheel drive. It
should be good. And it is.
What’s most
impressive, though, is
this: even as the line’s
premium product, the
Kodiaq on the market
still seems remarkably
good value when
measured against virtually everything else it comes up
against. Actually, it seems unbelievably good value.
If you want a medium-large seven-seater with more mod

cons than anything else in the sub-$80k sector and the best
practicality, for the best money, then this is it. By a country