x

Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Motoring year in review: 2017's most-popular road tests

From SUVs to a two-seater sports car, plus a surprise winner, these are the vehicles that drove our readers in 2017

The BMW R NineT Scrambler in Dubai. Antonie Robertson / The National
The BMW R NineT Scrambler in Dubai. Antonie Robertson / The National

While 2018 is already promising to be a vintage year for car fans, the previous 12 months weren’t too shabby, either.

But what were the most popular cars that we drove in 2017? Handily, we have the technology to find out exactly which automotive eye candy got your collective motors running, so read on to find out what were the top seven most-read road tests by The National since January.

The results certainly reflect the preferences of UAE drives, with premium SUVs and luxury full-size cars dominating somewhat, but fun is also a feature, with a two-seater sports car and an on/off-road motorbike for good measure. Happy New Year.

The 2018 Audi SQ5 on the roads near Salalah, Oman. Look out for blustering crosswinds. Audi
The 2018 Audi SQ5 on the roads near Salalah, Oman. Look out for blustering crosswinds. Audi

7. Audi Q5/SQ5

While our review of the 2017 SQ5 griped that it struggled with “a few too many niggles to ignore”, Audi seems to have fixed up its premium compact SUV with its self-trumpeted “all-new” follow-up. “Is it "all-new"? Or simply the same as before, but slightly better?” asked our reviewer. “When the results are as good as this, who cares?”

The Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge is a favourite of France midfielder Paul Pogba. Roger Harrison
The Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge is a favourite of France midfielder Paul Pogba. Roger Harrison

6. Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge

If you have a million dirhams and change to splurge, there isn’t much slicker on the roads than the sports-tricked version of Rolls-Royce’s already bullet-quick coupe. Gautam Sharma was suitably charmed: “Rolls-Royce quotes a 0-to-100kph split of 4.5 seconds… although its acceleration is unfurled with such velvety smoothness that it’s a bit like being in an Airbus A380 in take-off mode.”

5. Volvo XC60

The Chinese-owned Swedish carmaker claims its new compact SUV is one of the safest cars ever made, something that Gautam Sharma thankfully didn’t have to put to the direct test while navigating some tricky rural roads on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. He noted that the safety-feature-jammed Volvo was “arguably the best looker in its class” and “very capable and desirable”.

The Porsche 718 Cayman in Abu Dhabi. Delores Johnson / The National
The Porsche 718 Cayman in Abu Dhabi. Delores Johnson / The National

4. Porsche 718 Cayman

The most fun that this writer had in a sports car in 2017 was in Porsche’s dual 718 line-up of the Cayman and Boxster – both in this and, to a greater extent, the latest 2018 models in Spain recently (look out for our feature on the latter later this week). The verdict was a little controversial, too: “Baby Cayman or grown-up 911? I would opt for the former and pocket the change. The choice would still be tight if the prices were closer. The Cayman really is that enjoyable.

The Chevrolet Trailblazer in Dubai. Antonie Robertson / The National
The Chevrolet Trailblazer in Dubai. Antonie Robertson / The National

3. Chevrolet Trailblazer

The current generation of the American medium-large SUV has a strong UAE link: it made its world debut, in concept form, at the Dubai International Motor Show in 2011. The Chevy screams sensible, although it adds genuine off-road chops to a sector that often does little more than scaling kerbs outside school gates. Gautam Sharma found that it was a “credible mix of all-terrain capability and cosseting mod-cons”.

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class in Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class in Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National

2. Mercedes S-Class

Given the popularity of the Germans’ self-lauded “best car in the world” in the Emirates, it is perhaps unsurprising to see that the big S-Class was the second most-popular road test of the past 12 months with our readers. The half-million-dirham luxurious loafer comes packed full of tech, albeit with plenty of optional extras to further empty your wallet – but as we concluded, when you “see that famous badge sitting proud atop the crest of the bonnet, it would be hard not to feel a little swelling of pride”.

1. BMW R NineT Scrambler

Even though the only motorcycles you generally see on an average day in the Emirates are usually be those in the hands of delivery drivers, don’t underestimate the sheer enthusiasm and commitment of the country’s strong biking community. And with comfortably more than 1,000 hits above the second-placed Merc, this Beamer, which Antonie Robertson lauded as being full of “retro cool, with a touch of modern, both in terms of style and performance” trumped all the four-wheel competition in 2017.