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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 23 January 2019

'The National' Car of the Year 2018, revealed

We have tallied your votes and the results are in. We reveal which car was the king of the road in the past 12 months

Earlier this month, we selected the best 15 cars that The National had driven during 2018. The longlist was a varied one, from an electric SUV to a rally legend and several superb supercars.

Thousands of votes poured in online and the results were hearteningly down-to-earth – not everybody, it seems, is obsessed with flossing in their fancy-pants wheels.

So without further ado, read on for our top 10 cars of the year, in ascending order.

10. Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

An unexpected opportunity arose while testing the also-impressive new Jeep Wrangler among the Sound of Music-worthy relief of the Austrian Alps. Would, the nice people of Jeep asked, we like a blast around the grounds and surrounding area of the Red Bull Ring, home to the Formula One Austrian Grand Prix? Why, yes, we would – we might have suggested that “there isn’t actually the aural fireworks that you might expect to assault your eardrums”, but 707hp in a sizeable SUV just added a bunch of fun to the school run.

Read our mini-road test here

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9. Aston Martin DBS Superleggera

Legendary British brand Aston Martin feels as though it is slap-bang in the middle of a contemporary golden age right now – but if the DB11 and new Vantage were really rather fantabulous, then this super-light super-GT might be the glossy pinnacle of that shiny new era. We took it on a drive to Al Ain and put it through its paces up Jebel Hafeet, one of the finest driving experiences in the UAE. This is the car that Aston likes calls a “brute in a suit”. As we said: “The DBS snacks on the road as if it’s never going to stop being hungry.”

Read our road test here

8. Lamborghini Aventador SVJ

Is the latest extreme Lambo, we wondered aloud at the time, “a gloriously unapologetic, politically incorrect, 770hp farewell to big-engined, old-school supercars”? It certainly seemed that way when we gave it the treatment at the Estoril circuit in southern Portugal. Its 6.5-litre, normally aspirated V12 does remarkable things: 0-to-100kph in 2.8 seconds, 200kph in 8.6 seconds and a top speed of more than 350kph. “I’ve rarely had so much fun, nor felt so in control, of such a wild beast,” gushed our writer, who gladly didn’t bin one of only 900 units of the SVJ that will ever be made.

Read our road test here

7. Subaru WRX STI

End-of-year television programmes tend, at some juncture, to feature an in-memorium section of those we have lost during the previous 12 months. True to type, so does our Car of the Year top 10, because if rumours that have been swirling around the motoring world are true, the WRX STI is supposedly about to join Colin McRae and Richard Burns, the most famous drivers of its predecessor the Impreza, in the great rally in the sky. That would be an awful shame, because it was among the stick-shift highlights of this, or any, year. Its cultural impact continues: see its appearance in slick heist movie Baby Driver, in which a bright-red example was an undoubted star. Don’t do it, Subaru.

Read our feature here

6. Cadillac CT6

One of the first cars we drove in 2018 also turned out to be one of the most remarkable of the whole year. Cadillac’s CT6 wasn’t an especially memorable motor in itself, but one facet gave us a tantalising glimpse into the future of motoring: semi-autonomous innovation Super Cruise. The American brand calls it the “first true hands-free driving technology for the highway”, combining map data and a driver-attention system, alongside cameras and other sensors in the car. We put the CT6 to the test in the wide expanses of Nevada and found the results to be “addictively impressive... pushing the game forward into mass-market cars with genuinely head-turning results”. The sooner the UAE’s autonomous infrastructure catches up, the better.

Read our feature here

5. Mercedes-AMG G 63

Want wasta? You certainly have it in Merc’s revamped G-Wagen – preferably in white, for maximum effect. The results of one of the most radical overhaul’s in the illustrious history of the luxurious SUV – a past intertwined with our region – proved mighty agreeable. That was largely, we noted, “because crucial characteristic touches remain, such as the push-button door handles and the wonderful swing-out back door, replete with its hulking spare-wheel hard cover”. It maintained sufficient links to its lineage in the smoothed-out exterior, while pushing Merc’s luxurious interiors to their logical conclusion. “Four decades on and the spark shows no sign of fizzling out,” was our verdict, and nothing since then has changed that statement.

Read our feature here

4. Jaguar I-Pace

Every single entry on our Car of the Year longlist was originally selected by yours truly (The National's Motoring editor), but if I had made this rundown a purely dictatorial experience, the I-Pace would be sitting atop the standings at the moment. Why? On our test drive in rural Portugal, what initially had begun as ripples of mild intrigue as to how one of the first electric-SUV contenders to Tesla’s throne would stack up soon became a tidal wave of wow. It climbed rocky hillsides; it waded through standing water, despite its floor-mounted battery unit; it zipped along on-road with excellently grounded handling and, well, pace. “Is the Jaguar I-Pace a game-changer for electric cars?” we asked at the time. In a word, yes. Find out for yourself when the Jag, already available elsewhere in the world, finally lands in our region in the second half of 2019. The National Motoring editor’s unofficial award is hopefully some consolation to missing out on the main prize this year.

Read our feature here

3. W Motors’ Fenyr SuperSport

Having already thrust UAE cars into the public eye when its Lykan HyperSport vaulted between buildings at Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Towers in Hollywood blockbuster Furious 7 three years ago, W Motors is making a similarly massive impact in putting the country on the automotive map with its follow-up. After the hologram display and other Hollywood-worthy headline draws of the Lykan, the Fenyr truly went for the performance kill: its high-revving, 3.8-litre, flat-six engine wields an almost freakish output of 800hp and 980Nm of torque. Afterwards, we concluded that it was a “badge of honour that should be worn loud and proud” for the UAE. A total of 844 voters agreed with our assessment, propelling the Fenyr on to the Car of the Year podium.

Read our feature here

2. Renault Duster

If we were handing out trophies for the most improved car of the year, the Duster would win hands-down. Previously a plasticky, ugly, outdated Romanian reject wearing a Renault badge, the SUV has been transformed into a genuine contender fit to take on rivals several price brackets above it. The evidence of its newfound toughness? When we got hold of it in Jordan, one fellow test driver rolled his Duster down a wadi. Several flips later, he emerged from the car unscathed. Renault’s 2018 might have ended in chaotic fashion after the arrest of its boss Carlos Ghosn, but the Duster feels rugged enough to endure scandal and off-road mishaps, as well as scrambling over moderately rough terrain. With 1,800 votes, the Duster is the runner-up in our Car of the Year 2018 reckoning.

Read our feature here

1. Volvo XC40

Nobody can deny the credentials of The National’s Car of the Year: the XC40 has been picking up awards like most of us contract head-colds at this time of the season. A maiden European Car of the Year accolade in March was its first major global gong to come its way this year; last week, it added Women’s World Car of the Year to its already lengthy list of plaudits. Our readers were of a similar mindset, with 2,000 votes cast for the compact SUV, which our writer called “a very desirable machine” and “a genuinely brilliant all-rounder that also happens to be individually styled and exceptionally safe”. The XC40 has a nippy turbocharged 2.0-litre engine that makes it a perfect city runaround, and the Dh185,000 price tag offers a relatively affordable entry in to what has become a premium brand. A round of applause for the XC40, if you please.

Read our road test here

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Updated: December 28, 2018 03:46 PM

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