We have the category winners (missed them? Check them out here, here, and here) for Supercars.net’s car of the year 2016; three very different interpretations of what an automobile can be, but all excellent in their execution. Here’s where we sort the wheat from the chaff and name our 2016 car of the year.
Read on to find out which category winner will emerge victorious.
When we say that these are three very different cars, we mean very different – we have an all-wheel-drive hatchback built for maximum smiles-per-mile, a mid-engine convertible rear-wheel-drive supercar designed by science for maximum driver engagement and ludicrous lap times, and a front-engined, rear-wheel-drive super saloon designed for pure style and driving pleasure. So where do you start with a trio like this?
Let’s start with the underdog. The Ford Focus RS took our hot hatch of the year title for its commitment to delivering a fun and fast driving experience to its driver without the need to compromise on practicality or comfort. In that sense it embodied the essence of what a hot hatch should be more than any of the other cars in the running. But against its rivals for SC.net’s CotY, can it take the heat?
The McLaren 675LT Spider, our supercar of the year, seems absolutely worlds away from the Focus RS, but both have a fairly common theme – they harness cutting-edge technology to give the driver a better experience. The fact the Macca has three less seats than the Focus might make the circa £250,000 price difference between the two seem ludicrous, but what it loses in practicality over the Focus the McLaren more than makes up for with its absolutely insane numbers.
In a head-to-head shootout on a track it’s obvious which would post the quickest times, but in the hands of the layman enthusiast would the big supercar or the little hatch provide the most value in terms of performance that could be extracted? Where the 675LT is out-of-this-world incredible it’s also realistically unattainable for around 95% of the world’s population. Plus the Focus has torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive for when you want it to stick to the road, and the divisive drift mode button for when you don’t, making its performance even more accessible.
But isn’t mysticism and inaccessibility what supercars are about? The Focus RS can be your everyday icon but I’d rather have a McLaren 675LT poster on my bedroom wall any day. I can go for a walk in town and see a Focus RS parping and blatting through its exuberant, boy-racer exhaust pipes at the lights, or scraping its massive splitter on speed bumps. The McLaren is more an occasion than a car, and after a sold-out limited-run of 500 coupes and 500 Spiders, spotting one in the wild is about as likely as going for a walk in the Lake District and bumping into a flock of wild panda bears.
And so we come to our third contender – the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio – and it is a truly lovely thing. Combining supercar looks with saloon-car levels of practicality; it represents possibly the greatest value of all three cars in this shootout.
It’s hard to argue with the supercar credentials of an Italian car with a 503bhp, 2.9-litre V6 designed by ex-Ferrari engineers, and yet the Quadrifoglio has four doors, seats five and has a boot to boot. It matches the Focus RS on practicality and, thanks to the marque’s motorsport heritage and Italian bloodline, meets the 675LT in the desirability stakes. And it does 0-60 in 3.9 seconds, tops out at 190mph – proper supercar performance figures. I’m not saying it would be as able as the 675LT Spider round a track but here in the real world, 99% of the time you’ll be going just as fast.
There’s also still something clinical about the way the McLaren goes about its business. It’s ludicrously fast, yes, but in a sense it feels cold, where the Alfa warmly welcomes you and entices you to drive it hard every time you get behind the wheel.
It’s not the one I expected to choose when I sat down to write this article. It’s won the hearts of motoring writers and fans all over the world, pumping hot blood into a manufacturer that many feared had gone cold years ago. It’s the Supercars.net Car of the Year 2016. It is the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio.
What’s your Car of the Year? Let us know in the comments, or on Twitter!