Welcome to the MOTOR Awards for 2017, where we recognise the best and worst or the year.
Below are our picks for Best Looking, Hardest Charger, and Biggest Surprise.
BEST LOOKING: Ford GT
This year some gorgeous metal has broken cover. So much so that sitting down with mates to argue which one’s the prettiest might end in tears.
The short list? Lexus’s LC500 scores a mention since it will always look like it’s en-route to a motor show. Then there’s the Alfa Romeo Giulia, a sharp, sculpted, and stylish Euro sedan. Mazda’s MX-5 RF looks like a shrunken F-Type, which is a definite positive, and Aston Martin’s DB11 continues the model’s tradition of oozing cool and opulence.
But the Ford GT has blown them all out of the design studio. Thanks to its focus on uncompromising performance it looks like nothing else. Take those flying buttresses, which prove Ford chased aerodynamic efficiency doggedly when designing the GT.
The interior seats are fixed into position, with adjustable pedals helping to accommodate different-sized humans instead, and the 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 behind them was chosen because it’s the smallest engine possible that could meet power targets.
This meant Ford could shrink wrap the bodywork around the cabin and drivetrain into a teardrop shape. LMP1 racecar engineers will tell you this is the most efficient way to scythe through the air. And like the cars in the World Endurance Championship’s top category, the GT’s rear wheels live outside the cabin.
Designers then seized the opportunity to place the engine’s intercoolers in front of the rear wheels without upsetting the gaping air channel down its flanks. And herein lies the dual purpose of those buttresses.
They bridge the charged air from the intercoolers into the engine bay, but also connect the bodywork from the rear haunches to the roof, so that the car looks cohesive from the rear three-quarter. Oh, and they also produce downforce.
However, they’re not the only design elements multi-tasking. Those circular rear tail lights are a nod to the original, but peek closer and you’ll see they’re filled with vents that exhaust air that’s passed through the radiators. Meanwhile, that wraparound windscreen, dual exhaust, and leading edge on the nose are cues inspired by the Ferrari-crushing GT40.
As cool as these details are, you only need to step back to appreciate the GT as a whole. It’s achingly beautiful in how its aggressive lines hide in its ground-hugging silhouette. Ford’s also nailed its proportions by using minimal overhang, and its body crouches behind its wheels, which look huge despite being a relatively common 20-inch size.
Yet, with so much happening, you can’t single out a detail that shouldn’t be there. To think it was designed in top-secret, by designers and engineers during overtime, baffles the mind. Such is the level of thought seeping from the Ford GT’s sexy carbon fibre and aluminium skin, we’ve called it the best-looking rig of 2017. Don’t agree? You know our email address.
HARDEST CHARGER: Koenigsegg Agera RS
How could it be anything else? In recent months the Koenigsegg Agera RS has completely rewritten the record books in terms of production car speed.
It began by blowing away the Bugatti Chiron’s 0-400-0km/h record on a less than ideal surface, but it turns out this was just a warm-up.
On a closed road in Nevada, Koenigsegg not only shattered its own 0-400-0km/h record (down to just 33.29sec, almost 9sec quicker than the Bugatti), but also topped out 457.49km/h, in the process setting a new production car speed record with its two-way average of 444.66km/h.
And it achieved all this with a US customer car, who simply wanted to see how fast it really was.
BIGGEST SURPRISE: Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk
The surprise here isn’t that the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is particularly amazing, but that it works at all.
The regular Grand Cherokee SRT is good fun, but not exactly the sharpest of handlers; it certainly doesn’t strike you as a car that would necessarily be improved by a supercharger and an extra 183kW/250Nm.
But not only does the Trackhawk work, it works well.
Sure, it’s massive money for a Jeep (estimated $140K) and at almost 2.5 tonnes it’s no ballerina, however, it looks tough, sounds like Armageddon and can hit 100km/h in 3.7sec, which will be more than enough for most people.