There’s a saying that goes, Christmas only comes once and this is similarly the case with our annual AutoBuzz.my’s Best Cars of the Year video.
Unlike Christmas however, there’s no need to set aside our differences for a greater good. Instead, as with every year, we celebrated the diversity and differences of all the supercars and high performance wheels we’ve had the privilege to drive with the Top 6 featured in this 2018 edition.
Brought to you in collaboration with Bosch, this year’s line up is unlike any other; with the Ferrari 812 Superfast, Aston Martin V8 Vantage, Mercedes-AMG E63 S 4MATIC, Lamborghini Urus, Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo and the Volkswagen Golf R making up the ranks.
Denis: With a 6.5-litre V12 sitting up front, you’d think it has too much weight over its front wheels. With 800 hp and 719 Nm channelled through to the rear axle, you’d imagine it to feel all “squirrely” and a total handful. But, no and no, the Ferrari defies physics. The first thing that hits you is how light the steering is (even in the scariest mode), how delicately the throttle responds and how refined the powertrain is – subjectively, the Superfast is on a different plane compared to the rest here.
Even the ride is supple, as far as supercars go. Like a scalpel with four wheels, the Ferrari is a weapon of high precision, its mission is to carve an imaginary racing line on roads you drive on, with every tiny input eliciting a soul-gratifying reaction. It’ll reward a skilled hand handsomely, yet it doesn’t intimidate a beginner either. What a thing.
Eu Jin: At full throttle, the Ferrari 812 Superfast was by far the maddest road-legal car I’ve ever driven. If you thought it had a silly name like I did, a quick 100 metre sprint in it, will change that perception. Never have I felt such a slow-creeping yet intense head rush solely from the flex of my right toe without having to ingest industrial-amounts of substances.
Steering response was bar none to anything I’ve ever gotten behind the wheel of. The time it takes for the car to react to your steering input was probably faster then what it took for your brain to deliver the message to your hands. As for the up and downshifts, well, have you fired a shotgun before?
Denis: There is no compulsion to mention James Bond when describing an Aston Martin, but in the flesh, the Vantage could be the prettiest co-star Agent 007 will lay hands on. It’s a bit of a shame that Aston Martin couldn’t spare as as much effort with the interior as they did with the exterior, because with the venerable AMG 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine sitting front midship, the new Vantage has that the sweet balance which Aston Martins are known for.
It doesn’t feel the fastest here, nor the most agile but it is the most communicative; you can easily discern the degree of weight transfer and even tell how much purchase the rear tyres have on the surface. And that ass…James, please don’t bend this one.
Eu Jin: While it may have been my appointed Driver’s Car of the Year, having the privilege of all six stupidly fast cars at our disposal meant I could jump from one to another. You classify the Superfast and Vantage to be supercars but it’s clear that the latter was the more “docile” of the two, despite having over 500 hp and close to 700 Nm at its disposal.
As quick as it was, the distinction was clear. With the Superfast demanding every ounce of concentration you never thought you could muster, the Vantage allows you to tango with it at a tempo you so please. If the old Vantage was a clean-shaven James Bond with a laser pen, this new one looks more like John Wick, lined with every possible heavy armoury within it’s pin-stripped suit.
Denis: If you somehow still think that Lamborghini shouldn’t have made an SUV, don’t. The Urus is a welcomed addition the growing number of high-riding vehicles that behave like supercars. Whilst it may share Audi/Bentley/Porsche/VW underpinnings, the flavour of the Urus is Lamborghini’s own, from the evocative styling to a drive that’s unexpectedly well-rounded. For Lamborghini owners who always craved for a daily driver, this is it.
The Urus will ride smoothly in town and cruise in relative comfort on its air suspension…until you slap the drive mode toggle to ‘Corsa’ to summon a brutal demeanour more reminiscent of cars that wear the raging bull insignia. The manner which the Urus resists roll (it has active roll damping and four-wheel steer) and tucks into corners is alien for something that weighs 2.2-tonne.
Eu Jin: To make the Urus is to allow those who couldn’t afford a supercar back when they were in their 30’s, 40’s or even 50’s, a chance to own a Lamborghini. Lets face it, for a person of obscene financial means, it’s not a pleasant realisation when your belly comes in the way of you getting in and out of the car.
In the Urus, there’s none of that ungraceful nonsense aside from profound presence of all the elements of what makes a Lamborghini, a Lamborghini. Right from the crank of the V8 engine to the fighter jet-like cockpit, the Urus oozes all the excitement a Super SUV should offer. Better yet, you can now share that with four other passengers, without the slightest groan over a lack of headroom.
Denis: One is entirely within reason to expect the Sport Turimo to perform just like how a Porsche would – sporty, with equal measures of performance and handling. And it delivers, but against the backdrop of rapid (and rabid) cars, the Sport Turismo is somehow missing a bit of the usual Porsche sparkle, perhaps weighed down by expectations of its jaw-dropping styling, if not the actual near two-tonne kerb weight. What the Sport Turismo 4S does show is that Porsche is at ease serving up ‘luxury’ as well as ‘sport’, and its impeccably built cabin was my personal pick for the long journey home.
Eu Jin: We could not have done this without the household deity from the temple of automotive gods but rather than showing up, predictably, in a 911 GT3 or GT2 RS, we went for the Sport Turismo instead and in typical Porsche fashion, it did not disappoint.
Sure, the former could render the Panamera as nothing more than a speck on their rear view mirrors but with a precisely-measured interior that looks like a surgery room draped in leather, a body style that finally pleases the eye and a throaty V6 to match its predictable driving characteristics, the Panamera Sport Turismo is a worthy torch bearer of a driver-oriented, four-door Porsche.
Denis: How a car with such a rude exhaust note can pass homologation is anyone’s guess, but it does sum up the E63 S in a nutshell. It’s a relief that Mercedes-AMG didn’t choose the route of the BMW M5 and made it all super refined, nothing really wrong with every day drivability but a proper AMG needs to retain some badass-ness about them, something which the E 63 S has in spades; from the stomach-churning 850 Nm of torque from its twin-turbo V8 to a playful AWD system that prefers rear-wheel drive most of the time.
The lack of decorum befits the E 63 S, this is a super saloon that goads you into taking more liberties and begs for a hard spanking on your favourite piece of tarmac. By far the naughtiest car of the bunch.
Eu Jin: The E63 S can be quite a bit of a confusing mix really; to have so much brute force in a supposed luxury sedan is like a concoction of alcohol that just doesn’t end well as a cocktail. But like a hazardous mix, it’s potent and when that kicks in, it’s nirwana.
With such explosive power, in such an evil facade, this is by far the most cynical set of wheels in Mercedes-Benz Malaysia’s line-up. It should also come with a “buy at your own risk” disclaimer form.
Denis: Yes, the Golf R is hopelessly outgunned here in firepower, but because real-world performance is about coping with driving conditions that are far from ideal and making the most out of what you’ve got, the little three-door Golf turned out to be as good as any in this exalted company in covering ground rapidly, really.
The mechanical package of the R is potent when deployed – we are talking about all-weather traction, instant on-demand response from the powertrain and an agile chassis. Everyone who jumped into the Golf R felt at ease immediately and went fast without breaking a sweat, surely that’s what great hot hatches are about.
Eu Jin: Whichever aspect of the car you’re focused on, the Golf R does not deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the rest of the “million Ringgit club members” but over the course of the two days it spent with the big boys, it was like watching me fight Muhammad Ali till the very last round.
Except for the lack of blistering pace compared to every car but the Panamera Sport Turismo, this thing just stuck on with the pack with the resilience and stubbornness of household flies on a slab of meat. When things got a little wet, slippery and unpredictable, guess which car prevailed and surged ahead without the slightest concern of oversteer? Yeap.
*We’d like to thank Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Aston Martin, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen for their unwavering support in making this possible.
Ferrari 812 Superfast
Aston Martin V8 Vantage
Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
Mercedes-AMG E63S 4MATIC
Volkswagen Golf R