Posh wheels worthy of dreams for a prosperous new year
There is no perfect car.
There are, however, perfect cars for certain situations, SUVs for rolling with friends, convertibles for sunny days, town cars for drivers to take you to meetings.
The trick is knowing which model in a given segment and price range is best suited to what you need. Every year it changes, too. Some models get upgraded and refreshed, others fall behind as their maker focuses on new endeavors.
In the spirit of “New Year, New You” here are rides that bested their competitors in some special segments that deserve your precious time and possibly even hard-earned cash.
Best SUV: Tie, Bentley Bentayga and Tesla Model X
Bentley’s 6.0-litre W12 behemoth gets 600 horsepower on an all-wheel-drive, eight-speed automatic transmission. It’ll go to 60 mph in four seconds and hit a top speed of 187 miles per hour. It is the world’s fastest SUV and easily the most luxurious: hand-stitched trim, accoutrements galore (picnic basket and champagne, anyone?), more of them than any other SUV in its class. In this car, Bentley combines the ultimate interior with the ultimate in performance. After all, it would never stoop to distribute anything less than the superb, made- for-royalty coaches it routinely turns out in coupe and sedan form. The massive, surprisingly handsome new Bentayga only ups the ante.
When it finally comes out in 2016, the Model X will have 250 miles of range and massive horsepower. Company founder Elon Musk has said it’ll hit 60 mph in 3.8 seconds (even faster with Ludicrous mode) and will have a top speed of 155 mph. If true, that sprint time will beat the plush Bentayga. And if it is as good as the exceptional Model S sedan (and if you’ve got a place to charge it), this will be the SUV to buy when you want something big and earth-friendly. There’s currently nothing on the market like it. Consider it money well spent.
Best exotic: Ferrari 488 GTB
This 660-horsepower V8 coupe will hit 60 mph in 3 seconds. Wonderful. More importantly, as the first Ferrari in years to use turbocharged power rather than natural aspiration, it gets 15 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway, progress for this elite exotic and better than most of its compatriots. It’s Ferrari’s statement that you can combine massive power with Italian good looks and raw performance without creating a total gas-guzzler. For a new Ferrari that is furiously drivable yet enjoyable on a daily basis, this is the one.
Bentley GT Speed
The GT Speed is the fastest four-seat convertible on the market today, even though it weighs a whopping 6,300 pounds. (It hits 60 mph in 4 seconds.) Pretty inside and out, it has red carbon ceramic brake calipers on 21-inch alloy wheels, a diamond lattice grill, and polished LED headlights that accent the trim bodyline and big British muscular haunches. You’ll be hard-pressed to find something in this price range that can match both the caliber of craftsmanship, the roguish good looks, and the potency of its 626-horsepower V12 engine.
Best alt-fuel star:
The P90D hits 1.1 Gs at max acceleration. It goes zero to 60 mph in a blistering 2.8 seconds (this, sirs, will keep it apace with a Lamborghini Huracan and a McLaren 650S). The car runs for 300 miles on electricity and requires almost zero maintenance. Plus, it’s as spacious and well-made on the inside as a Mercedes town car, with that massive touch-screen control panel at front that is surprisingly easy and fun to use. Even better, it’s made in California and uses no fossil fuel.
Not what it seems: Rolls-Royce Wraith
The term “sporty” means different things to different people. At Rolls, it means a V12, 624-horsepower engine in a 5,500-pound, 17-foot-long car. That seems like much, but believe it: The Wraith hits 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, which beats a Porsche 911. And, inside, it has ambient lighting; jet-liner reading lights and Deco-inspired roof lights; wood-paneled reverse-opening doors; and a headliner made (they say) of stars. This is neither your typical sports car nor your typical Rolls. .
Best old collectible:
Recent auction numbers indicate an uptick in Porsche 911 and 356 values that isn’t about to change. Vintage German-made car values climbed from $150,000 in 2007 to $625,000 today; the 1974-77 Porsche 911 increased the most in average sale price of any classic car this year, with a jump of 154 percent over 2014 values. That beats anything from Aston Martin, Ferrari, or Lamborghini. (And even models as late as early 2000 Carrera GTs have been hitting near the million-dollar mark.) Yes the popularity has been growing for some time, but it’s not too late to get in on it. And I suggest you do.
Best new collectible: Superformance Cobra
The glamorous little roadster is built by Superformance and comes with official licensing from Shelby allowing it emulate the 1960s Cobra 289 racers to the smallest detail. The California-based company has made roughly 4,000 of the front-engine, rear-wheel-drive car each customized to its owner. They come with a 375-horsepower Ford V8 engine, classic Tojeiro-styled round-tube chassis, and a light body perfect for after-hours jaunts and weekend thrills. This is the perfect vehicle to drive if you love the look of vintage cars but don’t want all of the worry and strain associated with breakdown-prone mechanics.
Best motorcycle: Tie, Ducati Scrambler and Ural
You could compare this new Ducati Scrambler to the older Triumph Scrambler ($9,099) and the Honda CB1100 ($10,399) or to the Royal Enfield Continental GT ($5,999). But this one is more stylish and powerful than those, while being the lightest (375 pounds) and least expensive ($8,495) Ducati on the market. With an oil-cooled 803cc engine taken directly from the Monster 796, it’s easy enough to ride for novices, but interesting enough around turns and over terrain for the more-advanced rider. Consider it the best all-around value for the segment.
The Ural with sidecar is a perfect all-around motorcycle: They go in the snow, go over sand and mud, and can carry your best friend, be they human or canine. Ural’s CT model has a 749cc 41 horsepower engine with a 4-speed clutch transmission. It has a slow top speed (70 mph) but the amount of fun it provides more than makes up for the fact that you’re not popping wheelies at 100 mph.