While the saying for the month of December may be ‘the most wonderful time of the year’, motoring enthusiasts of the northern hemisphere might tell you otherwise. Frigid temperatures and the mechanical bits of classic cars rarely make worthwhile combinations, while rear-wheel drive sports cars can be rendered useless and tricky in cold weather.
If that’s not enough, teeth-chattering temperatures are also not ideal conditions to be standing outside admiring cars in. Yes, we all love automobiles, but show of hands: how many of you are willing to suffer from hypothermia because of them? Thought so…
Thus the advent of the winter season finds us huddled by fireplaces and space heaters, seeking warmth as our eyes scan the laminated pages of our favorite car magazines, and reminiscing on the past year in motoring.
Weirdly, it’s 21°C in my city at the time of writing (no I don’t live in California or any part of the Western portion of the States), but still I reminisce on the best five cars that have stepped onto the scene in 2013.
5. Porsche 911 GT3 (991)
Before anyone whose job title wasn’t ‘Porsche test driver’ turned the wheel of the latest GT3 in anger, there were about as many criticisms surrounding the car as there were journalists when it was officially unveiled in Geneva earlier in March.
Once road testers got their (lucky) hands on the wheel, though, they were smitten. The new GT3 was praised for its rapid pace, excellent control and feedback and its improved handling (as if there was all that much to improve upon with the 997 GT3). Any further doubt can be answered by the numerous top honours and nominations the 991 GT3 won in car of the year comparison tests. Prove ‘em wrong indeed.
4. Pagani Zonda Revolucion
If the Pagani Zonda Revolucion proved anything to us, it’s that the Pagani Zonda Revolucion probably won’t be the last Zonda that we see. It would be marvelous if this was to be the case too, as I’m relatively confident you will agree that the Zonda emits the most pleasing sequence of pressure waves in motoring’s storied history.
The “last Zonda,” dubbed the Revolucion, was revealed to the public back in June, and boy, was it a car to marvel at. Weighing in at 1070kg and powered by a 6.0-litre V12 AMG Mercedes engine evolved from the Zonda R that makes 800 bhp and 538 lb-ft, the car was expected to beat the Zonda R’s 233mph top speed and its 3 second 0-60mph time.
Certainly for this car ‘fast’ is not the appropriate way to describe the pace of the Zonda Revolucion. ‘Stupidly fast’ seems more like it.
3. Porsche 918 Spyder
If you’ve paid any attention to motoring news this past year, then you likely have an idea of what the next three cars on this list will be. It can be said that Porsche has been the most generous when it comes to their hybrid hypercar as neither McLaren nor Ferrari have allowed any motoring journalists to try the P1 or the LaFerrari.
The 918 Spyder’s 875bhp and 940lb-ft of torque make it the least powerful of the hybrid bunch, but be sure to use the word ‘least’ sparingly when speaking of the successor to the Carrera GT. Many road testers who’ve driven the 918, a car that also went around the Nurburgring in 6 minutes and 57 seconds, have been blown away by its performance.
However, the one common critique that faces the 918 Spyder is the weight of the batteries. Some road testers have even gone so far as to say that the extra weight of the batteries is unnecessary, implying that the hybrid battery system is simply ’dead-weight’. Whether this is also the case with the P1 and LaFerrari remains to be seen. Only time will tell and all that.
2. McLaren P1
While McLaren’s method of marketing the P1 would appear to be questionable, you can’t question the fact that the P1 is an extraordinary car. Tight-lipped the bigs in Woking may remain, but the fact of the matter is that we all know the P1 could quite possibly be one of those cars we talk about decades on from now as a car that changed the game. Something, as I’m sure you will recall, that McLaren has prior experience in doing…
The 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8, the same used in the McLaren MP4-12C, makes 727bhp and 531lb-ft of torque without the added punch provided by the hybrid system. When that extra boost does kick in though, eyes widen as 903bhp and 664lb-ft of torque are read on the ‘Specifications’ page in the P1’s brochure.
There are still many questions surrounding the P1, however. Why won’t McLaren allow proper road testers to give it a whirl? Did the P1 beat the Porsche 918 Spyder’s Ring lap time? Will the LaFerrari ultimately be faster than the P1? We soon shall see, I suppose.
1. Ferrari LaFerrari
Over these next one or two paragraphs, I promise to do my best to avoid speaking of the name. Right, the LaFerrari (ignore the name, ignore the name, etc.), possibly the biggest game-changer of the game-changing niche that is the hybrid hypertrio.
The LaFerrari’s 6.3-litre V12 engine is a more developed version of the engine found at the front of the F12 Berlinetta, capable of making 950bhp and a whopping 715lb-ft of torque. This tremendous power, Ferrari says, can push the 1255kg hypercar to 60mph in under three seconds and a top speed of 217mph.
It could quite possibly be the battle of the automotive decade, this fight for supremacy that the LaFerrar, P1 and 918 Spyder are about to engage themselves in. It will certainly be the thing to watch throughout the year of 2014.
As for the rest of the motoring space, the next 12 months will surely provide us with as many news, rumours, and new cars as our cooler talk conversations could wish for. One could equate the motoring world to an afternoon weekday soap opera, and 2013 has surely proven this to be the truth.