BEN’S BEST CARS OF 2016
Busy man Ben looks back at some of the most memorable cars he’s driven over the past year
n the blink of an eye, another year has come to a close. 2016 has been a rather interesting, and busy, year for me personally, filled with ups and downs and plenty of memories, both good and bad.
2016 marks my first full year as a freelancer, and writing for this magazine has afforded me plenty of opportunities to sample a large variety of cars. I’ve driven dozens of new stuff over the past 12 months, some more memorable than others, but a select few stood out, for varying reasons, all of them good.
I guess the first one that comes to mind instantly has to be the one that came early in the year. When I drove the new Mazda MX-5 in January, it was pretty much the fulfilment of a dream. I’ve always wanted to experience what an MX-5 felt like, having read so much about it growing up. They do say never meet your heroes, for you could be disappointed. Well, the MX-5 proved very much the exception to that rule. It was as good as I’d expected it to be, maybe even better. The driving
Iexperience can only really be described as ‘pure’, and while the MX-5’S philosophy of Jinbai Ittai, or “horse and rider as one”, sounds like marketing malarky, you actually do feel like you’re an integral part of the car, melding along in sync as you take on whatever challenge that comes your way. The MX-5 was everything I’d thought it would be, and if circumstances permit I would most definitely slap money down for one, right now.
Similarly pure, but perhaps in a slightly different way, was another outstanding car that I’ve drove this year: the BMW M2 Coupe. Now, I’ve always been a big fan of the 2 Series Coupe, as it somehow had a ‘just right’ approach to its engineering, feeling just right for someone like me, someone who appreciates the pure joy of driving and nothing else.
The M2 adds more power and aggression to the recipe, and while it might seem like a bit of an overkill given that the standard 2 Series is already ‘perfect’ in my eyes, somehow it all seems to come together and just, works. Yes the M2 is powerful and can be a bit of a maniac, but it can also be easily tamed if you show some restraint. The delightful thing is, you don’t even have to be utilising the M2’s full power in order to have fun, such is its great balance and amazing well-engineered setup. A standard 2 Series will probably suffice for me, but certainly if you offered me an M2 I definitely would not reject.
I’m not usually a big fan of highpowered supercars though. Perhaps in Singapore’s context, with highly restrictive roads and regulations, there really doesn’t seem to be much point to them. But there’s always room for exceptions, and one such example is the Audi R8.
The new R8 is one of those cars that I guess you can say was truly highly anticipated. When I first saw the car at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, my almost immediate thought was, “Damn, what a car. I can’t wait to drive it”. Well, it took nearly two years since then for