From the Editor
You blink and another year has whizzed past. Peter, myself and our merry band of contributors had around 170 vehicles to drive and ride over the past 12 months, and as we have done for the past 22 years, we gathered the best of those together for a final test to crown the overall AMI Insurance NZ Autocar Car of the Year. It was a biggie this year, the Volvo taking it out convincingly. Read all about it starting on page 32, and also our Bike of the Year (page 94). As mentioned earlier, we also announced the winner of the inaugural AMI Insurance safety award (page 40).
It was a year where the SUV grew ever more popular. You only have to look at the line-up of finalists for evidence of that. We once wondered why we bothered to take SUVs along on Car of the Year (the original Outlander springs to mind) but now it’s hard to ignore them with their proliferation throughout the market. They are practical, do-it-all sorts of vehicles and they’ve improved dynamically over the years, the best of them capable of lapping the ’Ring in under eight minutes. Hard to believe but true.
Speaking of eight, it was those machines with an octet of cylinders that provided some the highlights for me this year. Those with a V8 proved to be the fastest, loudest and scariest experiences, and also induced the most grins per litres consumed. Particularly impressive given how much V8s love a drink. There was the Porsche 918 Spyder clocking 290km/h at Phillip Island, and the crazed KPM-enhanced 450kW ClubSport, as friendly as an axe murderer that one. The Hellcat was, well, a helluva ride, and the good old Aussie battlers from Holden, HSV and Ford put a lot of performance on the table for the dollars asked.
But in saying all that, two fourcylinder machines truly impressed this year. The MX-5 (the recently crowned Japanese Car of the Year) was a real gem, a car you can immerse yourself in driving all day down roads of interest. It’s involving, almost demanding yet never taxing. And it’s cheap in the scheme of things; the 1.5L version is the least expensive MX-5 ever.
The other four-potter to amaze was our Car of the Year, the XC90. It shows what can be achieved when you start afresh, everything rethought around the occupant’s needs. It’s the simplicity of it all, the craftsmanship and those safety features that make it a truly deserving winner this year.
And to the team, thanks to all our contributors; Rob Scott for providing the humour and many insightful features, Stu Owers for those quirky racing stories and Shaun Summerfield for his efforts trackside around New Zealand and globally. Not forgetting the long-serving ex-editor Owen, always good for a dose of controversy, and our comrades from the Fairfax Media motoring channel, Rob Maetzig and David Linklater. And also to the team of regulars, Tom for the great photos, Peter for the golf tips (and handy medical advice), Mike for making it all look so good, Trish for picking up the errorrs, and Gavin for keeping us viable.
Thanks also to you guys out there who keep coming back for a dose of NZ Autocar each month; we couldn’t do it without you. Safe travels everyone, see you back again in 2016.
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