And just like that 2017 is over. As far as sick cars go, it was a year to remember!
There are two facts that we could have predicted before 2017 began. One, Zuma wouldn't fall, and two Donald Trump was going to do something stupid. Which he did, many times. Certainly, we could never have guessed that Cassper was going to fill that stadium, which he inevitably did - nice! - and we could have never have guessed that the once greatest team in world rugby, the Springboks, would sink even further into the hopelessness of mediocrity.
The Ares Project Panther. One of the highlights of 2017.
Indeed, on the motoring front, we could never have guessed this crank-turning fact: 2017 might go down as the most memorable motoring year in recent years and that there is a beautiful and sad truth to behold, depending on your view of electric cars and their role in our motoring soul. Yes, it was in 2017 that we learnt two exceptional things about the future of four wheels that hit us like a bus:
Firstly, electric super cars now truly do make petrol ones seem ordinary and secondly, now even “normal” electric cars can sell as many as four times more than the most popular C-segment sedan in the world. Yes, the Tesla Model 3, at launch in the US, outsold the BMW 3-series four times over, which no doubt speaks electric-loud volumes about where our world is headed. Indeed, it's sad and beautiful that petrol will now inevitably make way for electricity, and 2017 was the year to confirm it.
Cray-cray, we know.
It was somewhat cemented on a political level too when France announced that by 2040 all purely petrol and diesel powertrains will be banned. Indeed, China has stepped up its mining investment in lithium, the key component of car batteries, as it too braces for a new economy of electric transportation. Tesla's success in liberal America speaks for itself and for the most part, our electric fate now seems sealed, except for in the White House where lives a man who does not believe in climate change, but in the fact that a wall between nations can solve the emigration crisis.
All-new Bentley Continental, in case you missed it.
Yes, every major car brand has now committed to the electric 20s in some way or another and it is now very likely that you will own some sort of electric propulsion sooner than later, even here on the tip of Africa. Electric cars, whether you believe in them or not, whether you like them or not, or whether you think there is better tech out there or not, are quick becoming the leading solution to a heating planet - and, as a proud South African motoring publication, we have to tip our hats to the South African legend, Elon Musk, who is the largest component in the transition.
Certainly, this year must not be underestimated. As electric years go, 2017 wasn't as much about climate change as it was about how pretty and how fast electricity could be. Environment aside, it was the aesthetics and performance of electricity that overwhelmed us most in 2017, which makes the year most significant. We loved electric cars because they were sick, not because they saved the world - and it precisely that shift in thinking that is most extraordinary.
China's NextEV NIO EP9
It started out when China's NextEV NIO EP9 broke petrol-loving hearts around the Nurburgring and culminated when Muskie-boy unveiled the all-new Tesla Roadster, which we are sure is a super car destined for Mars because nothing on this planet comes close. It proved that electricity is not only cleaner, but can drive faster too, and in the case of many still to be released, further than their petrol and diesel competitors.
The Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake. Beautiful. Thank you Aston for a great year.
More significantly perhaps though was the design of these cars, which shows us that electric cars are no longer confined to the futuristic doldrums of some sci-fi, and that they too will also be ones worth buying one day based purely on looks alone. Honda, VW and MINI were exceptionally strong in this regard – and for the most part electric looked good. With the exception of Smart, most electric cars looked gimmick free and as we surmised, as long as they're released beautiful, we will love them regardless. Why? Because we love beautiful cars Bro. That's why.
The VW I.D. Buzz - an electric and autonomous take on the vintage surf bus. Expect it in the 20s.
Still, all that written and read though, electric is not our present (albeit a little closer) and petrol and diesel cars still rule the roost. Indeed, there were many rumbling, bumbling and beautiful carbon-spewing machines unveiled this year that we absolutely loved. We especially salivated over the ARES Project Panther for its vintage salute and we loved the new Aston Martin Vantage, it's Zagato Shooting Brake brother and the quite stunning and all-new BMW Z4.
The new Z4. Nice bro.
Bentley's new Continental also arrived with a welcoming splash, leaner than the old one, and Mazda's new design philosophy, KODO, gave birth to some stunning Asian concepts that are worth a second, third and fourth look. Hyundai, like Sunday, gave us a potent hot hatch, the i30N, which we thought your little bro might dig, and Porsche, as Porsche does, gave us a series of new Carrera 911s that all look the same. That is, they all look very good and unchanged.
The 130N. Aweeh.
Indeed, there are many designs to contemplate in 2017, some outrageous, some ugly, some cool, some beautiful, so we thought it best to round them up with a Top 5 list to help. So here it is, GT's top 5 sickest cars of 2017 for your South African, motoring convenience. Indeed, if you knew nothing about 2017's car madness, these are the 5 most significant cars that should update you. We love them - and suspect you will too!
5. Mercedes-Benz X Class
The idea of it seemed silly, but the Mercedes bakkie looked real good when it arrived and will be a significant addition to bakkie-loving South Africa. We dig it!
4. BMW 8-series (concept)
BMW released many cars in 2017, but the upcoming 8-series is a class above what the competitors are offering. It looks a touring masterclass and we expect it to remain unchanged when it arrives. Take a bow BMW.
3. Tesla Roadster
The redefintion of motoring in the flesh. The Tesla Roadster arrived with some outrageous stats that make Ferraris looks like Fiats. It accelerates faster than an F1 car and that's all you'll ever need to know. Looks real mean too.
2. Mercedes-Benz Project One
Perhaps the most anticipated car of the year was a Mercedes masterclass, which dominated headlines the world over. When it was finally unveiled at Frankfurt, we were blown away. It's gorgeous. And hybrid. And ridiculously fast. Read more about it here.
1. The Honda EV brothers (concepts)
The biggest surprise of the year were two electric brothers by Honda that overwhelmed the motoring world with their retro and untouchable looks. First came the Honda Urban EV Concept, styled with Lenasia in mind, and then the Sports EV - a piece of design perfection that hits the nail on every design head. It's cars like these that will redefine electric motoring from a styling perspective and truthfully, we cannot wait to drive them. They look downright fantastic.
The Urban EV Concept.
The Sports EV concept.