Time to assess another year. A year like no other, we are all well aware, but still some great cars made their way to the Resident Towers.
There are many doubts surrounding the Covid-19 virus, but if one thing is certain is that this was the weirdest year of our lives. It was also the hardest year ever to test new cars for obvious reasons.
That is why these awards are easier than usual. Fewer cars, fewer decisions. But it also means I am very limited in my choices and the outcome would probably be different had I driven a wider variety of models.
However, no point in crying about it. Better to focus on some great cars that still made the cut and which I was privileged enough to drive. Surprisingly, two of them come from the same manufacturer, but in such a strange year, I guess that is forgivable.
Third place, getting a very nice Bronze Medal is the new Renault Clio, a car that also qualifies as the biggest surprise of the year. On the outside, it seems almost exactly like its predecessor, with a few minor touches that make it look bang up to date and add some premiumness. But the outside is just half the story.
To me it also looks bigger and more harmonious than before, but the biggest differences have nothing to do with looks or design. For one, the car drives much better than before, with a balance between comfort and dynamic ability that no Renault I have driven before has had, at any price point.
I guess if I owned one, the novelty would eventually wear off but, for the five days I drove it, I never stopped being in awe of the Clio’s way of dealing with any type of road.
The second point that must be emphasised is the interior. The gap from the previous generation is enormous. The quality of the materials and fit and finish are really very good for a Renault priced at €15,000. A great buy all around, the new Clio is a worthy bronze medallist in 2020.
And so comes the first Porsche. The new 718 Boxster GTS 4.0. What a truly amazing driver’s car. A car clearly made by people who know what someone who loves driving craves for in a vehicle.
Porsche ditched the unloved 2.5 litres, four-cylinder turbo engines for the latest GTS versions of the Boxster and the Cayman and replaced it with the naturally aspirated unit from the new Cayman GT4 and Boxster Spyder.
With four litres, 400 horsepower and the best manual gearbox you can buy these days, the 718 Boxster GTS is a dream come true for petrolheads, believe me. Every kilometre is a joy and every journey too short.
Be careful with this car or your wife, or husband of course, will start wondering why you are coming home so late, your boss will question your productivity and your friends will think you don’t like them anymore.
You see, it’s very hard to stop driving this car. Once you start, you just want to keep going. The only reason why it’s not the overall winner is because, well, Porsche made an even better car than the 718 Boxster GTS this year.
That car, our Gold Medal winner, is the latest 911 Turbo S and all 650 horsepower of it. I wrote about it two months ago, so no point in repeating everything again, but the fastest version of the 992 generation 911 is, basically, the fastest everyday car there has ever been. That is not an opinion, that is just fact.
The Turbo S is such an engineering feat, I was having trouble enjoying the car for what it is for the first few hours. I kept thinking, how did those guys do this? How much money was poured into this project to get to this point of absolute perfection?
I am not even a Porsche super fan, but this car is just phenomenal. It is one of the best cars ever made – never mind 2020. It feels unbreakable too, as if you can thrash it for year after year after year and just take it to the nearest Porsche Centre for an oil service and that’s it.
In our house, we are Ferrari people but even my kids were questioning my logic. They had never felt such speed, such acceleration and they really, really, enjoyed it. But the Turbo S was just as good taking them to school at 50km/h, getting groceries for dinner or cruising at a steady 120km/h on the highway while returning an average consumption of 10l/100km.
I think the 992 Turbo S is a landmark car, so all is not lost in 2020. Maybe second and third places might have been different if I had tested more cars this year, but I doubt first place would change. It costs €300,000 but, for those who can buy it, the 911 Turbo S is a bargain.
Enjoy your cars and remember to stay safe. Let’s hope for a better 2021. I will meet you there.
By Guilherme Marques