This is, without a doubt, the most exciting time in automotive history since the invention of the automobile. We’re about to witness a paradigm shift from internal combustion engines to fully electric powertrains. This transition won’t be easy, and some brands won’t make it — but in the interim, many brands are pulling out all the stops, with everything from special-edition hardcore sports cars, to blug-in hybrids to bridge the gap. There is also a slew of credible new car manufacturers, a first in decades. This year’s automotive achievement awards is a selection of brands and cars that speak to the above. There are sports cars, hybrids, EVs, concepts, and more. Enjoy this pivotal moment.
The Best Concept Car — Acura Precision EV
The race is on for brands to secure the future of their identities and create efficient and functional EV silhouettes. With the Precision EV concept, Acura is putting its stake in the ground on sharp-edged, aerodynamic, and handsome styling. The Precision EV is much more reminiscent of the current MDX than the outgoing NSX, and suggests the long hood look is here to stay. Acura says the design is inspired by luxury Italian powerboats, and that’s something we can get on board with. Of course there’s performance, but given traffic these days, we’re more interested in the Spiritual Lounge Mode that can be activated during autonomous driving. Serenity now.
Standout feature: Drives itself.
Price: Not for sale
The Best Lightweight High-Performance Car — BMW M4 CSL
It’s BMW M’s 50th anniversary, and they’re treating themselves, and us, to a lightweight, hardcore, race-inspired CSL variant of the beloved M4. It’s no small feat to remove weight from modern cars, with their myriad safety systems, as well as expected luxury and convenience features, but BMW has managed to trim about 100 kg from the M4 in its transition to CSL. Carbon bucket seats, Alcantara trim, ceramic brakes, and a power boost are all part of the package — but it doesn’t really matter, because they are all sold out.
Standout feature: Ducktail carbon-fibre trunk lid.
The Best Sports Sedan — Mercedes-AMG C63 S E Performance
The combustion engine isn’t dead (yet), and this hybrid is nothing like the Toyota Prius that started the genre. With 671 hp between the turbocharged four-cylinder and the electric motor, the new C63 promises scintillating performance. Though you might not be too interested in the ability to put the car in “drift mode” that allows for lurid power-slides, we’re sure your teenager will be. While unmistakably Mercedes, the new C63 is more muscular-looking and the interior has taken major leaps in design, quality, and features. Though unconventional for AMG, this looks like a very compelling package, and you won’t likely miss the outgoing V8 as it shrinks into the distance in your rear-view mirror.
Standout feature: F1-derived turbocharger and rear-wheel steering.
The Best Driving Shoes — ECCO Men’s Retro Sneaker
If you love driving as much as we do, you may eventually aggravate your heel. Driving shoes are designed to allow for proper seating position, as well as driving technique, such as heel-and-toe shifting (look it up). We like these ECCO retro sneakers for their angled heel and wide sole. Normally driving shoes are ultra-narrow, but you’re not piloting a 1960s F1 car: modern pedal boxes are widely spaced, requiring a bit of extra sole for heel-and-toe flexing. ($220)
The Best Luxury SUV — Range Rover Sport
Let’s face it: Not everyone is ready for an EV. Maybe you want to hear the roar of the engine, or maybe an EV just doesn’t meet your use case. The new Range Rover Sport is an excellent way to bridge the gap to 2030, when, to be frank, you’re not going to have a choice anymore. Available with inline-six, plug-in hybrid, and twin-turbo V8 variants, there’s arguably something for everyone. Sharing its greasy bits with the full-size Range Rover, it’s inarguably toward the top of the SUV food chain, but the sleek and minimalist exterior doesn’t shout it. The interior looks like fine modern furniture and the material quality is off the charts. If you don’t need a third row and want the most sophisticated SUV money can buy, you can’t go wrong with this.
Standout feature: 113 km all-electric range for the plug-in hybrid version.
Price: $101,750 – $133,650
The Best EV SUV — Polestar 3
Polestar has rocketed on to the EV scene seemingly out of nowhere, but real car geeks know that the brand has long been synonymous with precision handling and race-inspired performance. Once Volvo’s all conquering racing division, Polestar is now a standalone EV brand — and the Polestar 3 is set to rocket them to the top. This commodious SUV packs a 111 kw battery, which is big, and that means between 400-500 km of range, not to mention plenty of juice for around 500 hp on tap. But that’s all somewhat to be expected. What we really love is the innovative materials in the interior that reduce plastic use and weight, as well as the sleek minimalist aesthetic that’s as much architectural as industrial design.
Standout feature: Serenity-now design, inside and out.
The Best Driving Watch — Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch
While you’ll find plenty of watches to drool over in the watch section of our website, there is one perhaps quintessential driving watch, the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional. The new Speedmaster 57 is certainly desirable (and celebrated in the special section), but the basic Speedmaster Professional with the Hesalite (plastic) crystal is the choice of many a car and watch connoisseur. Throw it on a cognac rally strap for a vintage vibe, bond with the machine when you wind it every few days, let the Hesalite take on a weathered and worn appearance, and you’ve got a driving partner to last you a lifetime. ($8,300)
The Best Sports Car — Nissan Z
With a history as storied as the Nissan Z (Paul Newman raced, and won, in one), you knew they were going to throw everything they could at the all-new Z that came out this year. With a 400 hp, twin-turbo V6 inspired by the famed GT-R, the new Z isn’t just an attractive toy, but a legitimate giant-killer. You’ll want the Performance trim, with its added aerodynamics, bigger brakes, louder exhaust, and forged alloy wheels. At the risk of an enthusiast insurgency, we’d even go with the 9-speed automatic gearbox, as it simply pairs much better with the turbocharged engine — and the paddle shifters are like those on the GT-R. Sure, the new Z is comfortable and feature-rich enough to be a swanky daily driver, but where the screaming engine and chassis really excel is blowing out the cobwebs on weekend and track day blasts.
Standout feature: Optional Rays forged wheels (IYKYK)
The Best Luxury Sedan — Genesis G90
Known as the D segment among the top German brands (think S-Class, 7 Series, Audi A8), the full-size luxury uber-sedan has shown impressive resiliency in a world of crossovers and SUVs. Maybe it’s because some people would just like a nice, comfy place for their commute or maybe they want a nice, comfy space to be chauffeured around in, but either way, there are plenty of options — not least of which has been the Genesis G90. Freshly restyled with a bold Crest grille and a “Two-Line Micro Lens Array” (a.k.a., lights), it definitely casts a silhouette at least as impressive as its German counterparts. There’s a 409 hp turbocharged and e-supercharged engine and four-wheel steering, but the real joy of driving the G90 comes from the serenity afforded by its air suspensions, laminated glass, and active noise-cancelling technology. Naturally it’s a relative bargain, despite its more than $100K price, but throw in the fact they’ll deliver one to you for a test drive and do the same if you buy one, and, well, it’s hard to put a price on never having to visit a car dealership.
Standout feature: Heated, cooled, and powered rear seats with suede-like pillows.
The Best e-Bike — Mercedes Silver Arrows e-Bike
An homage to the 1930s Silver Arrow Mercedes race cars, the n+ Silver Arrows e-Bike is worth having for its looks alone. With up to 120km of range and 32km/h of top speed you’ll be but a hand-polished blur to throngs of commuters stuck in their cars. ($6,250)
The Best Experience — Ultimate Driving Tours
From Australia to California, Spain to England, and everywhere in between, Ultimate Driving Tours are just that. You don’t even need to have a million-dollar exotic — you can use theirs. Self-guided, groups, linked to F1 races if you like or, if you prefer, the spa. Just don’t do the Swiss one — they’ll throw you in jail for minor speeding infractions. (Don’t ask)