When it comes to making All 4 Adventure/UNLEASHED Jase and Simon push themselves, their crew and their gear to the limit in order to achieve the best 4X4, fishing and adventure show on Australian television.
There has never been a year, in my experience, like 2017 for the diversity of vehicles on the Canadian market, which may explain why Canadians are buying them in record numbers.
Picking just five was not easy, so I went with my heart not logic.
Here are my top five of 2017, starting with:
FIFTH – JAGUAR F-TYPE SVR 2017:
Sublime is the only way to describe the F-Type SVR over the five days travelling at will to anything and anywhere during Monterey Car Week — that annual festival of the automobile centered around such motoring jewels as the Pebble Beach Concours and Monterey Historic Races.
The evocative shape penned by chief stylist Ian Callum shrouds the most powerful road-going Jaguars in history.
The marque’s new Special Vehicle Operations department, which functions as the brand’s in-house performance division, much like AMG at Mercedes-Benz and M-Power at BMW, developed its engine and drivetrain.
With SVO massaging, the supercharged 5.0-litre direct injection V8 was pumped up to 575 hp and 516 lb/ft of torque.
This goes through an eight-speed automatic transmission to a full-time all-wheel-drive system with bias to the rear.
Put all this together and you have a two-seater that goes from 0-100 km/h in 3.7 seconds with a top speed of 323 km/h (200 mph).
But the real payoff is this Jag is at home on super highways, back roads or just going to the supermarket and satisfies all the senses, all the time.
FOURTH – NISSAN LEAF 2018:
It’s well known that I’m not a fan of electric cars — for many reasons — such as lack of infrastructure, range-anxiety and the fussiness of the whole charging procedure.
But the 2018, second generation Nissan Leaf has me changing my mind.
It has a big, more power dense 40 kWh lithium-ion battery working with a 110 kW motor (107 hp, 236 lb/ft of torque) for not just a decent 0-60 mph time of 8.8 seconds, but also a range of 241 km.
All Leafs come standard with a Level 1 (110 volt)/Level 2 (240 volt) portable charger cable located in a bag in the trunk, that does away with the need to hot wire a 240-volt outlet.
Charging a completely flat battery with Level 1 takes 35 hours. Level 2 is 12 hours, and if you have access to a 300-volt fast charger, it takes 7.5 hours.
But the best part is the E-Pedal placed where the gas pedal goes and it acts like a rheostat. The more you press down, the faster it goes.
Lift your foot and regenerative braking brings it to a halt and when stopped, it stays put — even on an incline.
Oh there is also a brake pedal, but it doesn’t take long to drive based on anticipation so you know just when to lift and by how much to come a stop right where you want.
Not only is it actually fun to drive, but pricing is realistic.
THIRD – KIA STINGER 2018:
Ten years ago nobody would have expected a car like the Stinger from Kia.
But then Kia’s slogan is “The Power to Surprise,” which it did just a year ago with its world premiere at the North America International Auto Show in Detroit.
Long, low, with stretched hood and short tail, it is every inch the grand touring machine that Kia chief designer and now global president Peter Schreyer had wanted to build since the day he joined the company in 2006.
It has a twin turbo, direct injection 3.3-litre V6 engine producing 365 hp and 376 lb/ft of torque with an in-house designed eight-speed transmission with paddle shifters.
The rear-biased AWD marks the first non-Kia SUV/CUV to use this form of propulsion.
Schreyer has described the Stinger as “something special” and he couldn’t be more correct.
SECOND – MAZDA MX-5 RF 2017:
When it comes to bang for the buck, you just can’t beat the Mazda MX-5 and its latest iteration, the MX-5 RF (Retractable Fastback).
For almost three decades, this little roadster has owned a segment all by itself.
Its 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder engine produces 155 hp and 148 lb/ft of torque for just enough power to have fun, but not enough to get you into trouble.
With a standard six-speed manual transmission (six-speed automatic optional), this rear-drive roadster has near perfect front-to-rear weight balance.
Coupled with the low centre of gravity and an available limited-slip rear differential, you can toss it around all day and it keeps coming back for more.
Everyone needs to drive a MX-5 once in his/her life.
FIRST – Porsche 911 Carrera GTS 2018:
For pure power, panache, pace and performance, the Porsche 911 Carrera GTS is as good as it gets.
Available in five models (the Coupe and Cabriolet with rear- or all-wheel-drive and the Targa with standard AWD), there is nothing quite like it.
A new 3.0-litre flat-six direct injection twin turbo in the GTS produces 450 hp and 405 lb/ft of torque with standard six-speed manual or optional seven-speed “PDK” dual clutch automatic transmission.
The GTS sits 10 mm lower and the rear width is increased by 44 mm for the massive 20-inch alloy wheels.
All 911s feel like they’re hewn from a solid block of metal and the GTS is no exception.
It sits “four-square” with the driver purposely placed in the centre focused on that classic five-pot instrument panel with the tach the biggest, which when you think about it, is all you really need.
The thrust of the engine is surprising the first time, but then you begin to relish it along with the sharp bark from the exhaust between shifts.
I’ve recounted before how a Porsche racecar driver once said, “drive a Porsche and it spoils you for anything else.”
He was right.