• Jock McCleary's top five of 2017

Five Memorable Drives of 2017

Jock McCleary's top five of 2017: I was lucky enough to put the Audi RS through its paces in some fantastic roads in southern France and into Andorra.

Jock McCleary By: Jock McCleary January 3, 2018
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Having to choose five specific cars to review from a full year of driving so many different vehicles is no easy task.

My selection doesn’t mean that they are the best cars I‘ve driven, but there is something that has attached it to my memory that makes me think about it at the end of the year.

Most of the cars I have chosen are because of something that has surprised, enlightened or pleased me.

Here are the five most memorable drives for 2017.


Jock McCleary's top five of 2017

I have always been a bit wary of fully electric vehicles; I had driven other EV’s in the past and found it hard to properly adjust my driving technique to benefit from the advantages of electric propulsion.

The Chevrolet engineers assured me that the new Bolt didn’t require any adjustment of driving technique because the Bolt EV had a trick up its sleeve when it came to regenerating power. By putting the shifter into low-mode – and by use of a paddle situated on the steering wheel – I entered what Chevrolet call “one-pedal driving” in effect it eliminates the use of the brake pedal. You accelerate as normal but as soon as you ease up on the accelerator, the car will decelerate, without the use of the brakes, reclaiming the energy being generated to recharge the battery. During the drive portion I pushed the car and drove it, as advised, like a gasoline engine car and I must admit that I only found myself looking at the remaining range a couple of times. I drove about 200km in open country as well as in heavy downtown traffic and by the end of the drive I had just used half of the charge.

This really changed my opinion of electric cars and I now see them as a viable option to the gasoline powered cars for a daily commuter.


Jock McCleary's top five of 2017

To be honest I first drove the RS in late 2016 but in February I was given the unusual opportunity to put it through its paces on an ice and snow track located a few hours north of Montreal. The Focus RS is very much a performance hatch that pushes out 350hp and 350 lb./ft. of torque from its specifically tuned 2.3–litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. A small car putting down so much power to the wheels usually means that it is put away for the winter, but the sophisticated all-wheel drive system manages to easily control it. This system doesn’t rely on front and rear differentials, but on its new torque vectoring system. Two clutches at the rear axle allow up to 70 percent of the power to be sent to one wheel or it can act like a limited slip differential. Beyond this ability, it dabs the brake on the inside rear wheel to reduce understeer and keeps the vehicle on track. It was really eye opening driving such a powerful car on sheer ice and still managing to keep control.


Jock McCleary's top five of 2017

The Jeep Wrangler is one of the most iconic cars on the road today. It has been on our roads for nearly 80 years and in all that time it has only gone through eight major design changes in its lifetime. The Wrangler has always been known as being rough and ready for the great outdoors, but not really made as a daily commuter. The 2018 Jeep Wrangler has changed all of that. It now has a choice of a new 2.0L super smooth turbocharged engine that can regenerate power from braking and reuse it when pulling away.

There have been a number of updates to both the hard and soft tops making it much easier and quicker to go topless especially now when the windshield can collapse by taking just four bolts out instead of the old 28. The interior has been nicely updated and is far more appealing. The road handling has been improved immensely without sacrificing any of its legendary off-road ability.


Jock McCleary's top five of 2017

The new fifth generation of the iconic “Disco” had been totally redesigned from the ground up. Gone was the box-like body shape and a sophisticated more aerodynamic Discovery had emerged. The new Discovery is built on same aluminum monocoque framework as the Range Rover, which helps it drop over 370kg from its LR4 predecessor.

The new disco comes with two engine choices – the 3.0-litre, V6 supercharged gasoline engine that pushes out 340hp and 332lb./ft. of torque while the 3.0-litre, V6 turbocharged Diesel attains 255hp and an admirable 443 lb./ft. of torque. Both are matched up to a super smooth eight speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. The interior is where the biggest changes have taken place the attention to detail is immediately noticeable especially with the high-quality materials and a dash design that is uncluttered and user friendly. I was pleasantly surprised with fit and finish; the quality is making it hard to distinguish from its posh upper class Range Rover family. Just because the Disco has become that much more sophisticated doesn’t mean that it has lost any of its off-road prowess as it proved in some really proving off road sections in the Utah dessert.

FIRST – AUDI RS 5 2018:

Jock McCleary's top five of 2017

When I heard that Audi were dumping the big V8 in in favour of a compact V6 in the RS 5, I was perplexed and to be honest a little worried. Any apprehensions I had were quickly put to rest the second I pressed the start button. While the brand-new 2.9-litre bi-turbo V6 is smaller than the 4.2 V-8, the Audi engineers have managed to up the horsepower to 450 and dramatically raise the torque from the lacklustre 317 lb./ft. to a impressive 442lb./ft. Just because the engine size has gone down doesn’t mean that it has lost any of its throaty, guttural growl, I found that the exhaust note matched if not exceeded the previous generations trademark sound.

I was lucky enough to put the RS through its paces in some fantastic roads in southern France and into Andorra. Switching the car into Dynamic mode made the car come alive, it hunkered down the suspension stiffens, the steering tightens up and the exhaust note becomes angry. Pushing it into corners with drops off ‘s of over a hundred feet was daunting at first but it felt like I was going to rip the road off the side of the mountain before the RS was going to loose traction. This was one of the best driving routes I have done in a long time and I was so lucky to have done it in the new RS 5.

Also Read: RS 5 Proves a Smaller Engine Offers More Performance

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