What makes a car enthusiast buy?
14 enthusiasts rate 8 luxury and performance cars on the market
Australian car awards are normally judged on set technical performance factors by motoring professionals, but rarely do luxury car owners and connoisseurs come together to judge the best cars on the market against the more emotive criteria that drives a car enthusiast to purchase in the first place.
Michael Stahl, editor-in-chief at Robb Report Australia and one of the country’s most experienced motoring journalists, brought together 14 luxury and performance car owners and enthusiasts to road test eight luxury and performance cars on the Australian market – in what will become an annual event. Each car was judged on its design, engineering, performance and quality against the driver’s expectations of the brand and model.
The judging panel comprised car lovers from all walks of life who have achieved success in a variety of business fields – from law to property, medicine and finance – all with one thing in common: a love of and appreciation for their automotive passions. Between them, the judges already drive a selection of Ferraris, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguars, Maseratis, Porches, Mustangs and Lamborghinis.
The judging panel comprised: Kanebridge Director Marwan Rahme, Winning Group CEO John Winning, leading cosmetic physician Peter Bakaric, lawyers Robert Bounasssif and Milad Raad, stockbroker Peter Burrows, ex-property journalist Anthony Catalano, AMG Director Brian Connell, property developers Simon Loulach and Graeme Webb, financial investor David Marshall, and civil construction manager Paul Moujalli.
Over two days the panel drove a cross section of the finest cars on the market: the Aston Martin DB11, Bentley Bentayga W12, Ferrari 488 GTB, Lamborghini Huracan LP 580-2, McClaren 570S, Mercedes-AMG S63 Cabriolet, Porsche 911 Turbo and the Rolls Royce Dawn. The rural road course comprised a variety of topography, road surfaces, curves and speed zones, and a private road.
The best of the eight
As inspired and unique as a work of art, the Rolls-Royce Dawn open-topped convertible came out on top for its combination of elegance, road power and statement-making. This luxury car is the embodiment of traditional coachbuilding and unbridled engineering application, with five out of 14 judges pointing out the smooth driving feel. An additional three judges commented on the quiet engine, considering its power. “It’s almost like you’re driving on air. Effortless, quiet,” was one comment. In the judging process, half of the drivers noted that the Dawn encapsulates the “classic Rolls style”.
With three of the judging panel owning a Ferrari 458, and with other super-coupes in the mix, it was a surprise that the Ferrari 488GTB was rated second favourite. The 488 would have to supersede the 458 – acclaimed as one of the most beautiful and emotive Ferrari products in 50 years – and beat the Lamborghini and McLaren, and it easily did. Its turbo power and glorious V8 Ferrari engine were the stand-out factors for most of the panel. While the panel’s three 458 drivers agreed that forced induction rendered the sound inferior to the 458, they agreed on the superb acceleration. Three within the panel noted their love for the brand and six made a point about the sporty interior. One judge described the masterpiece as having “stunning acceleration and cracking performance.”
Finally, the McLaren 570S came in third, with almost half of the panel noting its “laser responsive steering – much more so than the 488s”. One judge stated it had “the best steering of all the cars here.” Judges also praised its user-friendly controls, its exemplary cockpit vision, and turbine-like power from the 3.8-litre, twin-turbo V8 that was so impressive many of the judges were initially convinced the 570S was all-wheel drive.
The judging panel, entry panel and judging process were designed for inaugural Car of the Year (CofY) feature by Robb ReportAustralia, the local edition of the world’s most authoritative magazine title in the luxury market. Robb Report brings its readers the best of the best in the market. The CotY will be featured in detail in the April issue, just released.
Michael Stahl, Robb Report Editor-in-Chief, says: “The Robb Report Australia Car of the Year is different to any other car award. Modelled on the award introduced by our US parent title 24 years ago, our Car of the Year naturally focuses on a cross-section of only the finest cars in the upper reaches of the Australian market and measures them based on the desirable qualities that are driving motoring enthusiasts to make emotive purchases.”