We had the pleasure of driving a lot of great cars this past year. With the year coming to an end and the exciting promise of a new year on the horizon, we thought it appropriate to look back on 2018 and pick the five best cars we drove.
Alfa Romeo is a confusing brand for me. On one hand, it’s so deliciously desirable, with cars that look better than almost anything else on the road and drive better than most as well. However, they’re all riddled with quality, ergonomic and technology issues. Still, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio was one of the most intriguing and exciting cars we drove all year. It’s brutally fast, so much sharper than an SUV has the right to be and it looks fantastic. If you’re looking for a performance SUV, the Hot Stelvio’s charms are almost impossible to deny.
4. Lexus LC500
This one is on the list mostly because it surprised me. I knew it was going to look great, I knew it was going to have superb build quality and I knew it had a great engine. What I didn’t know was just how much fun it was going to be and how enjoyable it would be to drive. The engine is a masterpiece, with a fantastic noise and beautifully linear powerband. But, unusual for a Lexus, it also has great steering, front-end grip and handling. It has its issues, like odd interior quirks and an annoying gearbox, but it’s so surprisingly good that it gives me hope for the Lexus brand moving forward.
3. Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
While my official test drive of the Giulia Quadrifoglio was in 2017, I had the chance to sampling it again in Detroit during an event with Alfa Romeo/Maserati. It was also my first taste of the Giulia on track and it reminded me why I love it so much. It’s a sensational machine and the finest driving sedan on the road. Period. Its steering is near-perfect, its chassis balance is spot-on and it’s just overall one of the most playful cars I’ve ever driven. It’s also stupid fast and fantastic looking.
The Audi S5 Coupe is not the most expensive, most high-performance or most luxurious machine in the Audi lineup. Hell, it’s not even the best car in the A5 lineup (that would be the RS5, which we didn’t test). But it’s so good at so many things and it’s relatively affordable for most people that it really struck me as one of the best sports car buys on the market. We tested it back-to-back with the BMW 440i and it wasn’t even close, the Audi S5 was better. It’s so so well-rounded; fast, fun, good looking, comfortable, all-weather-capable, practical and high-tech; that it’s impossible to not love.
1. BMW M5
I know, I know, we’re an Audi-based site and a BMW is at the top of our list for 2018. But there are no two-ways about it — the new F90-generation BMW M5 is the best car we drove last year. With its 4.4 liter twin-turbo V8, 600 hp and, for the first time ever in an M5, all-wheel drive, it’s ballistically fast. It can rocket from 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds while also being incredibly comfortable, luxurious and practical. It also has great steering, a perfect ride quality balance of comfort and composure and the ability to switch to rear-wheel drive and turn its tires to smoke. The new BMW M5 sets the bar, originally set by the Audi RS6, so much higher than ever before. Audi has a real monster to contend with the next few years.