First in the Santa queue is Lerato: Assembling a list of just a few of the vehicles that impressed me has been quite a feat.
I have finally driven the Porsche GT3 in 991.2 guise with its normally aspirated 4.0l flat six. It not only revs to the heavens, but also belches out an intoxicating howl that will have the hairs on your forearms standing on end. It easily rates as the best car I have driven.
I have driven several cars in my career and many have left quite an impression, but the 911 GT3 is all kinds of special and I desperately want one.
Then there is the Ferrari 812 Superfast with 588kW that would be my preferred fast GT should I need to drive long distances, quickly and in relative comfort. Like the GT3, it too revs to the heavens and must be seen to be truly appreciated.
I recently attended the launch of the forthcoming BMW M5 in Portugal, and while you will have read how impressive the vehicle is over its predecessor, I also got to drive previous versions of the M5. Alas, the one that began the M5 story, the E28, was out of commission.
That put paid to my aspirations of driving the original, which is affectionately known as the Matchbox due to its squared-off proportions.
However, I did manage to drive the third-generation M5, the E39, and all I can say is that it is one sweet ride. A 5.0l, normally aspirated V8 engine and six-speed manual gearbox is a match made in heaven. It delivers power and torque in a linear manner that, no matter where you are in the rev range, ensures you always have power at your disposal.
As far as runabouts are concerned, I was impressed by the dainty Suzuki Ignis, thanks to its funky design, willing engine, high specification and keen price — it was one of the most pleasant surprises in 2017.
And because one would need a bakkie at some point, mine would come in the form of the Volkswagen Amarok V6. As far as bakkies go, this is the one that is leading the pack.
So Santa, if you are listening, make my GT3 Guards Red please. Yes, much like your suit.
Michael: There’s a clear trend in new cars and I don’t like it. Every new car — well, almost every new car — has its body tied down so tautly they’re only an odd road surface shape from being uncomfortable.
This is a strange thing. The technology to make cars handle and ride well on any surface isn’t just available, but it’s been available for decades. Some of the hottest road cars in living memory — the stuff of teenage bedroom walls — weren’t just fast (for their time), but rode surprisingly well, too.
It was one of the great shocks I had when I first drove a Lamborghini Miura. It wasn’t that sideways-mounted V12 bellowing and sucking in air behind my ear (I expected that) but that it soaked up bumps better than the Audi Q5 I’d driven to Sant’Agata Bolognese. The same thing happened when I drove a BMW 3.0 CSL for the first time. It soaked up bumps beautifully and kept its body admirably flat at the same time. It was a proper car.
People want to think themselves sporty or emotional, so they’ll prepare cars for you that look the part and, in case you forget, ride the way the masses think a sports car should ride, rather than how a sports car should actually ride.
Wheels keep getting bigger, tyre sidewalls keep getting thinner and most suspension systems seem to hate being loaded up for any length of time and always feel like they’re racing to sit the body flat again.
It won’t get any better when we eventually move to autonomous cars, because they’ll be so desperately lacking in actual character that yet more of it will need to be contrived. It just doesn’t need to be like this.
So this Christmas, please park in my garage the old BMW 3.0 CSi I foolishly sold, so I can drive it over every road I usually brace for — and remember how 40 years of chassis development lost its way.
Mark: I thought I had my list to Santa all sorted, but at the last minute Alfa Romeo dropped off the new Stelvio SUV. It’s got loads of typical Alfa character and fantastic dynamic abilities on the black stuff. But what impressed me most was its ability and comfort on gravel and almost nonexistent tracks.
I had the new Range Rover Velar in the sport utility vehicle (SUV) slot and all-rounder option. I thought it was a no-brainer, but the Stelvio is very good. But it will not do the serious off-road stuff a Landy is born to do, so for that reason I’d like the Velar next to the tree.
Both SUVs have quite a sporty character, but this is a dream list so there has to be a sports car. The McLaren 720S is right up there, as is the Porsche 911R, which was one of my 2017 highlights — but it has to be the 911 GT3. It’s everything a driver really wants and needs.
I’m ending off with a bakkie, because we have to have something to put the presents in. That vehicle would be the latest Mitsubishi Triton (not to be confused with the platform-sharing Fiat Fullback, which is definitely not on my list).
The Triton is the first bakkie to provide a level of ride comfort and equipment that matches a family sedan. Achieving this together with load-lugging and off-road ability is an impressive feat, so it deserves its place under the tree.