Source – https://www.esquire.com/lifestyle/cars/a26016264/best-new-cars-2019
We drove dozens of cars to get ready for 2019—we know, a big chore. From our choice for car of the year, to our favorite ultra-luxury vehicle, to the crossovers we think are leading the pack, these are the ones we wanted to hop into again and again. Especially if money were no object.
Have you just stepped into a Tesla Model 3 or are you in some Scandinavia–meets–Silicon Valley mobile kiosk? Can I order an algorithm-perfected latte from this screen?
Welcome to the future of the everyman automobile, human. The Model 3 has only three buttons, and you get the sense from the glass-roofed cabin’s austerity that they are there because the government said they had to be. You unlock it with your phone or a key card. And nearly everything you need to do, short of braking, accelerating, and steering, is done via a 15-inch touch screen mounted in the middle of the dash, which is really one long, uninterrupted vent. You can precisely control its airflow by moving your fingers across the screen.
But how is it as, you know, a vehicle that moves? A hoot. The sporty, quiet car proves that if this is indeed the paradigm for the next chapter in automobiles, even ordinary ones will be extraordinary in the gasless future. As a torque-heavy electric car, it never feels slow. Need more adrenaline? The Performance version, which has an additional motor, can accelerate to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds. That’s zippier than a Porsche Boxster.
The problem with a Tesla? After a few hundred miles, I became so accustomed to the smooth acceleration and elegantly minimal interior that when I jumped into my Lyft after dropping off the 3, it felt like I had stepped into the past, where we might as well have been burning coal for heat. If you’ve always believed Tesla owners have a superiority complex, then you’ve probably never driven one.
People often ask me: Which car would you buy if money weren’t an object? Then I’ll ask for clarification: Is this the only car I could own? Would I take it on the track? Does it need a backseat? Convertible? How comfortable? And then, usually: Wait, where are you going?
It’s not my favorite question. Still, I understand why someone asks it. I think they’re waiting to hear about a car that they’ve never really encountered. They want to hear about something singular, special, out of this world. They want to hear about what it’s like to experience mind-bendingly fast acceleration with the roof down—alas, people want it to be a convertible—and how awesome it is to throttle through tunnels and have your eardrums practically explode.
Ask me this today and I will tell you it is the McLaren 570S Spider that I lust after. I like that the British company designs only two-seater sports cars with no intention of making crossovers. I like that, as Silicon Valley’s Russ Hanneman puts it, the car has the doors of a billionaire—they flip up. Really, this should be a prerequisite for all truly special cars. I like that it has stuck with analog, electro-hydraulic steering, as opposed to the numb, electronically assisted steering of nearly every other car out there. I like how that steering talks to you, tells you about little dips and imperfections in the road that you would have never known were there otherwise. It’s a car that makes you feel truly one with the asphalt, despite the fact that it looks like it was designed by aliens. I like that when people see the car, they say, “It looks like it was designed by aliens.” I like that it makes me feel like I’m driving technology pillaged from Area 51. I like that it’s not the mystique of McLaren I’m attracted to—as a relatively new company, it has virtually none—but rather the visceral, spirited thrills that the 570S Spider delivers. I like that it’s weird. Original. Out-there. Take me to your leader.
Performance Bargain of the Year
To drive the Civic Type R is to enter a kind of contract. Do you promise to throttle it? Good, because it only comes in stick. Are you okay with driving a Gundam robot? Great, because, well, just look at it. Don’t worry, nearly all of the overly aggressive-looking bits improve aerodynamics in some way—tell the olds that when they give it quizzical looks. The kids, who know this car from Forza racing video games, will be the clued-in ones, giving you thumbs up and Snapchatting as you drive by. It is not the most powerful machine on the road, but it is of that rare class of car, like the Subaru WRX Sti or the Volkswagen GTI, where you can actually feel every bit of horsepower; where you’re holding onto the revs near the redline and using every bit of the engine. That’s where the Civic Type R sings. You can tell that to the highway patrolman.
Luxury Car of the Year
The term GT has lost meaning over the years. It’s as if car companies read the first line of “grand tourer” on Wikipedia—“a performance and luxury automobile capable of high speed and long-distance driving”—and decided to bestow the letters on anything with four wheels and a leather seat.
I’m not a huge stickler for categorization—you’d go batty parsing the nichefied automotive world today. But I am into archetypes, and, good sir, nothing is more deserving of those two letters than the 2019 Bentley Continental GT. Grand? Let’s look at some of the available options: double-diamond quilted seats in rich saddle leather; an infotainment screen that rotates James Bond–style to reveal three dials with diamond knurling; a variety of stunning veneers, from redwood to stone. (Yes, stone.) It makes a BMW seem plebeian. Tourer? I put around eight hundred miles on the car in a week. Silk. Butter. Cloud. My notebook was filled with those three words over and over. The air suspension eats up rough roads. The W-12 accelerates effortlessly from any speed, with very little drama except for a polite, bassy thrum, but nothing too gaudy. It loves curves and corners, despite its size and weight.
Indeed, the name, in this case, is apt. Does your GT make you feel like the continent is shrinking beneath its twenty-two-inch wheels? Does it make you want to purchase fine wine and Renaissance paintings on your journey? No? Then maybe it’s not a GT.
Land Yacht of the Year
The new Rolls Royce Cullinan’s must-have feature is motorized chairs that elegantly pop out of the tailgate. It is an excellent perch in which to enjoy a cocktail made from the trunk’s drink module, which looks like a James Bondian picnic basket. You’ll need a chauffeur to imbibe, but most Rolls Royce owners already have one of those. So please: Enjoy, good sir.
There are some who do not like the idea of a prestigious brand like Rolls Royce coming out with an SUV—it’s like giving into what the nouveau riche want—but there is history of Rolls Royces being used for activities rougher than cocktail hour. They were driven as hunting vehicles in the 1920s, and T.E. Lawrence famously used armored silver ghosts in the Arabian desert during World War 1. But it takes more than a solid historical narrative to crowd into the ultra-luxury SUV market. The Cullinan is built on Rolls Royce’s own platform, as opposed to vehicles like the Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus, which share a lineage with the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne. And so this British Land Yacht feels bespoke and singular. It has all of the RR trademarks: coach doors with pop-out umbrellas, a quiet ride (thanks to tires filled with foam and around 220 pounds of sound-deadening material in the cabin), and a cloud-like ride. Amazingly, it even behaves this way when you take it off road, should you decide to. And you should. Or ask your driver to. Nothing like a martini with a mountaintop view.
Sport Sedan of the Year
It’s never been easier to be an iconoclastic shopper of luxury compact sports sedans. Should you feel the need to branch out from the triumvirate of Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, you must look at the sublime Alfa Romeo Giulia, which was an Esquire Car of the Year in 2017. And you’ll have one more to add to the comparison list this year: the Genesis G70. A Geni-what-now? Genesis is the new luxury brand from Hyundai, and the G70 is an amuse bouche of what’s to come from a roster stacked with talent like Luc Donckerwolke, former design director at Bentley, Lamborghini, and Audi, as well as Albert Biermann, who oversaw the development of BMW’s M cars. Their challenge is also a gift: a clean slate without any historical baggage. They have to create luxury and meaning out of nothing. Not an easy task, but the G70 makes for an impressive rookie. It is a remarkably quiet yet genuinely dynamic, sporty machine that just might be more fun to drive than its Germanic counterparts. Give it a shot.
SUV of the Year
To understand the cultish appeal of the G-Class, just listen, even before turning on the ignition. Shut the door. Don’t be a wimp—give it a bit of muscle. I mean, how satisfying is that thunk, right? And then the analog, cocking-a-shotgun ker-chunk of the door locks? You almost wish you had paparazzi or zombies chasing you to accentuate that rush of invincibility. No car makes you feel more prepared to take on the apocalypse (in style!) than this hand-built-in-Austria masterpiece, which has gone through its first major redesign since 1979. Mercedes-Benz went to great lengths to keep its unlikely icon—it was originally intended for military duty—just that, iconic.
To the untrained eye—or to those watching it hustle down La Cienega, its more natural environment these days—the new G-Class looks as Tonka-esque as ever. But in fact it shares only five innocuous parts with the previous generation, things like the spare-wheel cover, the door handles, and the sun visor. Whereas the old G-Class was charmingly quirky—the backseat had shockingly little legroom, and the car drove like, well, a tank—the current version maintains its off-road prowess while managing to be a much smoother, more luxurious SUV for the modern world. Mercedes-Benz has created a better G-Class, but you’ll want it for the same reason anyone wants a G-Class, perhaps now more than ever: It’s the high- riding antidote to the swoopification of nearly every other car on the road. Here’s to being square and staying that way.
Convertible of the Year
Just how far have fast cars come? In 2003, the 0–60 speed of the Ferrari Enzo, the Italian carmaker’s top-of-the-line speed demon, was 3.1 seconds. The 2018 Portofino reaches 60 in 3.4 seconds. In the span of 15 years, the entry-level Ferrari has become, at least in a straight line, nearly as quick as the marque’s one-time halo car. How useful is this fun fact in convincing your better half that the Portofino is something you deserve for your hard work? Unclear. But there’s one thing those numbers prove without a doubt: The Portofino is a real Ferrari, through and through.
The car’s predecessor, the “entry-level” California, also had to bear this weird burden. Front-engine V-8’s were for everyone else—a Mercedes SL, a Camaro, a Mustang. To be a Ferrari meant your engine had to be rear- or mid-mounted, and preferably a screaming V-12. But the California quickly became Ferrari’s best-selling car of all time, and the Portofino will likely earn that title, too. Despite being a hardtop convertible, it retains a svelte, graceful appearance, as if the Cali went on Whole 30. It has a wonderfully balanced duality. It is a brash, loud, torque monster in Sport mode, but twist the Manietto into Comfort mode, and it is content to purr gently for easy sunset drives. The Portofino is a Ferrari that checks so many boxes. Hard top. Convertible. Sports car. Four seater. Cruiser. Honey, we can get one right?
Electric Car of the Year
Electric is becoming normal at the Nordstrom parking lot. In the next few years, luxury brands from Audi to Mercedes Benz will all come out with their own electrified vehicles. Jaguar’s iPace sets a high bar as the first to the valet stand. Why? It’s kind of normal.
Whereas choosing a Tesla can feel like abandoning the tribe of gas-powered vehicles for the cult of EVs, the Jaguar isn’t out to turn you into an automotive radical. Its interior is as familiar as any other Jag’s, and its exterior is relatively familiar-looking. Of course, if you’ve ever spoken to a car designer, you know doing “normal” is not easy. Take a closer look and the iPace’s exoticness starts to come out—the front passengers sit far forward in the car, the wheels are stretched out to the corners, and there is a huge intake on the hood that channels air over the steeply raked windshield to improve aerodynamics. Then you drive it, and its uniqueness comes out—lots of torque, great cornering power, and genuine off-road capability. The car even has racing credentials: iPaces will be part of the first international race series held for production electric vehicles, the Jaguar I‑PACE eTROPHY. Being normal never felt more special.
Crossovers of the Year
Twenty-eighteen was the year crossovers officially outsold sedans. Even Ford, maker of the first American sedans, announced it was no longer going to sell them in the States. While it’s easy to hate on the crossover’s ubiquity, it’s hard not to understand the appeal of balancing space and fuel economy. Here are our favorites.
This crossover wants to be a sports car so, so badly. And you know what? It pretty much succeeds at that.
Angular design with artful scalloping makes for one of the most interesting-looking cars on the road. It’s just the right amount of weirdness.
Opt for the Signature interior, a $2K upgrade, and you’ll get the most comfortable back seat in the compact SUV segment, with reclining seats, quilted screening, and a huge panoramic sunroof.