SEE | 5 outstanding cars of 2019

Image: Sean Parker
Image: Sean Parker

2019 has come and gone and many new cars were launched in South Africa over the past 12 months. Sean Parker picks five standout models that left an indelible impression on him. 

The list includes a smorgasbord of cars, including a sports car, mild hatchback, performance bakkie, high-performance wagon and an electric SUV. The list is no particular order. 

1. Toyota Supra - Powered by a peach of a BMW straight six-cylinder 3.0-litre engine, the Supra looks miles better than the Z4 it shares many components with.

To drive, the voluptuous coupe is sharp and responsive but lacks aural excitement. However, those driving dynamics and bullish engine dominate the experience and give it a deserved place in my top five. 

2. Suzuki Swift - The grin-inducing little Japanese hatch makes driving at low speeds fun, no easy task. Now powered by a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine with 103kW and 230Nm, that's as lively as Helen Zille's Twitter account, the Swift is no slouch.

Easily one of the lightest (970kg) cars I've driven in ages, never before has cheap (R315 900) and cheerful felt this good. Tremendous effort by Suzuki and well-executed. 

3. Ford Ranger Raptor - Another vehicle that had motoring enthusiasts tapping their qwerty keyboards. The Ranger Raptor is all about what's underneath the body (local owners have festooned their normal Rangers with Raptor kits for ages). 

It's extraordinary what this bakkie is capable of, and it's mainly down to the fitment of a bespoke suspension and FOX shocks (exclusive to Raptor). It has a 150mm wider track and a higher ground clearance of 283mm. And it's capable of going ANYWHERE. 

4. Audi RS 4 - Two cylinders less, but now turbocharged, the RS 4 is the only performance wagon on sale in South Africa, and thank goodness for that.

No car on sale blends genuine red-eye performance with everyday practicality like the RS from Ingolstadt.

331kW and 600Nm from a twin-turbo V6 engine translate into a 0-100km/h sprint time of 4.3 seconds and the new car rides as good as it looks. The RS4 is ludicrously easy to drive quickly. And the best part? It's not a performance SUV. 

5. Jaguar I-Pace - Early adopters and very rich people were among the first owners of Jaguar's i-Pace, an all-electric SUV cum large hatchback. 

It's possible to drive for between 330km-350km on a single charge and the 2.2-ton vehicle is devastatingly quick courtesy of its instant 700Nm of torque. 

While its steep price will keep the I-Pace on the fringes, for now, the decision to sell an EV that can genuinely be used to commute is something that must be admired. 

*Special mention Alpine A110 - Not a car the world needs, but a car the world wants. A beautifully balanced chassis, sufficient urge from a 1.8-litre turbocharged motor and low weight mean it has all the ingredients for a great driver's car. 

The A110 can put the driver right in the centre of the experience. I was fortunate to drive the French car at the Ascari race track in Spain and my goodness was I smitten. 

What a car, just a pity Renault won't sell it in South Africa. 

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