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Forbes Best Cars of 2017

January 9, 2018 0 Comments
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Photo: BMW USA

2017 was a good year for the automotive industry, moving ever closer to clean, autonomous driving. The forward momentum has been building for a while, but 2017 felt like it gave the biggest push.

Much of the advancement is thanks to various tech firms coming in hot and fast to shake things up with autonomous tech and other new toys. The speed of their advancement exposed other slower, almost outdated auto set ups. Yet, some heritage brands showed that history, knowledge, and intellect still has its place in the auto market today.

The reality is this: the automotive revolution is leaving behind the conservative-minded and making room for the “explorers, the modernists, [and] the free thinkers.”

So what was impressive in 2017? According to Forbes, “only a handful of production cars” impressed last year. Most new electric vehicles on the market aren’t visually brave like the BMW i3 and i8, electing to merely add a clean engine to a more conservative set up.

The luxury and performance automotive world had the most exciting new production cars: Rolls-Royce with the latest Phantom model bringing “visceral joy in every possible way” with an on-board gallery concept that takes personalization to a new level, the “complex expressive project” that is McLaren’s 720S, and Lexus with the LS showing that the luxury car market can thrive on nonconformity.

The “real excitement,” though, comes from the concepts and ideas that feel plausible in the real world. As company attitudes shift and auto companies rebrand themselves as tech firms (BMW being one such company), they acknowledge the ever-narrowing divide between automotive and tech.

Even the more traditional luxury automakers had to do some soul-searching last year. Rolls-Royce and Bentley, for example, made some “brave propositions” for the future of luxury vehicles (Bentley’s concept of a virtual butler comes to mind).

BMW has been ahead of the game, establishing its electric sub-brand six years ago. In 2017, iVision Dynamics comes before a midsize i model between the electric i3 city car and the i8 hypercar. The automaker has promised to release 25 EV and hybrid models, and its iVision is an indication of how far the brand is willing to go to explore visual language in the age of electrification.

Mercedes-Benz has also devoted time and R&D to finding more holistic, sustainable solutions. The latest Mercedes EQA and Smart Vision EQ Fortwo are the brand’s note to “autonomous, electric urban driving.” Its AMG arm revealed its $2.7 million Project One, a hybrid hypercar with racing Formula One tech – showing the world that clean driving doesn’t have to be dull driving.

Elsewhere, Audi created Aicon as an “autonomous electric concept with no pedals or a steering wheel”. Its parent company, Volkswagen, imagined the I.D. Crozz concept to preview a high-riding electric crossover expected to go into production three years from now. The Crozz forms part of VW’s eco plans to hit a million EV sales by 2025.

It was a good year for the automotive industry; here’s hoping 2018 goes above and beyond!

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