The year is officially almost over and with it another year of driving some great cars in great places. So we thought it best to look back on the year and reflect on our pretty incredible job and all of the cars in it. So let’s talk about the best cars we drove in 2019.
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BMW M8 Competition Coupe
This year I’ve driven a lot of new BMWs, more than in any other year, but without a doubt, the BMW M8 Competition sits at the top of the pack for me. I had the chance to track the car on the Portimao Circuit in Portugal and came back impressed.
I guess what really impressed me it wasn’t the ridiculous amount of power, but rather how composed the car was. The M8 Competition, despite being a fairly large coupe, is quite a master of hiding its size and heft, while offering a thrilling driving experience.
There is little to none bodyroll, the steering is sharp and precise, the grip is unbelievable and it actually sounds good. And despite being a decent track driver, I only reached about 25 percent of its potential. An impressive piece of engineering that will cost you a penny, but it’s worth it.
I’m fortunate enough to have driven some genuinely incredible cars this past year; everything from astonishing performance cars to interesting cars of the future. I’ve driven the new BMW M8, the Rolls Royce Cullinan Black Badge and even the Audi e-tron, to name just a few.
But the best car for me in 2019 was the 1965 Mini Cooper S. I know I’ve blabbered on about this car since August when I drove it but I can’t help it. It made a lasting impression on me. Not only was it such a fun blast into the past but the actual car itself was just so much fun to drive.
I’d gladly stick one in my garage and keep it for the rest of my days, eventually passing it down to my son. It’s that sort of car. It’s also so different from the slew of high-tech super-machines I typical drive and its honesty, simplicity and pureness of heart are what make it the very best car I drove in 2019.
2019 BMW M5 Competition
Having driven the M550i in Germany, I had some pretty high expectations for the new 2019 BMW M5 Competition. The M550i is actually faster than the last generation M5. The all-new M5 though comes with extra kick and sharper handling, should mean an even more impressive drive.
In addition to being on a new chassis with more power, the biggest change between generations of M5 is the addition of all-wheel drive, an 8 Speed automatic and loss of a dual-clutch transmission.
I marvel at how the M5 Competition shrinks around you as you drive and how BMW somehow manages to control the 4200 lbs as if was my old E36 M3. It honestly is the first BMW sedan I actually felt you could shuttle a family around in during the week. Then pull the child seats out and go bombing down a race track on the weekends and do a superb job at both.
2019 was a rather full year for me, bringing a lot of opportunities out of nowhere. Choosing solely one car to stand out from the rest feels impossible right now and yet, after a lot of thinking, I managed to squeeze out a few favorites.
A lot of firsts happened for me personally in the past 12 months, such as the first time I drove a Rolls-Royce. Even though I covered only the Cullinan for BMWBLOG, I also had the chance to drive a Black Badge Wraith and the new Phantom, finally understanding what the big deal is about the double-R badge. They truly stand out from the crowd, no matter how hard you may disagree. The level of craftsmanship and the utter luxury that surrounds you whenever you’re inside a Rolls-Royce simply can’t be matched right now.
However, the driving the uttermost luxurious cars can feel a bit unnerving, especially if you’re not used to the attention they gather from literally anyone or the lifestyle they imply. Therefore, also high on that list sits a car that is literally the opposite of everything Rolls-Royce stands for.
There are others to mention as well, such as the brilliant BMW F90 M5 and the Competition version, the M2 Competition, the Porsche Panamera or the new 911. However, a few others stole the show from these brilliant modern-day engineering marvels.
E30 M3, Z8 and Morris Mini
During this summer, I was fortunate enough to be invited by BMW Classic to test a couple of their jewels in the Austrian Alps. I had the immense pleasure of driving an original 1989 BMW E30 M3, a pristine BMW Z8 that made me feel like James Bond and a 1959 Morris Mini. In my view, these three cars were more special than the Rolls-Royce luxobarges because of one simple reason: you can’t simply buy one of these.
They are such rare birds that getting not only to see one but to drive them is truly a rare occasion. And, out of the three, it was the underdog that rose above all expectations and provided the most joy per square inch. A classic Mini is truly something to behold and I never thought I could have so much fun in a car with less than 40 horsepower.