25th Annual Best of the Best

Overview

The quintessential guide to the world's finest new automobiles, yachts, hotels, watches, wines, and much more. 175+ award winners - featuring Aston Martin, Ferrari, McLaren, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Bombardier, Patek Philippe, Chopard, Chanel, Cartier, Amanresorts and more.

From This Issue

Best of the Best 2013: Vacation Homes: Castello di Casole

Once the estate of Siena’s noble Bargagli family—and, later, the famed film director Luchino Visconti—Castello di Casole occupies 4,200 undulating acres within an hour’s drive of Florence, Siena, and Chianti. Now a resort community operated by Timbers Resorts, the property encompasses a new boutique hotel and a collection of residences that have literally risen from […]

Best of the Best 2013: Vacation Homes: Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve (787.796.5620, http://www.doradobeach.com), opened last December on the site of Laurance S. Rockefeller’s original Dorado Beach Resort in Puerto Rico. Set on a pristine stretch of sand within the greater Dorado Beach community, the 50-acre property encompasses a 115-room hotel, a new beach club, an indoor-outdoor spa, and chef José Andrés’s […]

Best of the Best 2013: Hotels: Palais Namaskar

Marrakech’s Medina is a whirlwind of activity, where shopkeepers hawk colorful tapestries and fragrant spices while snake charmers and fortune-tellers implore tourists for a dirham or two. But the scene is remarkably serene in the nearby Palmeraie neighborhood, an upscale enclave of Marrakech where the Palais Namaskar opened in April of last year. A haven […]

Best of the Best 2013: Hotels: The Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel

The Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel (+39.041.794.611, www.thegrittipalace.com), reopened to great fanfare—and even greater expectations—this February. Set on Venice’s Grand Canal, just steps from St. Mark’s Square, the Gothic grande dame was originally built as a private palazzo in the 15th century. Opened as a hotel in the late 1800s, the Gritti Palace was in […]

Best of the Best 2013: Hotels: The Siam

Visitors to Bangkok can escape the city’s notorious traffic and cacophony inside the Siam (+662.206.6999, http://www.thesiamhotel.com), a colonial-inspired retreat that opened last June along the Chao Phraya River. Designed by the American architect Bill Bensley, the hotel is decorated with the Thai owner’s museum-quality Thai and European antiques. Cloud-like beds, deep soaking tubs, and soaring […]

Best of the Best 2013: Hotels: Bulgari Hotel & Residences London

Set in the heart of trendy Knightsbridge, near Harrods and Hyde Park, the Bulgari Hotel & Residences London (www.bulgarihotels.com) embodies the fashion house’s timeless elegance and modern sophistication. Silver is the color theme throughout the contemporary retreat, where all 85 rooms and suites offer constant reminders of the hotel’s heritage: Bulgari bath amenities, Bulgari luggage […]

Best of the Best 2013: Resorts: Amanzoe

The whitewashed villages and sandy slopes of Santorini and Mykonos have long shaped the traveler’s image of the essential Greek getaway. But a new Grecian idyll has emerged on the Peloponnese peninsula, where the country’s first Amanresorts property, Amanzoe, opened in August outside the tony village of Porto Heli. Set along a dramatic cliff some […]

Best of the Best 2013: Resorts: The Alpina Gstaad

To enter the new Alpina Gstaad (+41.33.888.9888, http://www.thealpina​gstaad​.ch), guests walk through a gallery constructed from Ringgenberg stone that took five craftsmen four years to hand-chisel. Reaching the Swiss Alps property’s light-filled lobby, new arrivals check in to one of 56 HBA-designed accommodations outfitted with leathers, silks, and hand-painted antique armoires. The $337 million resort, which […]

Best of the Best 2013: Resorts: Monastero Santa Rosa

In the 17th century, the Amalfi Coast’s most notable families often sent their eldest daughters to Monastero Santa Rosa in lieu of marrying them off and distributing their wealth. Dramatically perched atop a cliff just north of the fishing village of Conca dei Marini, the sanctuary was hardly monastic, with its intricately landscaped gardens and […]

Best of the Best 2013: Resorts: Singita Mara River Tented Camp

When compared with Singita’s over-the-top lodges in South Africa and in Tanzania’s Grumeti Reserves, the safari company’s new Singita Mara River Tented Camp (+27.21.683.3424, www​.singita.com) seems downright reserved. The low-key luxury lodge opened in November in the northernmost corner of Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, along a bend above the Mara River. Guests of its six […]

Best of the Best 2013: Resorts: Dedon Island

Dedon Island (+49.40.30.70.86.693, http://www.dedonisland.com) is not actually an island. But the nine-villa retreat—set along the sparkling sea on the southeastern coast of the Philippines’ Siargao Island—feels every bit as secluded and exclusive as a private-isle resort. The first hotel developed by the outdoor-furniture manufacturer Dedon, this 10-​acre property serves as an exotic and elaborate showroom […]

Best of the Best 2013: Resorts: D-Hotel Maris

D-Hotel Maris (+90.252.441.2000, www​.dhotel.com.tr) has long claimed one of Turkey’s most spectacular locations. Following a 1.5-year renovation, the resort reopened last April with a stylish new design that at last matches its enviable environs. Perched along a hillside on the Datça Peninsula—the crossroads of the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas—the 200-room property features five private beaches, […]

Best of the Best 2013: Resorts: Niyama Maldives

The second Maldives property from the Singapore-based Per Aquum group, Niyama Maldives (+960.676.2828, www​.niyama.com) is a stylishly serene retreat set on a lush island of the remote Dhaalu Atoll. The resort, which opened in March 2012, caters to both honeymooners and families with its 95 thatch-roofed beach and water villas, all with Bose surround-sound systems […]

Best of the Best 2013: Golf Courses: Trump International Golf Links, Scotland

The pressure was on Martin Hawtree. To start with, the course architect’s client was a demanding plutocrat who is never afraid to say how things will be. He had also handed Hawtree a site for which every course designer in the world would swim the Atlantic—and one where local environmentalists would be watching his every […]

Best of the Best 2013: Golf Courses: Cabot Links

Unlike most other courses that appropriate the term, Cabot Links (902.258.4653, http://www.cabotlinks.com) actually is a links. The year-old Rod Whitman layout on Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island is rich in the traits that identify the traditional layouts of Scotland and Ireland—sandy soil along the water’s edge, persistent wind, and landscape that resembles an unmade bed. […]

Best of the Best 2013: Golf Courses: Streamsong

Three of modern golf architecture’s heavyweights ventured into the middle of nowhere to build a spectacular pair of courses at the new Streamsong (863.354.6980, www​.streamsongresort​.com) resort in central Florida. Working on the site of an old phosphorus mine about halfway between Tampa and Orlando, Tom Doak and the design team of Bill Coore and Ben […]

Best of the Best 2013: Spas: Miraval Life in Balance Spa with Clarins

Opened in 1996, the Miraval Resort & Spa in Tucson, Ariz., was a pioneer in the world of wellness. But in the years since the 400-acre spa resort debuted, first-rate spas that in many ways surpassed Miraval’s own facility have sprouted up in resorts and city hotels worldwide. The completion of the new Miraval Life […]

Best of the Best 2013: Men’s Watches: Finishing: Patek Philippe Ref. 5204 Split-Seconds Chronograph/Perpetual Calendar

Collectors continue to prize the traditional split-seconds chronograph, whose movement boasts an additional canopy of springs, wheels, and levers that makes this type of watch a masterpiece of mechanical art. Patek Philippe reaffirmed its leadership in this category of rare timepieces with 2005’s ultrathin split-seconds chronograph movement—the first of the house’s modern generation of original, […]

Best of the Best 2013: Men’s Watches: Technical Innovation: Breguet Classique Chronometrie 7727

Though the use of silicon for watch parts has been touted as a revolutionary development, most watch buyers have had trouble discerning the actual benefits to the wearer. Breguet’s Classique Chronometrie 7727 (price available upon request) is the most dramatic of a new generation of timepieces that promise perceptibly improved accuracy resulting from increased running […]

Best of the Best 2013: Men’s Watches: Visual Artistry: De Bethune IX Mayan Underworld

While the aesthetics of watchmaking are receiving more attention from design teams than ever before, few visual-arts pieces can match the concept that informs De Bethune’s 12-piece IX Mayan Underworld ($95,000) limited edition. Created for the much-anticipated end of the Mayan Long Count calendar, the engraved timepiece pays tribute to that culture’s unique way of […]

Best of the Best 2013: Men’s Watches: Lifestyle: Glashütte Original Grande Cosmopolite Tourbillon

Elaborate complicated watches are seldom prized for their user-friendliness or utility. However, Glashütte Original’s Grande Cosmopolite Tourbillon ($366,000), the most complicated watch the brand has yet produced—and the first it has designed specifically for the traveler—may challenge this convention. The timepiece marries a flying tourbillon—the brand’s signature version of that complication—to a world-time function and […]

Best of the Best 2013: Women’s Watches: Jewelry: Chopard Imperiale Tourbillon Joaillerie

Many high-end women’s watches are first and foremost pieces of jewelry, but Chopard’s latest Imperiale Tourbillon Joaillerie (price available upon request) was conceived as a tour de force of watchmaking. Though the timepiece exhibits many of the most demanding stone-setting techniques in use—invisible mountings; graduated baguettes placed in channels; and pavé snow setting—the Imperiale commands […]

Best of the Best 2013: Women’s Watches: Complication: De Grisogono Tondo Tourbillon Gioiello

Creating a viable complicated watch for women requires a grasp of the shifting currents of contemporary style—something seldom found in the technically oriented workshops of Switzerland. De Grisogono, however, has gracefully merged its flamboyant yet unfailing fashion sense with engineering acumen in the Tondo Tourbillon Gioiello ($230,500 to $261,000), mixing its penchant for edgy lines […]

Best of the Best 2013: Women’s Watches: Conceptual Innovation: Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Poetic Wish

Van Cleef & Arpels has established a niche for itself in horology by stretching imaginative boundaries with its elaborate and charming concepts. Poetic Wish (price available upon request), the house’s latest collaboration with the independent watchmaker Jean-Marc Wiederrecht, reaffirms Van Cleef & Arpels’s unique position in the industry by placing a complex mechanical system in […]

Best of the Best 2013: Women’s Watches: Visual Artistry: Dior VIII Grand Bal Plume

The feathers decorating the winding rotor of the Grand Bal Plume watches (prices available upon request) cleverly link these Dior creations to their counterparts in the world of haute couture, where the legendary brand has reigned for decades. Making this visual connection between fine watchmaking and fashion, however, proved far more complicated than embroidering embellishments […]

Best of the Best 2013: Jewelry: Collection: Chanel 1932

In 1932, Coco Chanel created her first and only diamond-jewelry collection, which was inspired by the Parisian night sky. Last year, for the 80th anniversary of that debut, the French fashion house reimagined the celestial theme of the original designs in a series of elaborate, fanciful diamond pieces. The new collection includes these four lighthearted […]

Best of the Best 2013: Jewelry: Newcomer: Wilfredo Rosado

After spending most of his career working with Andy Warhol and Giorgio Armani, Wilfredo Rosado introduced in 2011 his own fine-jewelry collection, which comprised statement pieces fashioned from diamonds, gold, and flamboyant 4-inch feathers. Once again toying with convention, Rosado has adorned his 2013 collection of diamond and gold floral creations with tinted leather petals. […]

Best of the Best 2013: Jewelry: Diamonds: Graff

Renowned for procuring some of the world’s rarest diamonds, Laurence Graff is now transforming these stones into exotically designed jewelry. This year, Graff and his team of designers began incorporating influences that span cultures and centuries, from the colorful Indian Mughal era to the ornate European baroque period. Such references inform this diamond cuff, which […]

Best of the Best 2013: Jewelry: Retailer: Louis Vuitton Place Vendôme

When Louis Vuitton decided to create its first jewelry-and-watch salon, which opened last year, the brand selected the world’s most prestigious address for high-jewelry houses: the Place Vendôme in Paris. The architect Peter Marino transformed an 18th-century townhouse into a contemporary masterpiece, whose warm rosewood paneling, tobacco-colored leather walls, and commissioned works of art by […]

Best of the Best 2013: Jewelry: Use of Color: Sharon Khazzam

When Sharon Khazzam designs a piece of jewelry, she begins with a palette made up of the thousands of colorful gemstones stored in her Long Island studio. Like a painter, Khazzam selects stones with the perfect hues—rather than those with the highest intrinsic values—to create one-of-a-kind designs with natural harmony. “It takes days, weeks, and […]

Best of the Best 2013: Jewelry: Estate Jewelry: Stephen Russell

Uncovering stylish, superbly executed vintage jewels that also complement the contemporary woman’s wardrobe requires a discerning eye—and relentless determination. For this reason, collectors flock to the Stephen Russell salon on Madison Avenue in New York City, where every piece of jewelry on display is meticulously chosen by the owners, Russell Zelenetz and Stephen Feuerman. “A […]

Best of the Best 2013: Jewelry: Innovator: G International

For more than 25 years, the London and Geneva gem dealer Glenn Spiro served as the anonymous source for some of the world’s rarest stones, as well as the unnamed designer of showstopping pieces for major jewelry houses. But in 2011, Spiro stepped out from behind the veil of obscurity with the introduction of a […]

Best of the Best 2013: Jewelry: Use of Metal: Lugano Diamonds

The shock effect of setting precious stones in industrial materials, such as titanium and copper, has long been a thing of the past. But in 2012, Lugano Diamonds achieved a similar element of surprise by making creative use of a metal unknown heretofore in fine jewelry: zirconium. The jeweler, based in Newport Beach, Calif., fashioned […]

Best of the Best 2013: Men’s Fashion: Fabric Innovation: Kiton

Kiton, the neapolitan master of quiet luxury, has raised the bar yet again. The brand spent more than a year and $1 million to create the world’s first patterned vicuña, a sublimely soft, lightweight fabric that is being used to make just 50 topcoats ($34,900 each). Weaving vicuña is a difficult process and a true […]

Best of the Best 2013: Men’s Fashion: Suits: Berluti

Berluti has made finely handcrafted footwear for more than a century, but the Parisian brand is the new kid when it comes to menswear. In the house’s second year offering clothing, the designer Alessandro Sartori presented a collection that reflects the assured lineage of the brand, with a lineup of contemporary suits that echo the […]

Best of the Best 2013: Men’s Fashion: Evening Wear: Valentino

The Valentino designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli are known for their impeccable couture tailoring, and this year they brought that same attention to detail and construction to the label’s collection of evening wear. Their tuxedos, in navy or black, feature trim silhouettes that subtly refer to the 1960s. Novel elements, such as removable […]

Best of the Best 2013: Men’s Fashion: Brand Redux: Brioni

Creative director Brendan Mullane’s first collection for Brioni was both trumpeted by the fashion world and true to the Italian suitmaker’s elegant tailoring. Mullane—the former head designer for Givenchy menswear and a veteran of luxury houses including Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, and Alexander McQueen—employs a sophisticated palette of muted greens and maroon and adds exceptional […]

Best of the Best 2013: Men’s Fashion: Newcomer: Massimo Piombo

The Italian menswear designer Massimo Piombo hit his stride with MP by Massimo Piombo, a new venture sponsored by none other than Kiton, which is producing and backing the line. Piombo has a penchant for richly colored, printed, and patterned materials, and he uses them in a first-rate lineup of topcoats, sport coats, and suits, […]

Best of the Best 2013: Men’s Fashion: Sportswear: Isaia

Gianluca Isaia, the owner and president of the Italian menswear brand Isaia, introduced his first full sportswear collection this year and delivered superbly cut slacks and sport coats with trims, linings, and pocket details on a par with those of his superbly cut suits. Inspired by the chapel of San Gennaro in Naples, Isaia selected […]

Best of the Best 2013: Men’s Fashion: Use of Fur: Hermès

Mink is a tricky material for menswear, but leave it to Véronique Nichanian, the endlessly inventive men’s artistic director at Hermès, to reimagine a lavish mink skin as part of a reversible cashmere sweater ($31,100). “I designed this to wear with the sheared mink on your skin and the cashmere outside, or vice versa according […]

Best of the Best 2013: Men’s Fashion: Knitwear: Tom Ford

Tom Ford’s versatility in men’s fashion goes well beyond tailored clothing. For his expansive collection of knitwear, the famously meticulous designer employed small ateliers in Europe to hand-knit contemporary designs, such as cardigans of wool, cashmere, and alpaca with shearling collars. The collection’s 15 styles range from fine cashmere pullovers to this bulky wool-and-cashmere turtleneck […]

Best of the Best 2013: Men’s Fashion: Footwear: Santoni

This season, Giuseppe Santoni stepped into a leadership role in the footwear company his father established in Corridonia, Italy, in 1975. The son has brought a new energy to the collection, giving classic styles a dynamic twist, such as the dyed-crocodile ombré on this pair of double monk straps ($4,466) and the super-chunky rubber soles […]

Best of the Best 2013: Men’s Fashion: Cuff Links: David Webb

Some great designs get better with age, and that is the case with David Webb’s cuff links. The American jewelry designer, who died in 1975, left a legacy of finished pieces and unrealized sketches. Now, under the careful eye of the brand’s new owners, Mark Emanuel and Robert Sadian, more of Webb’s bold and playful […]

Best of the Best 2013: Men’s Fashion: Luggage: Louis Vuitton

When Louis Vuitton began making luggage in 1854, it produced trunks for clients who traveled by horse and carriage. Today it caters to fast-paced travelers who require bags that can roll along as speedily as they do. The new Zephyr Pegase trolley series ($3,450 to $4,250), the brand’s first four-wheel bags, are made from thermocompressed […]

Best of the Best 2013: Men’s Fashion: Fall Staple: Brunello Cucinelli

Every season has its must-have item—a piece that both updates a man’s wardrobe and blends seamlessly into it. This fall it is Brunello Cucinelli’s reversible cashmere vest. Cucinelli has made the vest a personal trademark for years, layering it over a sport coat for a casual edge or wearing it more conventionally over a shirt […]

Best of the Best 2013: Men’s Fashion: Topcoat: Cesare Attolini

Time seems to move at a slower pace in Cesare Attolini’s atelier in Naples. No one is rushed to finish a garment on deadline, and the Attolini family has no qualms about devoting hours to hand-cut and sew a single piece. It takes more than 25 hours to make this peacoat ($5,400), and the effort […]

Best of the Best 2013: Men’s Fashion: Technological Fabrics: Zegna Sport

The latest technology is today’s most coveted fashion accessory, and Ermenegildo Zegna is taking the idea to an electrifying extreme. Zegna Sport’s new Icon Jacket ($1,295) is a waterproof microfiber piece with full wireless connectivity via Bluetooth equipment. An integrated microphone and joystick control on the sleeve allow conversations and voice dialing even when the […]

Best of the Best 2013: Sedans: Maserati Quattroporte

Throughout its 50-year production run and through what is now its sixth generation, the Maserati Quattroporte has been a beautiful, fast, and comfortable sedan. The latest version, designed by Maserati’s in-house design team, replaces the decade-old fifth generation, a beauty that was penned by Pininfarina. The 2014 model is just as attractive and a little […]

Best of the Best 2013: Sedans: Aston Martin Rapide S

Few will disagree that the 2014 Aston Martin Rapide S (www.astonmartin.com) is the most gorgeous new sedan on the road. Its shape is classic Aston Martin: long, low, and wide, with a contemporary yet timeless elegance. The differences between the previous model—the Rapide sans the S—which debuted in 2009, and this one are either cosmetic […]

Best of the Best 2013: Sedans: Lexus IS 350 F Sport

The 2014 Lexus IS 350 F Sport (www.lexus.com) serves as proof that the Japanese automaker can produce a car that is the equal of benchmark sport sedans from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. The Sport combines a 306 hp V-6 with an 8-speed gearbox (on the rear-wheel-drive model) inherited from the high-performance IS F model. The […]

Best of the Best 2013: Sedans: Audi S8

High performance does not need to be in your face. Understatement speaks louder to drivers who understand the difference between cars adorned with often-superfluous exterior trim and those with real go-fast hardware. The 2013 Audi S8 (www.audiusa.com) definitely falls into the latter category. It eschews conspicuous aerodynamic components in favor of a twin-turbo V-8 all-wheel-drive […]

Best of the Best 2013: Sedans: Rolls-Royce Phantom Series II

The 2013 Rolls-Royce Phantom Series II (www.rollsroycemotorcars.com), the model’s second generation, extends the British automaker’s custom of indulging owners with painstaking craftsmanship and infinite luxury inherited from more elegant times. The Phantom Series II is a family of four variants. In addition to majestic standard- and long-wheelbase sedans ($400,000 and $470,000, respectively), the series includes […]

Best of the Best 2013: SUVs: Range Rover Autobiography

Land Rover presents the 2013 Range Rover Autobiography as the pinnacle of its Range Rover line. This is a lofty rank, considering the quality craftsmanship and the off-roading prowess of the standard-issue Range Rover models. Autobiography refers to the various ways in which an owner can personalize his or her Range Rover, or at least […]

Best of the Best 2013: SUVs: Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG

The boulder-cluttered trails of the Schöckl, an approximately 4,700-foot peak in Austria, have hobbled many a hiker and mountain biker and maybe even a mountain goat or two. But rarely do they stall the engineers and drivers at Magna Steyr, the Austrian builder of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG (www.mbusa.com) and all G-Class vehicles (formerly […]

Best of the Best 2013: SUVs: BMW X1

The design of the 2014 BMW X1 (www.bmwusa.com) looks like that of a 1 Series sedan that has been pumped up and stretched into a wagon. And like the 1 Series, the X1 offers a satisfying on-road driving experience. However, the X1 has the ride height of an SUV and BMW’s optional xDrive all-wheel drive, […]

Best of the Best 2013: SUVs: Audi Allroad

An alternative to truck-based SUVs and crossovers, the 2013 Audi Allroad (www.audiusa.com) offers an SUV profile in a car-size package. Based on Audi’s A4 station wagon platform, the Allroad has a starting price of $40,000; equipped with every available option, it costs about $55,000. The Allroad will not climb rocks, but the Quattro all-wheel drive […]

Best of the Best 2013: SUVs: Porsche Cayenne GTS

The resounding success of Porsche’s SUV series can be attributed to its deft blending of performance and practicality. The $83,000 Porsche Cayenne GTS (www.porsche.com) is the perfect complement to a 911; it allows performance-oriented drivers to scratch their itch even when picking up groceries or a pair of studio monitors. The 2013 GTS is equipped […]

Best of the Best 2013: Speciality Vehicles: Sports Car: AC 378 GT Zagato

The drop-dead-gorgeous AC 378 GT Zagato sports car, initially unveiled in 2009 as the Perana Z-one and shown last year by AC Cars at the Geneva Motor Show, is finally available in America. The Italian coachbuilder Zagato crafts the composite body; the rest of the car, except for the power train, is finished in South […]

Best of the Best 2013: Speciality Vehicles: Contemporary Off-Road Vehicle: AEV Brute Double Cab

For its latest overland vehicle, the Wixon, Mich.–based American Expedition Vehicles takes the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, a very capable four-door, four-wheel-drive transport, and transforms it into the AEV Brute Double Cab, a go-anywhere pickup truck that seats five passengers comfortably. The Brute evokes the Land Rover 130 of the 1980s—not the more genteel Gladiator pickup […]

Best of the Best 2013: Sports Cars: Ferrari F12 Berlinetta

Excluding the new $1 million LaFerrari hybrid, the 2013 F12 Berlinetta is the quickest, fastest, and most powerful Ferrari road car ever. An enormous 6.3-liter, 730 hp V-12 enables the F12 to leap from rest to 60 mph in 3 seconds and then roar and snarl in arpeggio licks to a top speed of 210 […]

Best of the Best 2013: Sports Cars: Porsche 911 Carrera 4S

Hot on the heels of Robb Report’s 2013 Car of the Year comes the $106,000 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S (www.porsche.com). This is the all-wheel-drive version of the Carrera S, the contest’s winner. The 2013 4S is powered by the same 3.8-liter, 400 hp engine, enabling the car to sprint from zero to 60 mph in […]

Best of the Best 2013: Sports Cars: SRT Viper

The flagship of Chrysler’s new Street & Racing Technology division, the 2013 SRT Viper (www.drivesrt.com) has become more refined yet remains a brazen statement of American muscle. Compared to the previous version, the new Viper, which has a base price of about $97,000, displays a slinkier shape, with Ferrari-like curves, and its engine revs higher […]

Best of the Best 2013: Sports Cars: Nissan GT-R

When the Nissan GT-R (www.nissanusa.com) first arrived in America, in the summer of 2008, it compared favorably with the Corvette as a great-bang-for-the-buck performance vehicle. It had a zero-to-60-mph time of under 3.5 seconds and a price of less than $70,000. The 2014 GT-R, powered by a 545 hp twin-turbo V-6, rivals the Porsche 911 […]

Best of the Best 2013: Sports Cars: Audi R8 V10 Plus

The biggest plus of the 2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus (www.audi.com) and other new R8 variants is a minus. Audi has eliminated the jerky shifts that plagued previous versions of the R8 by replacing the frustrating single-clutch R-Tronic transmission with a 7-speed, dual-clutch gearbox called S-Tronic. The effect is transformative. The transmission’s quick, seamless shifts […]

Best of the Best 2013: Convertibles: Jaguar F-Type V8 S

When the F-Type’s sports-car predecessor, the E-Type, debuted in 1961, Road & Track’s Henry N. Manney III famously called it “the greatest crumpet catcher known to man.” For 14 years, the E-Type spun a web of seduction, but after its production ceased, Jaguar went nearly four decades without a proper sports car. Finally, with an […]

Best of the Best 2013: Convertibles: Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse

For those who have it all and still want more, there is the 2013 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse (www.bugatti.com). The Vitesse boasts an impressive collection of numbers, beginning with its $2.25 million price. Next is the car’s 8-liter, 16-cylinder engine, which produces 1,200 hp. Paired with a lightning-quick 7-speed double-clutch transmission, the engine […]

Best of the Best 2013: Convertibles: McLaren 12C Spider

A key to the extraordinary agility of the 2013 McLaren 12C Spider (www.mclaren​automotive.com) is the car’s weight—or rather lack of weight. The $266,000 convertible tips the scales at barely 3,000 pounds, or about a half ton lighter than, say, Jaguar’s XK convertible. That is the result when the car’s chassis, unibody, lids, cladding, and doors […]

Best of the Best 2013: Convertibles: Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 Roadster

The 2013 Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 Roadster (www.lamborghini.com) features the same rapier silhouette and screaming V-12 engine as its coupe forerunner, which earned Robb Report’s 2012 Car of the Year crown. The Roadster is equipped with a removable roof made of two carbon-fiber panels, each weighing only 13.2 pounds. As a whole, the $445,000 Roadster weighs […]

Best of the Best 2013: Convertibles: Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG Roadster

This year’s Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG Roadster (www.mbusa.com) has the power and performance capabilities to back up the bolder look that came with last year’s redesign of the SL line. The car, which has a base price of about $146,000, is powered by a twin-turbo, 5.5-liter V-8 that pumps out 530 hp and enables a zero-to-60-mph […]

Best of the Best 2013: Coupes & GTs: Aston Martin Vanquish

Other cars in this category may be faster and more extreme looking than the Aston Martin Vanquish, but none offers a better blend of performance, design, and craftsmanship. After a five-year hiatus, the Vanquish has returned to Aston Martin’s lineup, replacing the DBS as the range topper and carrying a starting price of $280,000. The […]

Best of the Best 2013: Coupes & GTs: Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series

The fifth AMG model to receive the Black Series treatment, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series (www.mbusa.com) features GT3 racecar-influenced performance enhancements. These include aerodynamic refinements for high-speed stability, and they have resulted in a fearsome power-to-weight ratio of 5.5 pounds per unit of horsepower; that is the highest-ever ratio for a Mercedes-Benz road […]

Best of the Best 2013: Coupes & GTs: Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

Carroll Shelby has passed, but he has left us a wonderfully overpowered Mustang to remember him by. The 2014 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 (www.ford.com) is the most potent production car made in the United States, packing a tire-melting 662 hp that is generated by a supercharged 5.8-liter V-8. The engine sounds glorious and makes this […]

Best of the Best 2013: Coupes & GTs: Bentley Continental GT Speed

In terms of poise and positioning, no contemporary car matches the 2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed (www.bentleymotors.com). It offers double the amount of comfort and luxury that any human requires when traveling over long distances. It is a classic of handcraftsmanship amid today’s cost crimping and outsourced inferiorities. And the GT Speed represents a triumph […]

Best of the Best 2013: Coupes & GTs: BMW M6 Coupe

The BMW M6 Coupe (www.bmwusa.com) may have lost its V-10 engine for the 2013 model year, but rest assured that the German automaker has not lost its way. The big coupe is completely new, and it is a revelation. The $108,000 M6 is no longer afflicted with BMW’s unwieldy SMG transmission or the bulbous rear […]

Best of the Best 2013: Motorcycles: Sportbike: Ducati 1199 Panigale R

The word refined is rarely associated with brutally powerful motorcycles, but the descriptor does suit the 2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R, a still-menacing yet more polished version of the 1199 model that preceded it. The Panigale R has a starting price of just under $30,000. The alterations begin with the 1,198 cc L-twin powerplant. The […]

Best of the Best 2013: Motorcycles: Cruiser: Moto Guzzi California 1400 Custom

From Italy, a country renowned for producing scooters and high-performance sporting motorcycles, comes the year’s top cruiser, the 2013 Moto Guzzi California 1400 Custom. It is the latest iteration in a line dating to 1970, when Moto Guzzi introduced the original California, a cruiser based on a model that the motorcycle manufacturer had sold first […]

Best of the Best 2013: Motorcycles: Adventure/Touring: BMW R 1200 GS

Since its introduction in 1980, BMW’s GS series of motorcycles had been powered by air-cooled engines. Now, with the 2013 R 1200 GS, BMW has introduced a liquid-cooled horizontally opposed powerplant. More stringent emissions regulations may have prompted BMW’s move to liquid cooling, but the change benefits the bike’s performance as well as the environment. […]

Best of the Best 2013: Electronics: Speakers: Steinway Lyngdorf Model LS Concert

Priced at $172,000 per pair, the 8.2-foot-tall Steinway Lyngdorf Model LS Concert (212.588.9330, http://www.steinwaylyngdorf.com) is a floor-standing loudspeaker featuring 15 vertically stacked 5.25-inch midrange drivers that are open at the back. This design, by the Danish audio wizard Peter Lyngdorf, allows sound to reflect off the back wall of a room and create a diffused, […]

Best of the Best 2013: Electronics: Speakers: Yacht Audio

Originally built for use aboard megayachts, the Yacht Audio (+49.30.​5470.7475, http://www.yachtaudio.com) in-wall and in-ceiling speakers were designed to meet the demanding quality standards of cost-is-no-object installations. In August, the German manufacturer released the speakers for residential applications—priced at $10,000 per pair for the in-ceiling speakers and $25,000 per pair for the in-walls. Both speakers are […]

Best of the Best 2013: Electronics: Digital Audio: Burmester 111 Musiccenter

The $49,995 Burmester 111 Musiccenter (+49.30.787.9680, http://www.burmester.de) is a music server—a system that offers playback of any digital music file—as well as a preamplifier with a built-in reference-grade digital-to-analog converter. The 111 features three analog audio inputs and nine digital ones; a 3-terabyte onboard hard drive (plus another 3-terabyte backup drive); a CD loading slot; […]

Best of the Best 2013: Electronics: Digital Audio: DCS Vivaldi

The $108,500 DCS Vivaldi (+44.1954.233.950, http://www.dcsltd​.co.uk) is a four-box audio system comprising a digital-to-analog converter, an audio-signal up-sampler, a disc transport capable of CD and SACD playback, and a master clock. The system, which can handle any digital music file now available, pairs well with any Apple mobile product, bypassing that company’s low-grade internal digital-decoding […]

Best of the Best 2013: Electronics: Analog Audio: Clearaudio Master Innovation

With the Clearaudio Master Innovation (+49.​1805.05.95.95, http://www.clearau​dio.de), the German audio manufacturer puts a new spin on turntable technology. The turntable’s two-platter magnetic drive system consists of a lower platter, powered by a belt-driven DC motor, that magnetically spins the massive 2.75-inch upper platter without any physical contact, thus eliminating any vibrations that would affect vinyl […]

Best of the Best 2013: Electronics: Analog Audio: Mark Levinson No. 52

The $30,000 Mark Levinson No. 52 (818.893.8411, http://www.marklevinson.com) is the 41-year-old brand’s new flagship preamplifier. The component features a dual-monaural, two-chassis design to keep the audio circuitry isolated from the controls, digital circuitry, and power supplies, thus ensuring the purity of the audio signal paths. Three balanced XLR inputs pair with four unbalanced RCA ones, […]