Car of the Year 2012


The 13 top new international models race to claim the title Car of the Year. Plus, Spring Fashion: bold looks, subtle lines, striking colors.

From This Issue

Car of the Year 2012: Steering Committee

The following Robb Report readers were among the guests who joined the magazine’s editors and writers in driving, evaluating, and ranking the 2012 Car of the Year candidates. Arie Adler Jim Allen GianMaria Argentini Eric Barbaro Henri Barguirdjian Craig Barto Jerry Barto Evan Bellman Doug Bergeron Michael Black Mitch Bloom Jean-Francois Boissier Todd Brady John […]

Car of the Year: Passion Hits the Pavement

“Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world,” observed George Bernard Shaw. “Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people.”  Though intended to rankle members of the Edwardian bourgeoisie—the usual targets of his barbs—this sly syllogism from the notoriously sententious Irish playwright, social reformer, and lifelong vegetarian strikes […]

Robb Design Portfolio: The Last Charge

1999 Lamborghini Diablo GT After nearly a decade of production, Lamborghini’s awe-inspiring Diablo supercar reached its performance pinnacle as the super-rare Diablo GT, a so-called street version of the factory’s GT2 racecar. With weight savings in mind, Lamborghini built the GT’s body largely of carbon fiber and made other components from aluminum, titanium, and magnesium. […]

Robb Design Portfolio: Rare Birds

A Swedish firearms maker that has produced limited-edition hunting rifles displaying design themes ranging from the Vikings to Ernest Hemingway, VO Vapen ( recently introduced its sixth collection, the VO Falcon Edition. The series, which will comprise the rifle shown here plus four customized versions—priced at $850,000 apiece—is intended as a tribute to falconry, a […]

Wings & Water: Spreading Its Wings

Anyone who has ever been to a Brazilian churrascaria knows to bring an appetite. On a late-August evening, aircraft manufacturer Embraer hosted a dinner at one of these steakhouses near the company’s main production center in São José dos Campos, in the southern Brazilian state of São Paulo. The guests were media members and other […]

FrontRunners: Histoire de Tourbillon 3

The latest collaboration between boutique watchmaker Greubel-Forsey and jeweler Harry Winston, the Harry Winston Histoire de Tourbillon 3 ( packs almost every advanced variation of the tourbillon complication into one very complex timepiece.   Debuted in 2009, the first Histoire de Tourbillon design featured side-by-side Greubel-Forsey tourbillons—a refinement meant to compensate for gravitational errors caused […]

FrontRunners: Best Buds

Engineers at the Austrian audio company AKG spent several years developing the AKG K3003 (, a $1,300 pair of earbuds that offers the detail and imaging of circumaural headphones in a considerably more convenient package. The Vienna-based manufacturer’s new buds, which began shipping to eager audiophiles in December, incorporate a three-way hybrid driver system that […]

FrontRunners: Power Move

Scheduled at press time for a February launch in the United States, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG ( is as solid as a pillbox but styled with typical AMG flair. The 2012 edition of the SUV—which features all-wheel drive and offers genuine towing capabilities—trades previous models’ larger but less powerful 6.2-liter engine for a 5.5-liter […]

FrontRunners: Loaded Gun

Italian boatbuilder Revolver designed its inaugural model, the Revolver 42 (, as something of a crossover between powerboats and weekend cruisers. Powerboat fans might recognize the sleek lines of the 42-footer, which was penned by Michael Peters, the celebrated designer behind a number of racing boats and production models from Magnum and Cigarette. Also recalling […]

FrontRunners: Vuitton Voyager

Opened in late November in New York’s Soho neighborhood, the Louis Vuitton Travel Room (212.274.9090) stocks an impressive selection of the brand’s travel trunks, luggage, accessories, and clothing. The store is the third of its kind and, like the Singapore and Milan outposts, offers bespoke products and services that range from made-to-order trunks to hand-painting […]

FrontRunners: Goldsmith Standard

Jack Row Exclusive Writing Instruments debuted its inaugural design, Architect (, in October at Harrods of Knightsbridge London. Row, a 26-year-old goldsmith based in Birmingham, England, utilized the manufacturing technique of rapid prototyping to design and produce resin models of the pen before creating the actual products. Skyscrapers in the modern urban landscape inspired his […]

FrontRunners: All in a Roe

Specialty foods purveyor Petrossian (, which has nearly a century of experience in the caviar trade, introduced in November two versatile variations on its coveted roe. Made from 100 percent sturgeon caviar, Petrossian Caviar Powder ($88 for a 30-gram bottle) can be served as whole, dried beads or ground with the bottle’s built-in mill and […]

FrontRunners: Open Sesame

The Johnnie Walker Blue Label Private Bar by Porsche Design Studio ( brings Porsche-like speed and precision to the fine art of preparing a drink. Walk up to the bar and motion sensors detect your presence, opening the capsule with a pivot and slide of the machine’s front panels. Inside are two backlit Blue Label […]

FrontRunners: From the Robb Cellar

Only a handful of Napa Valley’s legendary wines have been around for more than a decade or two, most having been introduced in the 1980s and 1990s, when the success of a few Cabernet Sauvignon–based wines spawned cult followings and inspired a number of parvenu vintners to try their hands at winemaking. Yet the wine […]

FrontRunners: Ageless Beauty

Sarah Besnainou believes that jewelry, like love, is eternal. The Parisian designer’s brand, Eternamé (, which means “make me eternal” in Greek, comprises colorful, bold designs that indeed impart a lasting quality. Unveiled in February at Chicago’s Neapolitan Collection, the designer’s new line (priced from $750 to about $50,000) includes a striking wood cuff adorned […]

Fabric of Time

Passing through the massive wrought-iron gates of Antico Setificio Fiorentino—the ancient silk mill located in the Oltrarno district of Florence, Italy—is like stepping back centuries. Beyond the entrance, a tree-lined walkway leads to a wooden building in which a series of antique handlooms busily fashion exquisite silks and brocades using patterns that date to the […]

Watches: Fashionable Hours

Over the centuries, watchmakers have exploited nearly every conceivable technique for the design and decoration of timepieces; thus, when Philippe Delhotal, artistic and creative director of Hermès’ watch division, began researching new methods for distinguishing the brand’s offerings, he set himself an ambitious goal. For the last three years, Hermès has produced extremely limited series […]

Vacation Homes: Eight Wonders

The easternmost island in the Lesser Antilles, Barbados—or “Little England,” as it is known—has long lured vacationers with its white-sand beaches, a vibrant cultural scene, and the legendary Sandy Lane hotel. Since 1961, this beach, golf, and spa resort has coddled its predominantly British clientele in a private-club-like atmosphere. Last fall, the resort took this […]

Spas: Epic Cures

It is a blazingly clear winter night in Southern California, and on the private terrace at the Beverly Wilshire, Beverly Hills, a long dining table shimmers with white orchids and floating candles. A seven-course dinner is about to begin. “Close your eyes,” the host commands. In unison, servers step behind the dinner guests and flutter […]

Jewelry: Cuff Love

When an antiques dealer showed Nico Landrigan a cabochon-sapphire brooch from the late 19th century, it was with the hope that Landrigan would buy the ornament simply to harvest its 30-carat centerpiece stone. But Landrigan, president of the jewelry house Verdura, had a different idea. Instead of breaking the brooch apart, he set the entire […]

Golf: Greek Arrival

Before the Greek debt crisis, in the rosy glow that followed the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, a self-made shipping magnate named Vassilis Constantakopoulos began to realize a long-held dream. As far back as the 1980s, Constantakopoulos began acquiring land in his native Messenia, a historically significant region of the southwest Peloponnese. He eventually decided […]

Collectibles: Drawing Power

Before Heritage Auctions acquired the estate of Garth Montgomery Williams, Ed Jaster—a senior vice president at the auction house—was not familiar with the artist. “I had never heard of him,” he admits. But like anyone else who has ever read Charlotte’s Web (or only looked at the pictures), Jaster had long been acquainted with Williams’s […]

Boating: Grande Dame

The Azimut-Benetti Group introduced its Azimut Grande series—a collection of highly customizable planing vessels measuring 100 feet and longer—in January 2011. At the time, the line consisted of the 103SL, the 105, and the popular 116, each of which had launched prior to the announcement. With its first new vessel in the series—a 120-foot beauty […]

The Robb Reader: Forrest Fenn

As an air force fighter pilot in the Vietnam War, Forrest Fenn flew 328 missions and was shot down twice. After the war, he and his wife, Peggy, settled in Santa Fe, N.M., and founded what would become the city’s most successful art-and-antiques business. Fenn Gallery specialized in Old West artifacts and paintings—Remingtons, Russells, Morans—and […]

Borgo dei Conti Resort

In the mid-1800s, Count Lemmo Rossi Scotti purchased a 13th-century fortress located halfway between Rome and Florence, in Perugia. A celebrated painter known for his exceptionally realistic military scenes, the count proved to be a gifted designer as well, gradually transforming the citadel into a lavish palace filled with Gothic tracery windows, ornate wainscoting, and […]

Hôtel Le K2

Replicating success can be a tricky proposition—just look to the many disappointing Hollywood sequels as evidence. Indeed, hoteliers Philippe Capezzone and Stanley Fink faced a tall task when they set out to build a follow-up to their decade-old Hôtel Le Kilimandjaro in the French alpine resort town of Courchevel 1850. Any doubts about their latest […]

Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore

if you visited Baltimore during the 1970s, you may have been offered a bracelet for which you could purchase charms at local attractions. Though short-lived, this promotional gimmick earned the Maryland city an endearing and enduring nickname. Today, with more grace and beauty than you might expect, Charm City wins over tourists with a historic […]

Car of the Year 2012: No. 13 Chevrolet Volt

SHORT-CIRCUITED BY THE NUMBERS   Yes, the Volt is an honest and well-meaning effort to preserve our global resources and save the polar ice caps. Granted, this plug-in hybrid did not melt its batteries once during our 10-day event. And to be sure, the family-styled sedan is more than capable of traveling almost 400 miles on […]

Car of the Year 2012: No. 11 BMW 650i Convertible

TOO SMOOTH   With the 650i, BMW may be risking its reputation as the builder of the ultimate driving machines. It may well have constructed the best-looking convertible and definitely the most stylish cruiser, with intriguing touches of passenger comforts and convenience. But little of the growl and aggression that drivers have come to expect from […]

Car of the Year 2012: No. 10 Jaguar XKR-S

PICK OF THE LITTER   With its dazzling French racing-blue paint job and enough flaps and fins to excite envy in a plecostomus, Jaguar’s hooligan took many judges by surprise. Its supercharged V-8 is a bottomless pit of power, with a bellowing exhaust note unbecoming of a Jag but welcome music to any car nut. Not […]

Car of the Year 2012: No. 9 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

SPORT, UTILITY, AND VALUE   The Grand Cherokee SRT8 seems poised to intimidate the proliferation of luxury SUVs from Porsche, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Range Rover. At half the price of its competitors, the Jeep is not just a great value but also a marvel of efficient platform engineering. It compromises little and delivers large in terms […]

Car of the Year 2012: No. 8 Nissan GT-R

POLARIZED POSITIONS   For those of us old enough to call it a Datsun, the Nissan GT-R is a revelation. It is not surprising that Godzilla, as the car is otherwise known, left a number of our judges in awe—even the ones who drive Ferrari 599s and 458 Italias. Equally unsurprising is that other judges regarded […]

Car of the Year 2012: No. 6 Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG

LIGHTING IT UP   Audi may have started the LED craze, but on this second generation of the car that launched the four-door-coupe category, Mercedes-Benz has made an art form of the headlights and tail lamps. At night, when they glow, the lights lend a sinister look that goes well with the car’s redesigned, more aggressive-looking […]

Car of the Year 2012: No. 5 Bentley Continental GTC

NO APOLOGIES   By any measure or comparison of weight and size, the Continental GTC is excessive. Without passengers it weighs almost three tons. It is longer than most primer sailboats. Manufacturing of one car consumes a month or more, not days, because Bentley’s attention to detail is agonizing. Bentley makes no apologies for its lack […]

Car of the Year 2012: No. 4 Audi A7

FIVE-DOOR COUPE   With little noise and even less posturing, Audi has caught up with its fellow Germans Porsche, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz in just about every car category. Now with the thoroughly handsome and elegantly equipped A7, Audi has entered the division that Mercedes-Benz invented: the four-door coupe—that class of so-smooth sedans that look like coupes […]

Car of the Year 2012: No. 2 Maserati GranTurismo MC

FOR COMPETING OR COMMUTING   An Italian automobile-company executive said in the late 1990s that if you cannot afford a Ferrari, you could always buy a Maserati. He could justify his condescension, for at the time Maseratis were inexpensive as well as underpowered and barely average in terms of reliability and engineering quality. Those days are […]

Outside the Lines

Photography by Blair Getz Mezibov; Styling by Christopher Campbell; Photographed at the Renee and Chaim Gross Foundation, New York Photo 1: Cesare Attolini wool jacket, $5,275, linen shirt, $525, and silk tie, $225; Ascot Chang wool pants, $995; Corneliani silk pocket square, $115; Ralph Lauren leather-and-suede shoes, $495; Punto by the British Apparel Collection socks, […]

Smoke: Rolled Gold

It is an axiom that as much as 80 percent of a cigar’s flavor comes from its wrapper. But what if that wrapper were made of pure gold? That was the burning question at last year’s International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers trade show, where an aura of excitement surrounded Daniel Marshall’s booth. Even the […]