Car of the Year 2013


2013's leading contenders shift into high gear, Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Bugatti, Ferrari, Maserati, Porsche, Rolls-Royce & more. Also, Cinematic Style - new Spring fashions revive old Hollywood. Plus, Grand Openings, modern retreats in Malta, Brazil & Bhutan.

From This Issue

Car of the Year 2013: 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 2013 Car of the Year candidates. Rudy Albers Jim Allen Mark Aubert Bill Ballentine Craig Barto Reid Berrien Mitch Bloom Richard Boberg Todd Brady John Bremer John Brincko Jim Brownell Ted Bryant Bruce […]

The Robb Reader: Barbara Banke

Like her late husband, Jess Jackson, with whom she cofounded Jackson Family Wines, Barbara Banke is a trailblazer. In the 1990s, long before others recognized the value of mountain vineyards, she began purchasing properties in Sonoma and Napa Counties that now provide grapes for such boutique prestige labels as Lokoya, Vérité, and Cardinale. Today, Banke’s […]

From the Editors: Wheels and Deals

On June 4, 1970, The New York Times announced the demise of Anna Thompson Dodge, who was then “among the world’s richest women.” The obituary—which placed her age (probably incorrectly) at 103 and her personal fortune at $100 million—regaled readers with a catalog of her assets, including a $6 million jewelry collection featuring a perfect […]

Car of the Year 2013: BMW M5

Slogan’s Hero While BMW adds models such as the X6, the X1, and the 5 Series Gran Turismo to include something for everyone, the implication in the company’s tagline—that it makes only one thing: the ultimate driving machine—starts to sound dubious. However, the M5 serves as a reminder that though BMW produces a range of […]

Car of the Year 2013: Aston Martin DB9

Model of Consistency Beauty, thy name is Aston Martin. This was the consensus among our judges, nearly all of whom lauded the aesthetics of the longest-running model in Aston Martin’s lineup. The original DB9 went on sale in 2004 and took the 2005 Car of the Year honors. The company wisely has followed with a […]

Car of the Year 2013: Audi S8

Sporty, Sophisticated, and Subtle Decisions, decisions. Audi’s bumper crop of new offerings forced the Robb Report editors to choose between the RS5, S7, and S8—each the best variant of its respective model—as the carmaker’s entrant for the Car of the Year contest. Each was worthy indeed of participating in the competition, but the S8 seemed […]

Car of the Year 2013: Ferrari FF

Wagon to a Star The FF is an anomaly in Ferrari’s lineup: It is the only all-wheel-drive model and the only shooting brake (two-door wagon). Many of the judges were aghast at the car’s anime-style grille and bulbous backside. However, once inside the FF’s impeccable cocoa-colored leather interior and behind its F/1-style wheel, the judges […]

Car of the Year 2013: Chevrolet Corvette 427

Blast from the Past The Corvette has been around so long that early detractors—mostly Eurocentric elitists who considered the car an embarrassment of plastic panels wrapped around uncouth mechanicals—have become disciples. They now interpret the Corvette’s beef and basic nature as a statement of all-American honesty. In celebration of the model’s sexagenarian status, the new […]

Car of the Year 2013: Morgan 3 Wheeler

Miles of Smiles The 3 Wheeler elicited more emotion from our judges than did all the other Car of the Year automobiles combined, though most of that emotion was expressed as unprintable invective. Evidently the vehicle put the judges in touch with primordial feelings suppressed by more civilized—more anesthetizing—conveyances. Press the 3 Wheeler’s starter button, […]

Car of the Year 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG

Sport Light Fantastic The SL progenitor, the iconic 300SL, firmly established the model’s heritage when it debuted in 1952. Today the original SLs are million-dollar-plus collectibles whose halos have cast a golden light on every SL that came after them. This is not to say that the 2013 SL63 AMG has much to do with […]

Car of the Year 2013: Maserati GranTurismo Convertible Sport

The Sound and the Jury If they had been blindfolded and asked to rate the cars solely on the sound of the engines, our judges undoubtedly would have selected the GranTurismo Convertible Sport as the Car of the Year. Maserati’s V-8 serves up a symphony of sound that is more enticing than even the familiar, […]

Car of the Year 2013: Rolls-Royce Phantom Series II Coupé

Spectral Spectacle This second generation of the reborn Phantom line—every inch of it, and there are many inches reaching in all directions—is what the world has come to expect from the company that sets the standards for the ultra-luxury-car industry. In truth, now that Bentleys are shrinking and the Maybach is no longer with us, […]

Car of the Year 2013: Bentley Continental GT V8

Easy Being Greener Since the beginnings of Bentley Motors, when the carmaker’s big and supercharged racecars were honking around Brooklands and Le Mans, the company philosophy has remained the same: If an automobile weighs too much, just give it a more powerful engine. That line of thinking was applied in 2003, when the Continental GT […]

Car of the Year 2013: Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

Wild Horses The Mustang Shelby GT500 does more than just carry the name of the late Carroll Shelby; it bears his handprint. The most obvious example of Shelby’s influence is the car’s 5.8-liter, 662 hp supercharged V-8. (The standard Mustang GT has a 420 hp V-8.) The engine is powerful enough to push the GT500 […]


The Brazilian entrepreneur Ricardo Semler strayed from the blueprint of his compatriots when he set out to build a top hotel in his home country: In a nation where luxury has been predominantly defined as international or imported, Semler’s new Botanique resort celebrates all things Brazil. Botanique opened in November in Campos do Jordão, a […]

Uma by Como, Punakha

The Kingdom of Bhutan begins and ends in the mountains, with 23,000-foot peaks marking the country’s northern border with Tibet. But in the former capital of Punakha, which sits at a relatively low 5,000 feet in central Bhutan, a tropical climate contributes to a landscape of green hillsides, rice paddies, banana trees, and poinsettia-lined roads. […]

Palazzo Vittoriosa

The Collacchio district in Malta’s former capital of Vittoriosa was once the private realm of the Knights of St. John. For decades after their arrival on the Mediterranean archipelago in 1530, members were the only people allowed to reside in the quarter, where the Inquisitor’s Palace still stands. Palazzo Vittoriosa—a new hotel set in a […]

FrontRunners: Jaquet Droz

While showcasing a new complication, the Jaquet Droz Bird Repeater ( also pays homage to the work for which the boutique Swiss watchmaker’s founder initially gained renown. The face of the $472,500 watch displays mechanical birds that move when the wearer activates the chiming repeater feature. The birds serve as nods to the creations of […]

FrontRunners: Out of the Boxster

A two-seat sports coupe for the Porsche purist, the 2014 Porsche Cayman S ( is more solid, better balanced, and nimbler than the Boxster roadster from which it derives. The Cayman S’s 3.4-liter flat-6 engine, which it shares with the Boxster S and the base-model Carrera, develops 325 hp. Paired with a 6-speed manual, the […]

FrontRunners: Strung Along

As he did for his previous collections, the Italian jewelry designer Roberto Demeglio ( experimented with unusual materials and unconventional techniques to create his latest pieces. The designs are bold and surprisingly light and wearable. Among the new pieces—priced from $1,500 to $300,000—are the striking diamond-accented Domino bracelets. Their smooth, black-and-white ceramic shapes are fastened […]

FrontRunners: A Chief Fit for Kings

The limited-edition 2013 Indian Chief Vintage Final Edition ( is intended to mark the end of the Kings Mountain, N.C., era of the Indian brand—though that era actually ended two years ago. Indian bikes have been produced at various times and by different companies since 1901. In 2011, Polaris Industries acquired the Kings Mountain company […]

FrontRunners: Right on Targa

At 62 feet long, the Fairline Targa 62 GranTurismo ( is the largest vessel in the English boatmaker’s Targa line of sport cruisers. The main saloon opens to an aft-deck seating area. There also is an aft swim platform that lowers into the water, and ample room for lounging at the bow and stern. Belowdecks […]

FrontRunners: Atomic Bomb

The sound of the Antelope Audio Rubicon Atomic AD/DA Preamplifier ( is as retro as its styling. The $40,000 component serves as an analog preamplifier, headphone amplifier, and atomic clock, and it is the first such example to feature an analog-to-digital/digital-to-analog converter capable of delivering digital files with sample rates as large as 384 kHz. […]

FrontRunners: Claim Your Steak

For nearly three years, following an import ban on Japanese beef because of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease among Japan’s cattle, U.S. connoisseurs had to do without a bite of the phenomenally tender and marbled Japanese wagyu, the original and superior version of the wagyu beef produced in the United States and Australia. The ban […]

FrontRunners: From the Robb Cellar

The Amorim family’s fortune had its beginnings among the rambling port lodges that line the hillsides above the Douro River in Porto, but the family did not amass its wealth by making Portugal’s famous fortified wine; rather, its members were engaged in the less glamorous business of manufacturing cork stoppers. Their success, however, later enabled […]

FrontRunners: Not Your Average Joe

Using an immersion-brewing technique that maintains precise control of temperature, pressure, volume, and time throughout the brewing process, the Blossom One Limited coffeemaker ( gets the most out of every bean. The $11,000 machine is the size of a French press and has built-in Wi-Fi and scanning features that enable professional and recreational baristas to […]

Robb Design Portfolio: Rallying Cry

1988 Porsche 959 With its extraordinary power, all-wheel drive, and curvaceous body, the 959 charted the course for the modern 911. Groundbreaking technology defined the 959, which Porsche created in the early 1980s to compete in the Group B rally series and then continued to develop in the late ’80s as its ultimate road car. […]

Journeys: Call of the Kimberley

It was a gorgeous night for a deck party, the sea all purple and smooth. A languid breeze purled over the stern of the MV Orion as the 338-foot luxury liner steamed through the Timor Sea. Just off the starboard rails, the wildest coast in all of Australia slipped by silently in the dark. “Are […]

Robb Design Portfolio: High Timber

Antonia Miletto (917.322.9672, recognized the creative possibilities inherent in the rugged, sculptural properties of wood 20 years ago, when she was traveling in Brazil. She began collecting native specimens and, being a jewelry designer, eventually incorporated these rich materials into a collection. “I like the crude nature of wood juxtaposed with the precision of […]

Elements of Style

Silhouette’s aviator-style sunglasses ($319) are high-performance gear for the eyes, featuring polarized gray- or brown-tinted lenses to minimize glare and an ultralight titanium frame that conforms to the shape of the face. Angelo Galasso’s python leather driving gloves ($830) are equally stylish and roadworthy, providing a supple layer of insulation for long stretches behind the […]

Wine: Beaune Voyage

The past few years have been a period of milestones for Burgundy’s Maison Louis Jadot. In 2009, the venerable négociant completed the 150th harvest since its founding in 1859, and last fall, the fruits of this labor were released to the wine-drinking public. Though the range of wines that the house crafts throughout the Côte […]

Travel: True Blue

All eyes are on the eight young men seated around the fire. The skin on their backs and shoulders is deeply scarred, having been stippled with razor blades in a pattern modeled after the scaly hide of a crocodile. The wounds have been pasted with ash and river mud and pummeled with bamboo bats, and […]

Sport: Rainbow Connection

The yellow strike indicator disappeared below the surface of Alaska’s Upper Newhalen River, followed almost instantly by a huge silver flash breaking the water downstream. My fly line unspooled with a high-pitched whine as I quickly raised the tip of my rod, a reaction that by then had become second nature. Back and forth I […]

Spirits: Haute Sake

Sake has long been merged with sushi in the minds and mouths of diners. This centuries-old fermented beverage appears in seemingly endless variety on the menus of Japanese restaurants worldwide, and many brewers in Japan have ramped up production of sake to slake the growing global thirst. But at least one sake maker’s approach to […]

Golf: Playing a New Tune

Every few years, the golf world begins to buzz with news of the Next Great Destination. It happened with Oregon’s Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in the late 1990s, and more recently with Scotland’s Castle Stuart and Nova Scotia’s Cabot Links. The latest in this line of highly anticipated resorts is located miles from civilization, in […]

Dining: Spago’s Third Act

Wolfgang Puck, one recent warm winter evening, is describing the epiphany he had about three years ago when he walked into Spago Beverly Hills, the flagship of his 100-restaurant-plus empire. “You know what?” he says. “It looked old to me. And when I get this feeling, it’s time to go to work.” This frenetic era […]

Boating: High-Class Cat

As recently as a decade ago, the European owner of the newly launched Houbara would have been hard-pressed to find a builder for his dream yacht. Among his many requirements for the boat were that it be small enough for him to sail with just two crew members but sufficiently spacious to provide ample interior […]

Aviation: More of a Good Thing

The Cessna Citation sovereign has always defied classification. Its coast-to-coast range, 12-passenger seating capacity, and 500-plus mph cruising speed can place it in the super midsize category. Yet the Sovereign has the short-runway performance, fuel economy, and price of a smaller aircraft. As attractive as these features have made the jet, Cessna announced last fall […]

Collectibles: Nothing to Sneeze At

The prices of antique Chinese snuff bottles have been on the rise in recent years, and it is likely only a matter of time before they really take off. In the last decade, China’s newly minted collectors have upended the markets for Chinese arts and antiques, pushing prices for jades and imperial Qianlong porcelain, in […]

Director’s Cuts

This season’s leading man stars in a striking period piece that features the dramatic silhouettes, bold Technicolor tones, and irresistible elegance of Hollywood’s heyday. Photo 1/2: Lanvin cotton shirt, $1,195, and silk tie, $365; Dior Homme wool trousers, $970; Tom Ford crocodile shoes, price upon request; Falke socks, $28; Oliver Peoples glasses (in hand), $340. […]

Wardrobe Call

Today’s menswear sports slimmer silhouettes and brighter fabrics, allowing men to dress with confidence and individuality of style. But a well-dressed man demands more from his wardrobe than a personal statement: He wants polished yet practical clothing that, especially during the warmer months, can be worn with equal comfort and ease in a boardroom or […]

Car of the Year 2013: The Road to Victory

That our 2013 Car of the Year was selected by a panel of readers during the first full week of November last year is pertinent to the following pages. After all, at that time, the American electorate was putting that finely tuned machine known as the Constitution of the United States through its paces—though not, […]

FrontRunners: Sole Reviver

The latest Fratelli Rossetti yacht shoe (, based on a footwear style that company founder Renzo Rossetti introduced in 1970, features a more tapered silhouette, but it retains the original design’s lightweight, slip-on form and breathable towel lining so that it can be worn comfortably without socks. The shoes, which are made in Fratelli Rossetti’s […]