An unusually diverse and uniquely daring assemblage of 13 automobiles challenged assumptions and presented our judges with the dilemma of choosing a clear winner during Robb Report‘s 22nd Car of the Year competition. The contenders comprised the Aston Martin Vanquish Volante, Audi RS 7, Bentley Continental GT V8 S, BMW i8, Cadillac ELR, Ferrari California T, Jaguar F-Type R Coupe, Kia K900, Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4, Maserati Ghibli S Q4, Mercedes-Benz S550 AMG 4-Matic Coupe, Porsche 918 Spyder (above illustration by Mike Kim), and Rolls-Royce Wraith.
Confronted with this lineup, some of our panelists approached the competition with prejudices on behalf of one marque, only to experience misgivings behind the wheel of another. This seeming discord was made more palatable by the hospitality of the Meadowood resort in St. Helena, Calif., where the guests were lodged, and the superb dinners furnished by some of the industry’s premier estates: Beringer Vineyards, Bremer Family Winery, Cade, Chimney Rock Winery, Colgin Cellars, Fantesca Estate & Winery, Far Niente, Hall Wines, Penfolds, Rutherford Hill Winery, and Viader Vineyards & Winery. Over clinking glasses and forks, the judges offered their disquisitions and disputes; cynics vied with optimists, realists with passionate believers, and in the end, truth—and a winner—revealed itself.