Ahh, New Year, new you.
Better yet, new car.
The Chinese Zodiac tells us 2015 is the year of the Green Wooden Ram, if you believe all that. (It’s also known as the Year of the Sheep or Goat -- the details remain foggy).
Let’s go with the ram: Apparently that wooly creature represents prosperity and well-being, and the relaxed feeling that comes after work well-done. 2014 was the year of the horse, after all—a proper beast of burden. Work animal. So it’s only fitting that you should reward yourself with something grand.
I’ve got a few ideas.
Why not consider the $106,500 Audi RS7? It’s a fastback four-door sedan that marries Audi’s S line of sporty sedans to its performance R line. It comes with a turbocharged 560- horsepower V8 engine, 516 reassuring pound-feet of torque, and a top speed of 174 mph. Adaptive suspension, a high performance- tuned eight-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive are standard.
Rims, Fender, Grille
The RS7 will hit 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, equal to the Mercedes CLS63AMG and much quicker than similarly priced Porsche 911 Carrera (0-60mph in 4.3 seconds). The 20-inch rims, flared front fenders, and gaping black grille are perfect counterparts to the sexy slanted roofline and clean side body. If you want the space and power of a large sedan but won’t sacrifice the performance and allure of a sport coupe, you’ll love it.
How about something with fewer doors but more grandeur? Try the six-figure Rolls-Royce Wraith, a 5,500-pound, 17-foot coupe whose nimble athleticism, silent interior and haute style beat all competitors in this range. Not that it really has any competitors: The Wraith has a V12, 624-horsepower twin-turbo engine, power-operated doors that swing out the opposite way of most cars, and a massive trunk. Beat that, if you can.
Or maybe something whippet-light and considerably less polite: The McLaren 650S Spider. McLaren introduced its $280,000 650S line as a second act to 2011’s successful 12C. Its unmistakable swooping sidelines and gaping air intakes mark it as a direct descendent of the line’s Formula One icons—but this Spider is much more than just an update or afterthought. It has a twin-turbo V8 mid-placed engine (641 horsepower, 500 pound- feet of torque), new double-wishbone suspension, and a Formula One-derived seven-speed double-clutch transmission that gives quite an elegant performance. Its three-second zero-to-62mph sprint time beats the 12C, Ferrari F12, and Porsche 911 Turbo. Top speed is 207 mph. I like this one for its virtual perfection as a road-friendly race car.
A Caged Cat
For a convertible with a pedigree, consider the F-Type Jaguar. It’s modern but also a direct descendant of the E-Type, a car often considered the most beautiful ever made. The 2016 versions of the F-Type coupe and convertible come with a manual gearbox—increasingly rare in any automobiles—or optional all- wheel-drive. Plus they come with a 770-watt Meridian surround- sound audio system, 14-way power seats, and remote engine start. All as standard offerings.
Speaking of: When that F-Type engine turns over it sounds like a caged, enraged cat. Pair it with those feline arches and the thing sounds and looks almost as hot as its predecessor. It drives like an animal—and not exactly the wooly variety.
Our recommendations for 2015, by type:
Coupe: Rolls-Royce Wraith
This huge and incredibly athletic coupe, named after a previous 1938 model, has a downright aristocratic profile with a long front hood and erect windshield. The effect simulates those handsome blue-blood faces carved into Victorian-era ivory cameos. Options like exotic woods, bespoke leather, lambswool floor mats and champagne coolers are just the start of what it offers, for the right price. $320,000