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The Winners For Luxury Cars Of 2016
Good news for carmakers: Auto sales will end 2016 on a strong note. And car sales in 2018-19 are likely to rise thanks to tax cuts and infrastructure policies anticipated for 2017, IHS Markit analysts told reporters Tuesday on a yearend recap and forecasting call.

“We have seen that the overall global economic outlook has somewhat improved over what we had a few months ago,” said Guido Vildozo, a senior manager at IHS Automotive, an auto industry analysis firm. “We are probably going to pick up steam over the next few years, primarily driven by the U.S. economy under President-elect Trump.”
In fact, U.S. car sales are on pace to hit 17.3 million units for 2016, and that number could reach 17.5 million. If that happens, it will be a record sales year, Vildozo said. Which makes sense—automakers have given us plenty to be grateful for in 2016, from new luxury SUVs and turbo-boosted supercars to bold convertibles and throwback racers. What’s more, as gas prices remain stable and even decline, it feeds directly into the thirst for light trucks like crossovers and SUVs.

“We expect a very strong finish for 2016,” Mark Fulthorpe, the director of IHS Automotive, said as he concluded the call.

As for me, I drove a different car every week in 2016, plus a few extras thrown in for good measure. Some I loved. Others I couldn’t wait to escape. But it’s more fun to focus on the most beautiful, thrilling, and intriguing ones than on the losers. So here are my 12 favorites.
The Sexiest Drop-Top: Lamborghini Huracán Spyder

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This is the year Lamborghini turned a corner. Mark my words: Effects from the cars and executive decisions it made in 2016 will be felt for decades to come. The Huracán Spyder embodies the change in mood. Some have criticized it as Lamborghini gone soft, both in styling and in driving character, but I see it as a thoroughly modern car (finally) from the Bologna brand. (The guys who criticize its driving capabilities typically are dilettantes or those who haven’t actually driven it yet.)

The Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4 Spyder is the drop-top version of the excellent coupe we saw last year. Rather than making the car heavy or burdensome around corners, a common problem of convertibles, the alteration comes only as an improvement. The suggested retail price starts at $262,350; delivery and fees bring the number to $267,545, roughly on par with competitors from Ferrari and Aston Martin, and a bump more than the $238,500 coupe version. The Huracán Spyder has the same V10 602-horsepower engine as the hardtop, plus all-wheel drive on a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. (There is no manual option.) You can choose among three drive modes, plus launch control.
The Best to Impress: Bentley Flying Spur S

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I drove the new Flying Spur V8 S for a long weekend in upstate New York this fall, and I loved it. At the time, I wrote that it was a phenomenal driving sedan, plush inside like a British club room, and on the outside a little less square than the Rolls-Royce equivalent, the Ghost. It comes in two varieties: the $244,600 Flying Spur W12 S (626 brake horsepower and 605 pound-feet of torque) or the $205,000 Flying Spur V8 S (521 hp and 502 pound-feet of torque). Both are smooth, fast, and massively powerful on the road, outfitted with quilted leather, elite technology, and all the accessories of wealth you would want in the interior. Driving this supreme machine is a true joy. The only thing it’s missing? A USB outlet. Look for Bentley to introduce one with the next generation.
The Best for Surgical Precision: McLaren 570GT

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There’s a reason McLaren is having such an exceptional year. Sales during the first half of 2016 were up 81 percent from a year earlier, and the company had passed all of its 2015 sales numbers by July. It also recently sold its 10,000th vehicle ever. “It took us 42 months to build our 5,000th car and just 22 months to build the next 5,000,” McLaren Automotive Chief Executive Officer Mike Flewitt said in a statement about the accomplishment for the company, which started making production cars in 2011. “Much of that development is thanks to the introduction of the Sports Series family of cars.”

The Sports Series includes the exemplary 570GT I drove this summer in Big Sur. This is the car with the gorgeous glass hatch that stretches from windshield to taillight and is enough to make you want to lie back and count stars, I wrote at the time. It’s basically perfect: McLaren’s 570GT comes with a 562-horsepower, 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 engine that will hit 62 mph in 3.4 seconds. The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and rear-wheel drive act together with the synchronicity of a symphony.
The Best Convertible for Wide Open Spaces: Rolls-Royce Dawn

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I’ll admit it. I wasn’t crazy about the (lack of) curves on this expensive Dawn convertible for four when I first saw it last year as a preproduction prototype. But the reason Rolls-Royce is so good is that it compels adulation the moment you drive, feel, smell, put on the car. One hour in it tooling up Highway 1 made me convert: “At $339,850, it has space for four, a generous trunk, a silky-smooth transmission, and enough Canadel paneling to outfit a yacht,” I wrote. “Top speed is 155 miles per hour, and the 6.6-liter V12 engine will hit 62 mph in a respectable 4.9 seconds. With the roof up, the cabin is cocooned in quiet and security; the massive brakes are firm like a vise. With the top down, you feel free. Forget gliding—you’re going to fly.” All this was true, and more.

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