Robb Report Australia


Ten cutting-edge cars from 2016

Automotive historians may one day look back on this year with wonder as high-performance luxury marques were prolific in their release of new vehicles that challenged both boundaries and convention.

From the most powerful production model in history to a contemporary take on a bygone beauty, here are 10 cutting-edge cars that may well steer the industry's future — and each a marvellous machine from 2016.

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Bugatti Chiron

Announced back in February, the Bugatti Chiron is not only the fastest and highest-powered production sports car in history, but also one of the most refined rockets ever released.

Sharing its name with both the fabled Formula 1 racer Louis Chiron and a mythological centaur of singular strength and sophistication — the captivating coupe is already worthy of legend. And fact may indeed be stranger than fiction, as the course-crusher carries a cyclonic 1118kW (another production first) and a top speed of 420km/h.

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Unprecedented performance is provided by the marque's innovative new 8.0-litre W-16 engine (with output bolstered by 25 per cent over previous editions) fit with four, two-stage turbochargers and capable of a titanic 1600Nm of torque.

Also part of the power train is a new titanium exhaust system and six catalytic converters with an active surface area that could cover 30 soccer fields. The entire engineering epiphany, tamed by a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox and all-wheel-drive differential, enables Chiron to shoot from zero to 100km/h in under 2.5 seconds.

The visionary vehicle's cutting-edge construction and aerodynamic design is also a key to its velocity. The carbon-fibre monocoque body minimises weight while maximising rigidity.

The ultra-lightweight (but monstrously strong) material is so pervasive in the car's composition that if the fibres were laid end to end they would traverse the distance between Earth and the moon — nine times.

Limited to 500 examples and with one-third of the orders already accounted for, the chimeric Chiron was slated to launch in September. (

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Lamborghini Centenario

The Lamborghini Centenario boasts the most powerful engine the marque has ever made — a befitting celebration of what would have been Ferruccio Lamborghini's 100th birthday this year.

The commemorative Lambo makes the sprint from zero to 100km/h in 2.8 seconds, and a naturally aspirated, 575kW V12 engine allows the Centenario to barrel up to 350km/h. At these speeds, braking needs to be equally aggressive, and the racer reaches a full stop from 100km/h in just 30 metres.

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The car's completely carbon-fibre monocoque construction is complemented by aerodynamic accoutrements such as oversized air scoops in the hood (to increase downforce on the front axle) and finned inlets in the front and rear of the vehicle.

The built-in rear diffuser also maximises downforce (giving the supercar enhanced grip and speed through turns) and combines with the exaggerated wheel arches to give the Centenario its singular visual signature.

The all-wheel-drive dynamo also delivers precise handling, thanks to Lamborghini's cryptically coined magneto rheological suspension and the Independent Shifting Rod (ISR) gearbox, which works in conjunction with the brand's new rear-wheel steering.

The latter is responsible for turning the specifically developed Pirelli P Zero tyres in the opposite direction of the steering angle when operating at low speeds. The result is an effective shortening of the wheelbase for enhanced cornering capability.

At high speeds, the same system syncs the rear tires with the steering angle to increase the level of stability and responsiveness to that of a car with a longer wheelbase.

Certainly a Lamborghini to long for, only 20 coupes and 20 roadsters have been produced, and each already purchased. (

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LaFerrari Aperta

Unable to keep a lid on it, Ferrari announced in July that it would be producing a limited-edition LaFerrari Aperta — a roadster version of the Prancing Horse hybrid.

The convertible, available with a removable carbon-fibre hard top and soft top, has undergone substantial chassis modification and aerodynamic detailing in order to maintain the same structural integrity, handling characteristics, and drag coefficient as the coupe.

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There is also parity with the power train, as the car comes with the same setup as its closed-top sibling. Its 588kW V12 engine is harnessed to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and complemented by a 120kW electric motor. The total of 950 horses allows it to run from zero to 100km/h in less than 3 seconds and reach 350km/h.

The topless LaFerrari debuted at the Paris Motor Show in October. But as expected, all of the 200 examples available to the public have already been pre-sold after an exclusive preview for invited collectors. (

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Porsche 911 R

Drivers passionate about power and performance will lust after the limited-edition Porsche 911 R. The lightest version of the line in production, the 1370-kilogram coupe carries design DNA from the marque's 1967 homologation racer paired with today's cutting-edge componentry.

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Responsible for the weight reduction is the same chassis as the competition-focused 911 GT3, as well as Carrera-like bodywork that capitalises on carbon fibre for the hood and wings, and magnesium for the roof.

Aerodynamic elements include a retractable rear spoiler (as opposed to the GT3's fixed wing), a rear underbody diffuser, and a redesigned front spoiler lip. Also distinctive is the titanium sports exhaust system that sits as a centrepiece at the back.

The stance is made striking by ultra-high-performance tyres riding on 50cm featherweight wheels. And to elevate the overall appearance even further, an optional lift system (push-button activated) will increase ground clearance at the front by over 2.5cm.

As the R stands for "racing," the new 911 variant packs a naturally aspirated 6-cylinder flat engine boasting 372kW and 459Nm of torque. Utilising a 6-speed sports transmission, the car covers zero to 100km/h in 3.7 seconds and tops out at 321km/h.

To ensure responsive handling and precision shifting, the vehicle takes advantage of a customised version of the Porsche Stability Management (PSM) system and a double-clutch feature (also push-button activated), respectively.

Within the cabin, the driver is enveloped by a carbon-fibre full bucket seat fronted by a race-specific GT sport steering wheel. The interior trim presents carbon accents and aluminium badging along with a Pepita tartan fabric treatment that references predecessors from the Sixties.

Revealed at the 2016 Geneva International Motor Show in March, only 991 examples of the Porsche 911 R will be produced. (

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Jaguar F-Type SVR

Fast and nimble, the new Jaguar F-Type SVR is the most cat-like coupe and convertible in the F-Type lineup. Clawing under the hood is a 428kW, 5.0-litre V8 leashed with a twin vortex supercharger to reduce engine drag.

Mated with a custom-calibrated 8-speed automatic transmission, the predacious powertrain allows the car to pounce from zero to 100km/h in 3.5 seconds and chase up to 321km/h (313km/h for the roadster).

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Agility and control comes from the marque's Intelligent Driveline Dynamics and Electronic Active Differential systems that bolster the suspension's response. And the SVR's reflexes can be further heightened by the optional Carbon Ceramic Matrix Braking system — the most powerful and responsive deceleration.

The all-wheel-drive sportster features a lightweight aluminium body and a selection of three roof types — aluminium, panoramic glass, or carbon fibre. Weight is also shed with the titanium and Inconel exhaust system, as well as the 50cm forged-alloy wheels that are a total of 13.6kg lighter than any other in the model range.

Already a sleek and lean machine, the vehicle also benefits from enhanced airflow detailing that includes intakes in the front bumper, retracting door handles, a front splitter, and a rear valance. In addition, the carbon-fibre rear spoiler raises automatically once a speed of 114km/h is reached and counteracts lift by up to 119 kilograms.

Creature comforts in the highly customisable cabin include quilted performance seats, electrically assisted steering, several available trim packages, and comprehensive connectivity.

It's the first series production Jaguar to come from the marque's Special Vehicle Operations division and carry SVR badging. (

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Effeffe Berlinetta

The golden age of automotive design has been reborn with the debut of the Effeffe Berlinetta by Officine Fratelli Frigerio — a gran turismo reflective of the finest Alfa Romeos and Ferraris of the late 1950s, but built today.

Perfect for the modern gentleman racer, the classically styled coupe was fashioned in form and function after models that made motorsport history in such renowned races as the Mille Miglia, Carrera Panamericana, and Targa Florio, but could also be delightful daily drivers.

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Created by Italian brothers Leonardo and Vittorio Frigerio and their team, the beautiful rear-wheel-drive berlinetta pairs the best of past and present, with computer-aided design followed by hand-built execution.

The result is a welded tubular steel chassis and hand-hammered aluminium body that renders a dry weight of only 790 kilograms. Housed inside is a 126kW, twin-overhead-camshaft Alfa Romero engine designed to the specifications of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) Group 2 category for the European Touring Car Championship series in 1969.

Translating power is a synchronized 5-speed gearbox, and the ride is refined by independent wishbone suspension in the front, along with rigid-axle suspension at the rear.

The artisanal approach is carried over into the hand-stitched leather interior with customisable cover selections for the dash, door panels, and luggage compartment. Colour is equally optional, down to the matching wool carpets for the floorboards.

Customers of the boutique marque can also customise the handling characteristics of their car through a circuit test-drive, as well as improve their own skills during a dedicated track tutorial. And included in the vintage-looking vehicle's price tag is a personalised luggage set and golf bag — how sporting. (

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Bentley Flying Spur W12 S

A posh sedan with plenty of power and performance, the Bentley Flying Spur W12 S is the marque's fastest four-door to date.

The tuned-up tourer carries a 6-litre, twin-turbo W12 engine that has now been boosted to 466kW. With the pumped-up power train, the new edition can take off at a rate of zero to 100km/h in 4.2 seconds before topping out at 325km/h.

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The infusion of sports-car characteristics continues with a more responsive suspension system, an all-wheel-drive differential (with a rear-biased torque ratio of 40:60), improved damper and stability measures, and the option of carbon-ceramic brakes — elements incorporated to enhance traction and control while still pampering passengers.

The souped-up sedan has also been given stylistic muscle to match. Exterior embellishments include gloss-black treatments for much of the exterior and select elements from the marque's Beluga trim package. And the prominent rear haunches are accentuated by gloss-black 21-inchm, 7-spoke alloy wheels (or an optional 21-inch, 5-spoke version) for a stance nothing short of striking.

The interior is equally dramatic with ubiquitous black for the fascia and panelling (also available in a carbon-fibre finish) as well as the diamond-quilted leather upholstery (accented in a choice of 17 colours).

Offered as standard features are the three-spoke Sport Plus steering wheel, knurled gearshift paddles, and headrests and tread-plates with "W12 S" branded on both.

Though the driving experience is not one to be missed, those in the backseat will benefit from a touchscreen infotainment system housed within the rear centre console.

The push-button-activated accessory also provides climate control and Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity on demand. Delivery of the Flying Spur W12 S will begin by the end of this year. (

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Aston Martin DB11

While as bold and beautiful as its automotive antecedent from the blockbuster film Spectre, the new Aston Martin DB11 packs more heat.

Debuted at the Geneva International Motor Show, it is the most powerful DB model ever made, as well as the first release from the British marque's second century of operation. And though its name follows a familiar format, the car itself takes some daringly unexpected turns.

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Representing Aston Martin's template for tomorrow, the captivating GT coupe has an impressive new heart under the hood — a twin-turbocharged, 5.2-litre V12 engine that was designed in-house. Ready to charge with 453kW, bridled by an 8-speed automatic ZF transmission, the DB11 races from zero to 100km/h in 3.9 seconds and reaches a top speed of 321km/h.

Enhanced performance is also provided by a new bonded, Hot Form Quenched (HFQ) aluminium body; improved suspension with adaptive damping; a torque vectoring brake system paired with launch control; and advanced electric power steering.

The relationship between these engineering elements is fine-tuned by three dynamic driving modes (GT, Sport, and Sport Plus) for maximum responsiveness based on the desired handling experience.

Inside the refined ride is a 30cm, thin-film transistor (TFT) liquid-crystal instrumentation display, created in partnership with Daimler. Another 20cm TFT screen for infotainment (that can be operated by gesture through an optional touchpad) also accesses the autonomous parking and 360-degree camera functions.

An addition to the abundance of amenities is the luxury of space in the form of wider door openings, heightened head clearance, and increased legroom. And the back has been bolstered with integrated ISOFIX mounts enabling multiple car seats for kids — perfect for when Bond becomes a family man. (

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Fisker Force 1

When VLF Automotive's Fisker Force 1 debuted in January at the 2016 North American International Auto Show, it not only marked the beginning of a new innovative force in the industry, but the rebirth of the American supercar.

A comprehensive conversion of the Dodge Viper, the 555kW muscle machine carries an 8.4-litre V10 engine, can roar from zero to 100lm/h in 3 seconds, and has a top speed of 350km/h.

The collaborative dream of famed designer Henrik Fisker and renowned race car driver Ben Keating, the vehicle is both an unapologetic tribute to its powerhouse predecessors and a daring new direction for the current market.

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"The Force 1 is well-behaved without losing any of that all-American muscle-car feel that we believe buyers want," explains Keating. "What we are building is as crazy as the original Viper was back in 1994 or the Shelby Cobra in the early '60s. To strap a 427 V8 engine into a little bitty aluminium body was just insane back then — and that is the kind of machine we have now with the Force 1."

When asked about his experience with the development process, Fisker was emphatic. "There was nothing holding me back in designing this car, no outside influence trying to water it down, which is what made it so fun to work on and why I think it will stand out. When this car is seen in the rearview mirror, other motorists will get out of the way."

Production of the Fisker Force 1 began in April with plans for only 50 examples. (

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McLaren Carbon Series 675LT Spider

Announced in June, the McLaren Special Operations (MSO) Carbon Series 675LT Spider takes "light and fast" to the next level.

Based off of the limited-edition 675LT Spider (McLaren's fastest roadster to date) that debuted in December, the new variant features a body completely covered with a gloss carbon-fibre application.

The decision to use 40 per cent more of the material than on the original model is due to the popularity of the carbon-fibre McLaren P1 showcased at the Geneva International Motor Show in March.

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The composite convertible reflects the marque's "longtail" design made famous by its F1 GTR racecar that took second and third place at Le Mans in 1997. Both componentry and aerodynamic aesthetics will incorporate carbon fibre, including the front bumper (with enlarged splitter) and rear fender, front underbody, side skirts and intakes, diffuser, "longtail" airbrake, and electronically retractable roof and tonneau.

Giving more power per kilogram is a 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 engine unleashing 496kW. And to ensure that there is no loss in performance and handling when paired with the new body construction, 50 per cent of the power train's parts will be replaced from the standard version.

The result will be the same launch rate (from zero to 100km/h in 2.9 seconds) and top speed (326km/h) as the latter and only a 0.2-second decrease in acceleration compared to the coupe. To help measure the metrics, the McLaren Track Telemetry Pack (with three cameras) will also come with the car.

Only 25 examples will be produced with first deliveries planned for the end of the year. But as quick as the new MSO Carbon Series 675LT Spider promises to be, demand has it beat, as each one has already been presold. (

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