I can say with some confidence, 2016 was one of the weirdest years I’ve lived through.
The Brits chose Brexit; the Yanks elected Trump; political idiocy was rife here in South Africa … and then came the news that our two closest magazine competitors – Top Gear SA and TopCar – had closed. Add to that the twin concepts of autonomous driving and the electric car all but dominating global thinking round the future of the car, and suddenly it feels as if I’ve stepped into a parallel, and very bizarre, universe. Fear not, I won’t indulge in any political analysis or talk about those two competitors, save to say we motoring journalists are a close-knit bunch and the titles closing is a dark day for us all. To those friends and peers, we send strength, offer solidarity and sincerely hope there are publishers who do see worth in your obvious talents.
At least I’m more familiar with what it means for internal-combustion engines, and the answer lies in the 35 pages of the Performance Shootout 2017 feature in this issue. Yes, the future of the car will involve autonomous driving, current powertrains will be distant memories, and the concept of personal mobility will replace the notion of an automobile. But, trust me.
Unless you fundamentally alter our DNA, humans will always want adrenaline-inducing performance transportation, and they will want the power to control it. For some journeys, we may hand over the reins to the vehicle’s computer, but I’m pretty sure most of my descendants will often take the wheel, too.
Strange days, indeed. But, for the moment at least, we still have fast Porsches, Mustangs, Nissans, BMWs, McLarens, Mercedes-Benzes, Jaguars, Audis and Volvos … and even Smarts.