Aston Martin Vantage
This is a tough one to pick as I am preferential to cars that offer a blend of performance with understated appearances, like the Audi RS7 or the BMW M5. However, if I had to pick which was the best looking car launched in India in 2018, I’d give my vote to the new Aston Martin Vantage. The iconic sports car got a complete revamp as part of Aston’s 2022 model plans and looks different to the GT cars in the lineup. That massive front grille with a hint of the Vulcan, the sleek new headlamps, the rear LED strip along the boot-lid spoiler which is mirrored in design by the large rear diffuser, all adds up to a visual treat. It has the performance to match those sporty looks and wide muscular arches, but that’s not what this list is about. It is currently sold in India with a price tag of Rs 2.95 crore (ex-showroom).
There are two things that fascinate me about the Rolls-Royce Phantom: grandeur and continuity in design. One may argue that the new generation Phantom doesn’t bring anything new to the table as far as its design is concerned, but this virtue of being timeless is a win for its design in my books. This design has looked contemporary in the past, it looks contemporary today and it will look contemporary in the future as well. And because I won’t be able to nominate it as the best looking new car for years to come, I won’t let this opportunity slip away from my hand now. Price? Who cares?
Although I am not someone who loves SUVs, Volvo’s latest offering, the XC40, got me hooked right from when it debuted back in September 2017. What attracted me the most is how it blends an old-school SUV design with a modern flavour. Unlike its rivals, the XC40 features a boxy silhouette along with other SUV elements like a high set nose and loads of body cladding all around. The floating roof, concave front grille, and Thor headlamps do enough to make the SUV look modern. It’s not only the looks, but the XC40 also packs some serious tech that can put some more expensive cars in this list to shame. But we are not here to talk about it. Volvo is currently offering the XC40 in two variants - Momentum and Inscription, which are priced from Rs 39.90 lakh to Rs 43.90 lakh (ex-showroom pan-India).
It's only human to want something that’s difficult to attain and eludes you on every step of your life. That is why my pick is the Mercedes-AMG G63, the German brute which only recently received its third update despite being nearly 40 years old. Apart from its eye-watering price tag of Rs 2.19 crores, it is the large, muscular proportions that starkly contrast my innocuous ‘Slim Jim’ appearance. Now, the G63 might look like a vault from the past but it still manages to dwarf over newer SUVs in terms of street cred. In fact, it’s a timeless piece of machinery. Even the music from the side-mounted dual chamber exhausts is as raw as an iron hitting the anvil thanks to my favorite engine configuration- V8, which is not naturally aspirated but twin-turbocharged! There’s a reason it's called the G-Wagen. To me, the G stands for ‘Gangster’!
A Lamborghini SUV? It feels like an abomination at first. The Italian supercar manufacturer is not used to making cars on stilts, and ideally, any car coming out of Sant’Agata hugs the ground closely. However, when you stop focusing on the SUV part and start looking at the Urus as a Lamborghini is when you realise the Urus is a quintessential Raging Bull in two areas it matters most - design and performance. The Urus’ lines are cutting-edge and streamlined. But don’t mistake that for the fact that the Urus doesn’t have any muscle. It’s built like Usain Bolt - not one bit of extra fat anywhere on the body. And if that doesn’t warm you up to the Urus, you can go on and hit a top speed of 305kmph, which is more than any other production SUV on the planet. There is a reason why Lamborghini calls this a Super Sports Utility Vehicle and that is because it is super practical, super fast and most importantly, looks super-duper awesome.
Maruti Suzuki Swift
While these guys have picked the swankiest, fastest and tarmac shattering machines, I was smitten by a relatively humble Maruti Suzuki Swift. The Swift is one of those cars for which designers will never start from scratch for a new-gen model. That’s because their designs have an emotional connection with people. Suzuki has done a brilliant job in retaining the essence of the previous models yet adding a character of its own to the third-gen model. It is noticeably wider than the second-gen model and sits lower as well, giving a near-perfect squat stance. The interior has an air of minimalism to it and I love those new circular dials with embedded displays for the climate control unit.
It was good to see that the new Swift has gotten the safety aspect sorted with a standard set of features. However, Global NCAP blew the whistle in October 2018 when it crash-tested the India-spec Swift. Despite all the standard safety features, the Swift scored a very poor 2-star rating and sadly, its bodyshell was rated unstable. Surprisingly, the bodyshell of the Euro-spec model, which is also underpinned by the same platform, is rated stable! Now, I’m not as fond as I was earlier for the new Swift. That said, it is still among the most beautiful, comparatively affordable cars you can buy today.