AutoZine 20
15 Surprises in 1997-2017

1. Aston Martin Cygnet (2011)

Before Ferrari builds a pickup, this must be the most surprising car in the industry. No, Aston did not design or build it, but to revamp a Toyota iQ as Aston Martin is already absurd enough.

2. Alfa Romeo 8C (2007)

Alfa Romeo had not build a sports car for 4 decades (the last was Montreal). The 8C was built on Maserati GranTurismo platform and fitted with Ferrari V8. Needless to say, it exceeded the standards of Alfa Romeo everyway, and was so far detached from the rest of Alfa range.

3. Alfa Romeo 4C (2013)

Could you imagine Alfa to build a Lotus Elise-style flyweight mid-engined sports car? No one could. Neither anyone could predict a carbon-fiber chassis at this price level.

4. Audi R8 (2007)

Audi was on the rise in the past 2 decades, but what really lifted it beyond BMW and Mercedes was the R8, the first German mid-engined high-end sports car. It was surprisingly beautiful and well engineered, too.

5. BMW i3 (2013)

An electric BMW might not be too surprising, but one looks this and constructed with lightweight carbon-fiber upper chassis and aluminum lower chassis is definitely so. The i3 is the most radical and innovative BMW we have ever seen.

6. Bristol Fighter (2004)

Bristol had always stayed 1960s, but the Fighter - whose development was funded and driven by new investor Toby Silverton - broke the mould with a slippery shape and Dodge Viper-based underpinnings. It was claimed to top 210mph. What was Bristol? We were puzzled.

7. Bugatti Veyron (2005)

Ferdinand Piech had achieved everything as the boss of Volkswagen, but he still had one personal ambition to fulfill - to build the world's fastest and best supercar. He acquired Bugatti brand and poured countless of money for the dream. The resultant Veyron easily broke the record of McLaren F1 while combining luxury and ease of driving. 253 mph is not necessarily fearsome.

8. Chevrolet Volt (2010)

Emerged from bankruptcy, GM suddenly became a leader in range-extending PHEV technology. The Volt was rebadged and sold as Opel in Europe, not vice versa. No one could have imagined that just a few years ago.

9. Ford GT (2017)

The new GT was developed in secrecy in basement floor. It surprised the world in Detroit show debut. Its aerodynamic design and track performance were also stunning. Open the engine lid, you will be surprised to find a twin-turbo V6 instead of a V8.

10. Koenigsegg (2002)

A swedish car lover drew and engineered his own supercar was already quite incredible. Even more so is that the company succeeded to attract billionaires all over the world to buy its cars, and now it becomes one of the most respected supercar brands.

11. Plymouth Prowler (1997)

The concept cars designed by Chrysler in Tom Gale-era were always stunning. Most notable of which was Plymouth Prowler. This modern hot rod was put into production in 1997, sending shockwaves to car observers.

12. Porsche Panamera (2009)

Well, Cayenne was even more surprising, but a Porsche large luxury car weighing 2 tons and rivalling Mercedes-AMG S-class was equally unpredictable.

13. Smart (1998)

Swatch originated the idea of Smart, no wonder it could be so innovative - e.g. replaceable clothes, color-matching trims, space-saving city car concept and a funky design, i.e. nothing links to Mercedes.

14. Lexus LFA (2009)

A Toyota supercar selling at more than double the price of Ferrari? Could you believe? Lexus LFA realized that, and it delivered the promised performance, handling, thrills and quality.

15. Volkswagen Phaeton (2002)

Not a commercial success, but the Volkswagen luxury limousine did surprise us by its high-standard of engineering and build quality. You could hardly recognized it as a VW.

Copyright© 1997-2017 by Mark Wan @ AutoZine