Barry Green's top five cars of 2019

RACQ’s Motoring Editor reveals his favourite cars of the past year.

Fresh of the heels of the 2019 Australia’s Best Car awards, RACQ Motoring Editor Barry Green has broken down his top five cars for 2019.
 
Known as ‘The Stig’ around the RACQ office, Barry, drove hundreds of cars from coupes to SUVs throughout 2019, but these five left their mark and stuck with him long after he handed back the keys. 

Alpine A110 Premiere

“I’d longed to drive the modern incarnation of the original A110 that claimed the first World Rally Championship title in 1973 from the time it broke cover,” Barry said.
 
“Recently, the planets aligned, and the Alpine proved every bit as good as I dared hope.
 
“Though well-endowed at 185kW and 320Nm, it’s not as powerful as a Porsche 718 Cayman and, at 1094kg, nicely trim but not as light as a Lotus Elise Cup 250.
 
“Yet such is the all-round balance and handling dynamism that it’s close to the ultimate driver’s car. No question.”

Alpine A110

BMW Z4 M40i

Barry said the BMW Z4 M40i was the type of engaging drive only a brilliant, inline ‘bee-Em’ six can deliver.
 
“Agility, traction and grip levels have gone up a notch, thanks to a shorter (-20cm) wheelbase and wider track, M4-derived rubber, M-developed brakes and rear e-diff,” he said.
 
“Adaptive damping brings not just sharper turn-in for when you want to heighten the M40i’s sensitivities, but the ability to calm the car down when the road surface turns from hot mix to coarse chip.”

BMW Z4

Nissan GT-R 50th Anniversary Edition

Motoring enthusiasts eagerly awaited the 50th-anniversary edition of the GTR which featured a paint scheme paying homage to Datsun’s race designs from the 1971 Japan Grand Prix.
 
“Cool striped livery aside, the thing that resonated for me was the birthday boy’s improved ride quality,” Barry said.
 
“Nissan’s suspension tweaks also worked a treat, making the GT-R way more agreeable to live with off the track.
 
“And the best thing is, the civility has come with no trade-off in what makes it so great – a virtual race car with numberplates.”

Nissan GT-R 50

Toyota 86 GTS Performance Pack

The Toyota 86 stole the hearts of thousands of consumers when released in Australia in 2012. The 86 quickly became one of the most popular and affordable coupes - but has long been plagued by reports that it was underpowered. The Toyota 86 GTS Performance Pack changed all that.
 
“Even in its most basic specification, the 86 is a highly enjoyable, exploitable drive,” Barry said.
 
“It doesn’t really need a Performance Pack, but conversely the addition of one does not in any way diminish the experience.
 
“Stronger brakes, sport dampers and a bigger wheel/tyre package offer a dynamic bundle that few would refuse.
 
“Turn-in is precise and linear and the GTS corners flat and devoid of body roll, while Brembo braking endurance underwrites the aforesaid handling capabilities.”
 
Read the full review of the Toyota 86 GTS Performance Pack in the 2019 June/July edition of The Road Ahead.

Toyota 86

Joyner Python 800

The Joyner Python 800 was a unique drive for Barry who travelled to Greece just for a chance to get behind the wheel.
 
“The little rig you see depicted is an off-road buggy, an American-made Joyner with a Chinese-made Chery 800cc triple-cylinder engine,” he said.
 
“Something like this is road-legal in Greece, so I couldn’t resist zipping around the island of Rhodes in one.
 
“With no windscreen and little by way of bodywork, it makes for a driving experience as close to that of a motorcycle as you will get - Just pick the right day, weather-wise.”
 
For John Ewing’s top five cars of 2018, click here.

Joyner Python