Top 10 Best Car Debuts of 2016

Jason Siu
by Jason Siu

There has never been a better time to be an automotive enthusiast.

While many will choose to remember 2016 as a global dumpster fire, we here at will remember it as a year packed with awesome debuts and new car announcements. Whether you love sports cars or luxury SUVs, 2016 had something for everyone.

SEE ALSO: Auto Show Coverage

Here are our picks for the top 10 best car debuts of 2016.

10. Maserati Levante

It finally happened! The long-rumored Maserati SUV finally made its debut this year at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show. Sporting a fairly aggressive design, the Maserati Levante is powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 engine with either 350 horsepower or 430 hp in the S model. At the car’s debut, the Italian automaker also announced a 275-hp V6 turbo-diesel engine, but it’s unclear if that will make it to the U.S.

Learn more: 5 Things We Learned Driving the 2017 Maserati Levante S

9. Alfa Romeo Stelvio

After impressing the crowd at the 2015 L.A. Auto Show with the Giulia Quadrifoglio, Alfa Romeo followed up its act by unveiling the Stelvio crossover at this year’s L.A. Auto Show. Expected to go on sale sometime next year, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio looks to compete against other luxury SUVs from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. Two powerplants will be offered with the crossover with the base model getting a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 280 hp and 306 lb-ft of torque. And then, of course, there’s the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, packing 505 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque.

Learn more: Alfa Romeo Grows Up, Reveals First Crossover

8. Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

The Mazda MX-5 Miata isn’t exactly new anymore, but this year, the Japanese automaker rolled out the MX-5 Miata RF, short for Retractable Fastback. Mechanically, it has the same specs as the soft-top model, meaning under its hood is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 155 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. The roof can be opened or closed at speeds up to 6 mph, taking about 12 seconds to do the act — and best of all, it’s fully automatic, so you don’t have to mess with any latches.

Learn more: 5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

7. Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Sporting 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque, the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is the hottest American sports car that made its debut in 2016. The supercharged V8 lurking under the hood is the same one found in the Corvette Z06 and Cadillac CTS-V and there’s even a six-speed manual transmission available. Ever since its debut, the Camaro ZL1 has gone on to lap the Nurburgring in 7:29.60, beating the 2015 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R’s time of 7:32.19.

Learn more: 2017 Chevy Camaro ZL1 Arrives with 640 HP Sent Through 10 Gears

6. Lexus LC

The stunning Lexus LC kicked off the year by making its debut at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show, seemingly living up to expectations after the automaker impressed with the LF-LC concept. The LC500 is powered by a 5.0-liter V8 engine with 471 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque, but a hybrid version is also available with a 3.5-liter V6 and dual-motor electric drive to produce a total system output of 354 hp. But no matter which model you choose, the LC is sure to garner plenty of looks with its gorgeous styling.

Learn more: 2018 Lexus LC500 Review

5. BMW M2

The truth is, the BMW M2 was introduced to the world late last year, but it didn’t make its public debut until the 2016 Detroit Auto Show. And for the first time in many years, we felt that BMW finally went back to producing the “Ultimate Driving Machine” with the M2 delivering 365 hp from a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six engine. Although it didn’t go on to win the title of Car of the Year (that went to the Ford Focus RS), we came away thoroughly impressed with the BMW M2 and just how much fun it is to drive.

Learn more: 2016 BMW M2 Review

4. Aston Martin DB11

Some say it’s the best-looking production car Aston Martin has ever produced, and who are we to argue? The Aston Martin DB11 wowed the crowd during this year’s Monterey Car Week as the most powerful DB model ever delivering 600 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque from a new 5.2-liter twin-turbo V12 engine. Yes, you read that correctly. The stunning coupe goes zero to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds and has a top speed of 200 mph. Oh, and if you watch The Grand Tour, that shade is not brown.

Learn more: 2017 Aston Martin DB11 Arrives in the US

3. Honda Civic Type R

Technically, the Honda Civic Type R that made its debut this year is a “prototype.” Whatever, Honda. We would be shocked if anything substantial changes from what we see here to production, so we’re going to consider it a debut. The Honda Civic Type R made its rounds all over the world this year, capping off its tour at the 2016 L.A. Auto Show, where we once again got another up-close look at the car and its interior. It will be the first Civic Type R to ever be sold in the U.S. and it certainly looks like it will live up to expectations.

Learn more: 2018 Honda Civic Type R Prototype Offers First Look at US-Bound Model

2. Lamborghini Centenario

Paying tribute to the 100th birthday of company founder Ferruccio Lamborghini, the Italian automaker unveiled the Centenario at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show and it was already sold out. That was despite the fact that it had a price tag starting around $1.9-million. Limited to 20 coupes and 20 roadster versions, the Centenario is powered by a V12 engine with 770 hp, making it the most powerful engine the company has ever made. It also weighs just 3,351 pounds dry thanks to its carbon fiber monocoque.

Learn more: The $1.9M Lamborghini Centenario Was Just Unveiled and It’s Already Sold Out

1. Bugatti Chiron

What beats a limited edition, $1.9-million Lamborghini? The follow-up to the Bugatti Veyron, of course. After years of speculation and teasers, Bugatti finally rolled out its newest model called the Chiron. And, boy, did it deliver. At the time of its debut, it became the first production car to produce 1,500 hp with an 8.0-liter quad-turbocharged W16 engine. That means the Chiron packs over 300 more ponies than the Veyron with 1,180 lb-ft of torque to boot. The car is absolutely exquisite and it will be limited to just 500 units. So far, the French automaker has only produced and delivered one and that buyer also purchased the Vision Gran Turismo Concept the company created.

Learn more: 8 Mind-Blowing Facts About the New Bugatti Chiron

Jason Siu
Jason Siu

Jason Siu began his career in automotive journalism in 2003 with Modified Magazine, a property previously held by VerticalScope. As the West Coast Editor, he played a pivotal role while also extending his expertise to Modified Luxury & Exotics and Modified Mustangs. Beyond his editorial work, Jason authored two notable Cartech books. His tenure at saw him immersed in the daily news cycle, yet his passion for hands-on evaluation led him to focus on testing and product reviews, offering well-rounded recommendations to AutoGuide readers. Currently, as the Content Director for VerticalScope, Jason spearheads the content strategy for an array of online publications, a role that has him at the helm of ensuring quality and consistency across the board.

More by Jason Siu

Join the conversation