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The 2023 Soul Car Of The Year Awards

Welcome to the final story of 2023. It’s been an adventure, and it culminates here – the Soul Car of the Year. Last year’s winner was the wonderful Cadillac Blackwing CT5-V, and I’ve got a few surprises in store. First, some maths… I tested 30 different cars from five different countries Combined, those cars feature…


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Welcome to the final story of 2023. It’s been an adventure, and it culminates here – the Soul Car of the Year. Last year’s winner was the wonderful Cadillac Blackwing CT5-V, and I’ve got a few surprises in store. First, some maths…

  • I tested 30 different cars from five different countries
  • Combined, those cars feature MSRPs of over $2.9 million dollars
  • All together, their engines and batteries produce nearly 14,000 horsepower

The Soul Car of the Year is my award for the cars I believe make a true connection with its driver. Far beyond just plain performance numbers on some data sheet, my Soul Scores seek to give you an idea of what the car is actually like to live with and experience.

This year, we have categories for SUV, BMW, and general car (the best of the best). Ready? Set…

Soul SUV & Truck of the Year: 2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT

The Cayenne Turbo GT

Runner up: Land Rover Range Rover

Read the Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT review

The days of SUVs sort of lumbering down the road like a big Brontosaurus have been over for about a decade, but for those of us that grew up in the 90s ans 2000s, it’s a hard reputation to shake. Remember looking up at the sun visor to see that decal warning you about rolling over?

To combat the height and size disadvantage, auto makers turn to adding suspensions stiff enough to support the George Washington Bridge, and engines big enough to drain the tank in under 200 miles. These are supposed to be fun, right – not used as an alternative to water boarding?

Not this Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT though. It has the same reflexes as a GT4, simply scaled up. Naturally, it’s brutally fast but always composed, unlike a G63 AMG. Steering, brakes – everything is sports car precise, never making an excuse for its SUV dimensions. And it’s comfortable too. You might not feel refreshed upon arrival, but that’s because you’ll be sweaty from all those hairpins.

Of course you wouldn’t want to take it off-road, one thing the G-Wagon does quite well. Maybe the Range Rover is a happy compromise. These super sporty SUVs never make much sense, and you do not need this much speed every day in an SUV.

But you do want it.

BMW Soul Car of the Year: 2023 BMW Alpina B8 Gran Coupe

Alpina B8
The BMW Alpina B8 Gran Coupe

Runner up: BMW M2 Coupe

Read the Alpina B8 Gran Coupe review

Does BMW still make the Ultimate Driving Machine? No – Porsche and Chevrolet do. It’s not really pining for the old days, I like my M3 just fine. It’s more “Why can’t they do it like those guys are now?”, because I know BMW has it in them. And the Alpina B8 is proof.

I can’t hand this car over to my father and expect him to know why it’s so good – to him, no doubt it’ll just be a green BMW with fancy wheels. The specialness is not obvious, and that’s what makes the B8…well, special.

Here’s steering that produces feedback with appropriate heft, and an engine that’s powerful but mature in the way it delivers the experience. I’ve never felt the N63 V-8 like this before, nor any other V-8 for that matter. It smells like a leather factory inside, and the details throughout are meant for the connoisseur. That’s not the way of the M, which is always yelling in your face that it’s fast, and you’re driving it too slowly you dummy.

The B8 is not perfect, especially the bits that Alpina forgot to touch, but even at this elevated price, I’d skip over any Mercedes, Aston Martin, or Land Rover.

The depreciation on these is real. Don’t try to talk me out of one in a few years.

Soul Car of the Year Runner Up: 2023 Porsche 718 GT4

Porsche 718 GT4
The Porsche 718 GT4

Read the Porsche 718 GT4 review

I hope you’re sitting down, because I’m going to tell you a secret that you may not like. I’ve always preferred the Boxster and Cayman to the 911. This isn’t the 911’s fault, but more to do with just how good the mid-engine models have become.

In this 718, you get a naturally aspirated engine in the proper place, bolted to the best manual transmission I’ve ever driven. The sounds it produces, the steering feel, even the austere but functional cabin – nothing is here to take away from what is nearly a spiritual experience. A 911 Turbo is faster, and a 911 GT3 more coveted, but you can’t exploit those cars on public roads like you can a GT4 and still hope to keep your license. They are garage ornaments and car show queens.

Want one? Oh, it’s already too late. Porsche has discontinued it. Maybe that’s a knock against it – what fun is it if you can’t buy your dream car? Shame on you Porsche, for making us wait, or upcharging, or whatever else it is that lines your pockets.

But they are right – I still want one despite all that.

I will admit, the GT4 was going to be “the” car this year, but it was beaten at the buzzer…

Soul Car of the Year: 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

Corvette Z06
The Chevrolet Corvette Z06

Read the Corvette Z06 review

For the second year in a row, a GM product has stolen the show. It wasn’t always the case, but now I must tell you that now they make some of the best cars in the world.

In the Z06, Chevy grabbed an already excellent regular Corvette and said “Not good enough”, then took no shortcuts on the way to making a truly special car. The engine has been in development since 2014, where it started out as a racing motor adapted for street use, not the other way around like all those German cars. A redline of 8,600 RPM, without forced induction, makes this a unique experience in 2023.

But it’s more than a motor – the Z06 handles like a 718 that’s been hanging out with The Rock. Always planted and extremely precise, but also brutish and fierce. It demands respect, and takes courage to drive it at 10/10ths. All the controls are linear and immediate, from the steering to the shifting.

And yet, you can cruise in comfort just as easily. Your significant other might raise an eyebrow upon startup, but once zooming down the highway they’ll be none the wiser. You mean we don’t need skull-crushing suspensions to make a car handle well? Hell, it even has a removable roof for beach days.

This is no Porsche. It’s faster than anything save a GT2. The performance is incredible. And the price? A bargain. Why would you pick an M4 CSL over this?

Chevrolet puts little rockets as Easter eggs throughout the motor (a nod to NASA), and that’s the sort of detail only the owner is meant to find. It’s the difference between a car built for attention, and one built for you to experience and enjoy.

Congratulations to the Chevrolet Corvette Z06. May cars like this be available forever.

Corvette Z06
My Soul Car Of The Year.

Thank you

If I’ve shot with you, thank you.

I wanted to take the time to thank the people whom have helped the site grow by over 300% this year.


Special thanks to Larry and Jordan at AMMO NYC, Dan at Turn 7 Auto Care, Tyler and the crew at TySpeed, Joe, Mike, Elvis and the crew at J&B BodyWorks, and Chris at AutoWorks NJ for allowing me to hang out for multiple days and film the amazing work you do. You’ve all had a hand bringing my M3 to life, and the joy is real.

Thanks also to André for helping to put word to code, Kyle for being the wheel man at the Fall Cruise, and agency partner RITTA.


Thank you to Pierre and Eric at NAVS for providing beautiful press cars and making it all flow so easily. And thank you to everyone who’s shared their amazing rides with me for reviews – this site isn’t possible without you. It takes time (and trust) to make it work, and I hope I’ve done your car justice.

Thank you also to everyone who has written me emails with questions, sent kind words, or simply asked why the BMW XM rides poorly. Your participation is always welcome.

To my wife Corryn, who continues to allow me to have a ridiculously random schedule and comes with me at O’Dark Thirty to drive insane cars in sketchy places, I couldn’t have come this far without you. And to Madison – Daddy (or dad, when did that happen?) wouldn’t want any other co-pilot every morning on the way to school.

Finally, if you’re reading this site for the first time or the hundredth, thank you very much.

I’ve come really far, and have even farther to go. Here’s to the journey. See you in ’24.

See you next year!

Want your car reviewed?

If you live in the tri-state area and want me to check it out, send me an email! 

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I use Nikon camera bodies and lenses, a Westcott Ice Light 2, Manfrotto tripod, B + W filters and an iMac Pro to make the art you see here.

Follow along on Instagram @machineswithsouls

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