It’s the last day of the year, and so we come to the signature final post to sign off 2017. The sixth edition of the Top Five list continues on that seen in the 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 editions, and as usual, we have the members of the editorial team each picking five cars that impressed them the most out of that sampled throughout the year.

A recap, in case you missed the last five outings. The intent from the start was to see which five cars driven in a particular year had the most impact on each of us, and the idea continues to roll on as such. As defined by the headline, you might find that many of the selections are driven by sentiment and emotion, with no consideration of the things that drive say, a vehicle purchase.

As for the limitation to a selection of five cars, which was set when we first ran with the idea, that isn’t because we have anything against the usual 10 as found on most lists – my original intent of going with half of that number was to encourage the writers to be more challenging in their selection process and in their decisions.

Some changes in authors, as well as Top Five lists from our Bahasa and Chinese teams. In 2017, we welcomed Matthew H. Tong, and his selection kicks off this year’s list. As it was last year, our bike man, Mohan K. Ramanujam, has his own top picks for two-wheelers, and you can read his 2017 Top Five motorcycle picks here.

Here then are the individual picks from the team, what each thought were the cars that got them going in 2017. As always, we hope you enjoy reading our musings. We’d like to wish all our readers a very Happy New Year, and see you in 2018!


2017 has been an absolutely rapid-firing year, crammed with a whole slew of car launches and media test drives on both a local and global scale. In hindsight, it feels like we’ve talked a great deal more on electrification than prior years, of which one deservedly earned its spot in my list of Top Five.

There’s nothing easy in the process of forming this line-up. This wearying predicament befell all makers of this year’s edition once more, so trust me, there’s no shortage of effort with this compilation, and I speak on behalf of all my comrades. The following is arranged in order.

5. B9 Audi A4 2.0 TFSI quattro

While relatively fresh and new to the Malaysian market, the latest Audi A4 is actually over two years old now. But it wasn’t until early this year when we finally received the top 2.0 TFSI quattro variant, seven months after the mid-level 2.0 TFSI was launched last September. Such is the plight of a premium brand bereaved of local assembly operations.

Several things stood out during my brief time with it, particularly in the areas of ride quality and overall refinement. The standard adaptive dampers brought forward some of the best shock absorbing and compression attributes I’ve experienced in the segment, and I dare say that it’s even better than my former favourite, the F30 BMW 3 Series, although really not by much. The Bimmer is that good.

With the enhanced refinement and tier-one interior build quality (and who can forget that flicker-free Audi Virtual Cockpit?), the A4 as a whole remains a worthy adversary to its electrified and incentivised rivals. All that plus the combination of a revvy 2.0 litre turbo and the ever-trusty quattro system merits the A4 a firm spot in this registry.

4. Mercedes-AMG C 43 4Matic Sedan

We now live in an era where almost every mass production Mercedes-Benz car gets its own AMG touch, and boy the kind of wonders these Affalterbach folks do. The AMG guys have a peculiar penchant of leaving their mark too, with signatories etched onto the engine cover.

But no mark is more ostentatious and barbaric than the sound of an AMG exhaust system. I can put the AMG GT S next to a Ferrari 488 GTB (both sporting turbocharged V8s) in an auditory showdown and have the German win purely based on rawness and drama. Save your judgements here – I’ve literally done it before.

As for the case of the C 43, it’s every bit like the W205 C-Class that we’re familiar with, except it steers quicker, drives sharper, corners nimbler, sprints more rapidly and, above all, is just pure aurally intoxicating. Now how much of this exhaust sound is synthesised, I don’t know, but it works for me. The full-fat C 63 amplifies all these traits, but it’s the C 43 that I’ll unhesitatingly pick. Plus, one can drive this just about any day of the week – to work and back, again and again.

3. Honda City Sport Hybrid i-DCD

Besides the Myvi, the Honda hybrids practically stole the show for me this year. As the only market outside of Japan to receive this model, it is a privilege, from an introspective standpoint. It retains all the features that make the model such a huge hit among Malaysian car buyers, and at the same time improves on value by way of extensive mechanical upgrades.

Armed with a 137 PS and 170 Nm hybrid powertrain, the City is suitably potent for a car of its class. Thanks to a quicker steering rack and upgraded dampers all-round, it handles even better (and steadier) than its non-hybrid counterparts. What’s more, it comes with a seven-speed dual-clutch auto with paddle shifters, so keen drivers can swap actual, physical cogs for the first time.

Priced almost identically to the top-spec City V, it’s unfortunately short on the equipment and features side of things, such as LED headlamps and LED fog lamps, just to name a few. These are deliberately omitted due to cost factors, for if without the EEV incentives, the City Hybrid as it is would have cost above RM100k. It’s not quite the perfect package yet, but it is close.

2. Audi R8 V10 Plus Coupé

Sitting at the very top of the four-ringed throne is a car we’ve all seen across multiple silver-screen blockbusters, most prominently piloted by Iron Man himself. Its low-slung, bulbous and brawny sculpture looks entirely fitting in a superhero macrocosm, but if you remove the on-screen grandiosity and dial into the real workings of the actual car, it’s magic.

Aside from the fact that it’s immaculately built inside out, the R8 is most unassuming in the way it drives. If you were to judge the car’s drivability – other than just being ridiculously quick – simply by its outward proportions (which essentially looks like a more proportionate Audi TT), you would’ve severely underrate its competence.

The R8 titillates all faculties of your senses; it looks ravishing, the unblemished leather upholstery feels and smells luxuriant, the V10 mounted behind wails like a hysterical banshee at the 8,500 rpm redline, and as for taste? Well, if you have the might of 610 ponies all to yourself, does freedom count?

1. Porche 718 Cayman GTS

As you can very well tell at this juncture that, from my list of five, I enjoy getting behind the wheel, and everyday at work I count my blessings, no matter where the desk takes me. When I’m out driving, for the most part, I hardly get worked up at all, but the one car that left a profoundly indelible impression throughout 2017, is the Porsche 718 Cayman GTS.

My time with the Cayman was only for the better part of 15 minutes (yes, need I remind you again that the job is not all glazed with glitz and glam?), but the test drive venue was Circuito Ascari, a highly technical 5.4 km-long racetrack with 26 challenging turns. That’s 26 ripe opportunities per lap for me to beach a monstrously powerful (365 hp, 420 Nm) rear-wheel drive sports car, but the Cayman danced through each as though it was paving fresh hot asphalt around the track.

Never mind that it’s two cylinders down, never mind that it’s turbocharged. The 718 Cayman GTS is living proof that Porsche doesn’t cut corners as it strives for change, and Cayman remains every bit as pure an experience of driving a thoroughbred sports car. I know now more than ever, that the one car I must have to my name in this lifetime, is a Cayman. With a limited-slip diff.


The close of the year brings the shortlist of the most memorable automobiles from each of us on the team, and for yours truly 2017’s stand-out experiences are surprisingly varied, with an SUV, a sedan, and a couple of closed-course specials in the mix.

5. Hyundai Tucson 2.0 CRDi

A curious outlier in my Top 5 for reasons about to become clear, the diesel Hyundai Tucson acquitted itself remarkably in the role of a daily runabout. The 2.0 litre diesel powertrain with a generous 178 PS and 400 Nm of torque made light work of overtaking inattentive drivers, while the ride and handling balance is well judged.

The Tucson isn’t one for the point-and-shoot or even particularly assertive styles of driving; however, relax into a rhythm, let the strong diesel work in the meat of its powerband, and there is enjoyment to be had from pedaling this tall family car.

4. Mazda 3 2.0 SkyActiv-G GVC

As a driving experience, the SkyActiv-generation Mazda 3 isn’t the most likely to win over would-be owners who enjoy considerably more comfort-oriented models. In revised, G-Vectoring Control-equipped form, it’s here in my Top Five notably for one driver-oriented revision: a thinner-rimmed steering wheel.

That isn’t to damn it with faint praise, rather quite the contrary as I’ve found the pre-facelift Mazda 3 to be plenty likeable as it was; there is in fact a hatchback in the household. That new steering wheel adds some feel to the already confidence-inspiring helm from before the update.

Its responsive six-speed torque-converter automatic is a refreshing tonic amidst the proliferation of continuously variable transmissions particularly among its Japanese counterparts, and for keen drivers, the quality of steering and chassis control has its immediate competition licked.

3. Racing Club Toyota 86

This was essentially a road car with some added enhancements for the rigours of hard, closed-course driving, though the limited alterations seemed to underline the base car’s prowess for driver entertainment. For the purposes of this particular drift clinic, subtlety, along with most soundproofing, had long since departed the car. Response, feedback and consistency remained.

It was towards the end of the day when our particular group got around to the drift clinic part of the driving experience course, and it can be testament to the car’s durability that the countless clutch dumps, handbrake turns and sideways moments seemed to not faze the cars’ mechanical integrity. In true sports car fashion, the qualities of the Toyota 86 shone the brightest amidst the roaring engines and tyre smoke.

2. Porsche Panamera 4S

On to a little less aggression and quite a bit more sophistication, the latest Porsche Panamera 4S I sampled in Taiwan made a convincing case for itself as a possible ‘if you could have just one car’ candidate. Its reworked exterior retains an unmistakable Porsche look while mostly doing away with the ‘squashed Cayenne’ silhouette.

Its chassis is remarkable in its agility and feedback, though probably a bit too much feedback compared to traditional limousines, some can rightly argue. The best seats in the Panamera are still those in front, where most of the new infotainment and brightwork reside, though it still has more than reasonable accommodation for four adults.

The crown jewel will, however, always be the drive, and whether its the urban crawl or the hill route, there will always be tactility and a sense of wellbeing to savour from the Panamera.

1. Formula 4 single-seater

Purity of purpose, in the case of this Formula 4-specification Renault-powered single-seater, screams louder here than in any other car I’ve sampled in 2017, therefore its voice to me as an automotive experience this year is among the loudest.

The modest output figures of 158 hp and 163 Nm of torque from the naturally aspirated 1.6 litre engine offer a not-so-modest turn of speed when relatively unencumbered by a total weight of around 500 kg, and the six-speed Sadev sequential gearbox features heavily in making this one of motordom’s more visceral experiences.

One’s senses are assaulted even before making it out of the pitlane, as the ferociously direct engine-transmission connection has no qualms about letting the driver know it doesn’t like tentative inputs. The slicks-and-wings setup makes for great lateral forces through bends, particularly through turns four to six on the Sepang International Circuit where we sampled the F4 demonstrator, albeit only on the North complex.

Steering and brakes are unassisted, therefore their heft will make way for unbridled feel and confidence at speed. It is physically hard work compared to just about anything with a licence plate, but I would take on those half-dozen or so laps all over again, preferably on the full circuit. Repeatedly. For a long time.


Hello, and welcome to my list of the Top Five cars that have impressed me the most in 2017. This year has certainly be an interesting one, and I’ve had the blessed opportunity to try out some truly interesting/amazing cars.

Singling out just five from a pool has always remained a challenge; even though this is my third time doing this. However, the cars that did finally make the cut are capable of offering something unique or represent something significant to me, as I’ll try to explain for each.

So, without delaying any further, here’s my Top Five of 2017.

5. Perodua Myvi

Yes, the most searched car of 2017 is on my list, and I have good reason for it to be there. Prior to being the owner of a Mazda 2, I had a first-gen Perodua Myvi 1.3SXi for nearly eight years. Throughout the ownership, I’m made aware of the pros and cons, the latter involving the importance of electronic stability control.

I recently had the chance to sample the new one not too long ago, when fellow colleague Danny Tan took one for a fuel efficiency test. Walking up to it, the design is a major departure from my black example of the past, one for the better at least to me. As for the business of driving one, the ride is much improved from what I remembered, and it get moving enough for what it is.

However, the main thing that impresses me is the amount of thoughtfulness put into the car. Perodua’s little hook from the Axia is a clever idea, and there are other little nuggets of common sense as well. There are sleeves to keep your phone in place while charging, embedded USB power outlets on the seat and an integrated Touch n Go reader. It’s all very thoughtful, this cabin.

This truly feels like a car designed for Malaysians by Malaysians, one that has some sense of pride associated with it. To see a car you used to own, one that was in essence a rebadged model, evolve into something that isn’t and a lot better, is why the Myvi makes my list.

4. BMW i3s

Electric cars are curious things to me, and the BMW i3s is no exception. It’s quirky to look at, and I didn’t know what to expect as I got behind the wheel of one. Slowly but surely, I warmed up to the little city car that managed to make all the occupants with me smile along.

The acceleration is comical in a good way, and the directness of the steering is quite surprising. More than that though, it is highly maneuverable as we found out while navigating the narrow streets of Lisbon, making easy work of tight turns.

Sitting inside the equally quirky cabin, it might seem strange that the contact surfaces aren’t as plush as you might expect of a BMW, considering this isn’t an exceptionally cheap car.

That’s because most of the materials used in the i3s are either recycled, responsibly sourced or from sustainable sources. The i3s isn’t just a product, but a statement of BMW’s guiding principle of sustainability. So, green ambitions and a hoot to drive? Sounds pretty good to me.

3. Mercedes-AMG GT S

There’s nothing subtle about the Mercedes-AMG GT S at all. Not when you see one, not when you start it up, and certainly not when you get it moving. It’s always a sense of occasion when driving one, and that is why it’s on my list.

The 4.0 litre biturbo V8 engine is the star of this show, capable of getting the car from a standstill to highway speeds in four seconds. It also makes a great deal of noise, which increases in intensity as you approach the 7,000 rpm redline, so remaining inconspicuous is a futile effort.

A light and very pointy front end is a reminder to stay alert, as it can get really lively if you’re overzealous with the loud pedal. This is a knife-edge street brawler, one with a pretty unforgiving ride and will always keep your heartbeat above its resting state. It is probably stronger than caffeine as a pick-me-up.

2. Maserati GranCabrio

The Maserati GranCabrio has been around for a good number of years now, and was given some slight updates to keep it going another model year. While these changes are welcomed, there’s no denying the drop-top model will have to go up against a horde of competitors that are newer, and some might say, objectively better.

This doesn’t sound promising, so why is it on my list? Well, there’s a certain amount of drama associated with the GranCabrio (and the GranTurismo for that matter), which teases two of your primary senses.

The sound of the Ferrari-sourced 4.7 litre naturally-aspirated V8 engine is one of the all-time greats, especially in the presence of turbocharged powerplants of today. Then there’s the way it looks, which after seven years, still holds a candle to modern rivals.

Lastly, there’s the whole concept behind it – to be a very good grand tourer. It’s composed, handles well and isn’t painful to your bones, allowing you to better enjoy the journey/scenary as the kilometres tick down. Just imagine, a drop-top Maserati driving along an Italian lake in the summer. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

1. BMW M5

It is truly the best of many worlds with the latest F90, which adds another glorious chapter to the BMW M5 mythos. Put simply, the car has such a wide skillset that it is up to you to choose how you’d like to drive it.

If comfort is what you seek, it isn’t far off from a regular 5 Series. If outright speed is the only thing on your mind, the 4.4 litre twin-turbo V8 is more than happy to oblige, with the new M xDrive all-wheel-drive system serving to make sure you don’t make a hash of things.

Should you suddenly feel like you are reborn as a tyre slayer, the car can adjusted to be your weapon as well. As I’ve said, it is the best of many worlds – all-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, comfortable cruiser, track star, drift machine, etc. It is a work of brilliance from the most powerful letter in the world.


I’m back! Having taken a more behind-the-scenes role in 2016, I had to skip our annual year-ender special due to the fact that I only drove around 10 notable cars that year. Choosing a Top Five out of 10 would hardly be fair (or interesting) now, would it?

In 2017, however, with me being in front of the cameras (more so than I’d have preferred), I’ve had my fair share of motoring experiences. A few drives proved disappointing (Proton Persona, Peugeot 208/2008 Puretech), while others were predictable (just as good or bad as expected; either way, meh).

The outstanding ones, you’ll discover below. Had this been a list of the best cars I’ve driven this year, it would look very different indeed. But these five picks are personal to me, and just like 2017, I’ll remember them for years to come.

5. Honda City Hybrid

Yes, I know. What an unexciting start to my list, especially next to the fancy sports cars that I’m sure will fill up Anthony and Jonathan’s picks. [ed. Hah, I was right! Gerard and Matt, not you too…]

But, let’s not forget just how good the City Hybrid is. The standard City is a fantastic all-rounder – definitely the pick of the class, bar none, everything considered – but it does have a few faults, especially its soggy suspension and lazy CVT. The hybrid fixes them both, and then some.

Combined, the efficient yet powerful drivetrain and sportier suspension and steering offer a duality that is rare in this industry. Compared to the standard models, the City Hybrid has far superior dynamics and significantly improved efficiency, making it more enjoyable to drive and easier to live with, while costing no more to purchase and maintain.

It’s also significant in other ways. Malaysia is the only market outside of Japan to have both the City and Jazz hybrids officially, and the models in its home market now carry improvements developed from durability testing done here in our harsh conditions. Designed in Japan, but perfected in Malaysia. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

4. Kia Grand Carnival

That’s right, yet another mundane choice. A large people carrier. The Grand Carnival isn’t a car anyone will lose sleep after, but it’s a great addition to the Malaysian car market.

Korean carmakers have had somewhat of a resurgence this year. I was thoroughly, thoroughly impressed by the Kia Optima GT and Hyundai Elantra Sport – finally two sporty vehicles from Korea with impressive driving dynamics, banishing any memories of the dreadful Veloster Turbo they had the cheek to call a sports coupe before. Still, it’s the Grand Carnival that deserves more recognition.

Yes, it looks like a bus, and it doesn’t have the prestige of large Japanese MPVs. Furthermore, performance isn’t great (don’t be fooled by the impressive turbodiesel numbers), the Ford Ranger pick-up truck has more responsive steering, and you really need the costly top model to get the full experience (and still get halogen lights and a tiny touchscreen inside). But, as a whole, it’s a wonderful multi-purpose vehicle.

It’s massively practical, with way more space for eight adults than a Toyota Alphard/Vellfire, plus a cavernous boot even with all seats up. Fold down all the seats, and it’s more spacious than a cargo van. It’s well thought out too, with dedicated air con vents for all rows, magic fold-forward second-row seats for genuinely easy access to the third, and the way the last row disappears into the floor is pure genius.

If I ever need a proper MPV, this’ll be it.

3. My own Peugeot 208 GTi

If you’ve been following this site for long enough, you’ll know that I fell head over heels for the 208 GTi when I first drove it in 2013. The following year I chose it over the revered Ford Fiesta ST in our hot hatch shootout, much to the disagreement of many ( collegues included). In 2015, I finally bought one myself, and unceremoniously fell out of love with it.

You see, as a daily driver it proved to be too cramped, too uncomfortable and perhaps most damning of all, it wasn’t at all glamorous enough to be seen in (yes, call me vain, I’m guilty of that). It didn’t make my 2015 list, and I even hurled awful words at it: “[it] just doesn’t quite cut it. Jack of all trades, master of none.”

I’ve come to regret those words.

Now that I have a sedan as my main vehicle (a W205 Mercedes-Benz C300, which definitely would have made my 2016 list, if I had one), the 208 GTi has been demoted to be my spare/toy car. And in that very specific role, the 200 hp, six-speed manual hot hatch is exceedingly brilliant. I’m in love again.

I now get to enjoy the best parts of it (supremely accessible performance and handling) over short jaunts up the mountain, without having to live with its many shortcomings (harsh ride, slow air con, ghastly head unit). But wait a minute, wouldn’t a Fiesta ST, which I chided mainly for having an overly stiff ride, be a better fit, then? Well, every time I chase my touge buddy’s ST, his blue diffuser reminds me that I made the right call.

2. Perodua Myvi

The new Myvi is a little bit like Star Wars: The Last Jedi. No really, do indulge me for a bit.

It’s the latest addition to a highly successful nameplate, but it wasn’t quite what people expected. Its predecessor, though wildly popular, was often criticised for recycling too much of the original idea – it’s the same thing over and over again, just with a new dress. A big change was needed for the new one, everyone agreed.

Deliver just that, it did. The third-generation model introduced plenty of hot new elements not found in the old editions, making it the first fresh new Myvi since a long, long time ago. Critics absolutely loved it, lauding it as a new and different take on a successful, though some would say tired formula.

And still, the radical changes received mixed responses from the public. Some quarters condemned it for being too different, straying too far from what a Myvi should be. It doesn’t look or feel like a Myvi anymore, some said. It can’t do anything right, it seems. It has become cool to hate on the Myvi.

As for me, I say screw the naysayers. The changes made are mostly for the better, though undoubtedly there are a few (minor) backward steps too. No matter what people say, it’s still racking up the sales, and you can count me as a big fan – both the car and the film.

1. Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe

Objectively, the new E-Class Coupe is really an unexceptional car. There’s nothing outstanding about it. The G30 BMW 5 Series (closest match for now) is a far superior machine in virtually every measurable aspect. Like for like, it’s quicker, more fuel efficient and it has a faster and smoother transmission, all while being more comfortable and much more enjoyable to drive.

So, what’s the E-Class Coupe doing at the top of my list, then?

Simple. Love is blind. All it took was a glance at the sexy rear end, or a glimpse of the beautifully crafted interior for me to turn a blind eye at all of its objective shortcomings. From then on, subjectivity took over. Or was it lust? I was enamoured.

Now, I’ve never been a big fan of the slim-tailed Mercedes coupes of recent years – the C-Class Coupe‘s rear end, especially, is all kinds of wrong in my books. The E-Class Coupe, however, is different somehow. I can’t explain exactly what it is that makes it so appealing to me. It just is.

Like I said in my video review, it’s now my favourite Mercedes-Benz model. Actually scratch that. It’s my favourite car, period. It has been a long time since I’ve fallen hard for a new car, but this one’s done it. Call me a superficial fool. I’m a fool in love.


Not much travelling for me this year, but the upshot of this was that I was on hand to sample some of the absolute best cars on sale in Malaysia. As a result, my Top Five reads like an embarrassment of riches – something that is usually the reserve of sports car regular Anthony, and one that my colleagues have been chiding me about all month (I’m looking at you, Mr Hafriz Shah).

So yes, there’s an AMG super sedan, a Ferrari shooting brake, a sporty Lexus luxury coupé and a purist rear-wheel drive manual Toyota on here – not exactly the most humble selection you’ll find. On the flip side, I’ve also included a Proton (well, sort of), something the rest of the writers can’t boast. Apologies for this pompous excuse of a Top Five, I’ll try and be more grounded next year.

5. Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Sedan

This was supposed to be a very brief encounter – a short loan proffered by Hafriz before we shot a video of the Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Sedan. But so smitten I was by the power and sure-footedness of Affalterbach’s smallest V8-powered model that I covered over 100 km in the little beast before handing it back.

I had heard daunting tales of its coupé sibling, how its unruly ride and propensity for power oversteer meant it could chew and spit you out at any corner. Be careful, my more esteemed colleagues said, so I was, for the first few kilometres – gently prodding the throttle before fully exploring its long travel and the depths of the car’s extraordinary performance.

I needn’t have worried. I’m not sure what the differences were from the two-door, but the car I drove felt planted and rock-solid, unperturbed by even the most nasty mid-corner bump. Its firm, yet compliant ride certainly helped matters, giving a duality to the hardcore Merc’s character that I just did not expect.

Of course, you still need to exercise due caution before cracking the throttle wide open – that’s what 510 hp and a whopping 700 Nm from a 4.0 litre hand-built biturbo V8 does to you. Speaking of which, the growl from the quad exhausts simply needs to be heard to be believed (even thought this car did not have the performance exhaust system), although it’s not quite as good as another car further up the list.

4. Ferrari GTC4Lusso

In another world, this spot would have been occupied by the new Ferrari 812 Superfast – the Pilota Ferrari event held earlier this year was supposed to include a drive in Maranello’s 789 hp rear-wheel drive monster. However, just minutes before I was due to take the track, the overworked test unit blew its V12 innards all along Sepang’s back straight.

To its credit, Naza Italia swiftly arranged for a GTC4Lusso to take its place, but with the clever-but-worthy 4RM all-wheel drive system and only 681 hp from its 6.3 litre naturally-aspirated V12, it couldn’t possibly deliver an exciting enough drive, could it? Wrong.

I don’t know of any other car that made nearly seven hundred horses feel so accessible, marrying stability and poise with a level of agility and immediacy that belied its near-five-metre length. The explosive power on tap was matched by the kind of manic high-pitched wail that one could only expect from a Ferrari V12.

An on-road stint in the turbo V8-powered, rear-drive GTC4Lusso T only reaffirmed the positives encountered on the track. The vivid, linear acceleration was unencumbered by forced induction, but it was the car’s tractable nature, cosseting ride and low-speed manoeuvrability that really stood out. There may have been more memorable drives for me this year, but that doesn’t diminish the appeal of this bewitching grand tourer.

3. Geely Boyue

Geely’s acquisition of Proton took the local automotive industry by storm, and it’s set to bring about sweeping changes to the national carmaker. One of those is that the company will be building its first ever SUV based on the Boyue next year, and in August it flew select media to China to sample the donor car.

I, for one, was sceptical about the midsize crossover. Geely’s pockets are deep and its success with Volvo well known, but while Chinese cars have generally grown into a handsome bunch (there are certainly way fewer outright copies nowadays), fears of shoddy build quality, a lacklustre powertrain and lumpen road manners remained. I went into the test drive with my expectations heavily tempered.

The Boyue blew those expectations clear out of the water. This was a car that featured a well-equipped, beautifully appointed cabin, with a level of perceived quality that would shade many supposedly premium-badged offerings. It was also filled to the brim with toys such as an impressive voice control system, Apple CarPlay connectivity, autonomous emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.

Most impressive were the refined turbo engine, smooth six-speed auto and plush ride. In fact, the only nits I could pick were a slightly sluggish throttle response and chassis dynamics perhaps skewed a bit too much towards the comfort side. But Proton has done wonders with humble ingredients before (see the Saga, which made my list last year) and with a solid base in the Boyue, I’m confident it will return to our selections in 2018.

2. Toyota 86

This was as much about the location and the experience as it was about the car itself. I managed to book a little time for myself in Japan at the end of our exhaustive Tokyo Motor Show coverage, and driving up the Hakone Turnpike has always been on the bucket list.

So I went ahead and got myself an 86 for half a day from Toyota’s excellent Rent a Car service (yes, you can request for a manual, rear-wheel drive sports car from one of the country’s biggest car rental companies, as easily as you can a Corolla Axio), and set about tearing up the revered touge road.

It was nothing short of incredible. Japan’s Nürburgring may not have been as long or as challenging as the one in Germany, but it was just as entertaining – a riot of fast, sweeping curves and tight hairpins, punctuated by breathtaking vistas from the bridges overlooking the vast valleys. Even the never-ending rain and heavy fog (you’d be able to see Mount Fuji otherwise) brought on by a typhoon did little to dampen the fun.

The 86 was more than a willing and able partner for such an excursion. Yes, it’s uncouth when you’re just ambling along, with a diesel-like rattle at idle and a recalcitrant gearshift when cold, but once you get up on it the car just sings. You simply forget about the lack of power – on a road like this all you need is a light, nimble car with a chassis balance to die for, and the 86 delivers all that in spades. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

1. Lexus LC 500

Again, my time with the Lexus LC 500 was supposed to be short – just a one-day shoot for a video that will be coming soon. But unexpected weather interruptions meant that I spent a grand total of four days with this svelte luxury coupé, and it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Really, however, ten minutes were all it took for it to suck me in with its considerable charm. As expected, the rorty 5.0 litre naturally-aspirated V8 completely dominated the experience, with instant, crisp throttle response, an unquenchable thirst for revs and the kind of spine-tingling bark that would make the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra sound like a bunch of rank amateurs.

Less expected was the playful yet ultimately benign chassis, one that takes you by the hand and shows you just how much fun you can have on a twisty back road, without ever biting back. And yet, just by backing off, the smooth, whisper-quiet ride turned the LC into a proper grand tourer that knew few equals.

That’s not even taking into account the fantastic show car looks, or that interior – Malaysians may be obsessed by the panache of a BMW or Mercedes badge, but when it comes to building an achingly stylish cabin that will last a thousand years, Lexus blows them all into next Tuesday. Just like Hafriz and the E-Class Coupé, I’ve fallen completely in love with this red beauty, and all I want is more.


There was again less sampled this year than two years ago, but easily enough to get a run of 10 sitting in the final list to be whittled down.

For the curious, the full set is rounded off by a Mercedes-AMG (the C 43 Coupe), two BMWs (740Le xDrive and 530i) as well as two Japanese offerings (the Honda S 660 – in manual guise – and surprise, surprise, the Lexus LC 500, the latter more for its looks and presence than its outright drivability). The end cut was made up of two SUVs, an extended hatch with unique rear access doors and two sports cars, both topless – can you tell that I like roadsters?

5. Honda CR-V 1.5L Turbo

That the sport utility vehicle segment has evolved into a very crowded and ultra-competitive arena is best summed up by the fortunes of the previous fourth-gen Honda CR-V – expected to continue the good work set by its predecessor, its short-lived run started promisingly and ended with it being thoroughly mugged and left by the roadside.

The new CR-V more than takes the fight to the direct competition, and as sales numbers show, it seems to be ace-ing them nicely. It is somewhat predictable in how it scopes its presentation, and from an interior perspective there are plusher offerings (for example, the Peugeot 3008 is ahead in overall finesse and in-cabin tactility), but it makes up for this in many areas elsewhere, and how.

The pluses read very nicely – an impressive turbo mill, exceptional interior space, a comprehensive kit count and Honda Sensing all do their bit to make a compelling argument for the fifth-gen. Greater than the sum of its parts, the cleverly packaged RW has a whole lot of allure – it’s all good enough to bowl over this household for the long term, a second time around.

4. F54 MINI Clubman Cooper S

The past has much to do with the draw towards this one, but it is the present that cements the deal. Ages ago, one of my uncles had a Clubman Estate (the British Leyland one), and while there were plenty of other fancy metal residing in that garage, it was always the little wagon that held my fascination, not so much because of its boxy shape, but rather its two side-hinged cargo access doors.

Fast forward to the new one, and I was suckered the moment I clapped eyes on it in Berlin at its world debut. Did the twin boot doors have much to do with it? Of course, but it’s really how it drives that firmly places it in my list this year.

The new MINIs have always been a hoot to drive, although the same cannot be said about the ride quality, best described as patchy at times. Not so the F54, which is an absolute roller. Back in September, a six-speed manual Cooper S provided many memorable moments over the course of a 1,000 km run in Germany – the manual transmission may have made the drive notable, but it was the highly compliant ride quality that stood out, managed without any detriment to driving fun and emotional engagement on many a B-road.

3. C190 Mercedes-AMG GT C (coupe and convertible)

The Mercedes-AMG GT S holds a special place in my heart, despite its churlish, unforgiving nature – I adore the boorish nature of the beast, but that steering isn’t for everyone, and neither is its suspension and demand for absolute commitment and focus each time you decide you want to play all-out rough. And you will, because it’s that kind of car.

So you’d think that with such a ruffian around, the higher ups in the family should be even more thuggish in nature. As it turns out, this is far from being the case, even though they’re much more potent propositions. From a technical standpoint, the GT R is fascinating, an absolute party trick on the track, but it’s the middle-ground GT C that nicks my vote.

It’s not that you can get around faster in the C than the S, but it’s the manner in how you get there that most will find appealing – for one, it’s better planted and the tail doesn’t try to get in front of you each time you try something stupid in earnest, while the steering is far better weighed and articulated, which will calm the mindset of most of those willing to have a go. It’s every inch a performer, as involving as the S, just far more polished.

Of the two available body-style types, the Roadster is my pick; both are great to drive, but the soft-top gives away very little in coherency and integration to the hardtop, a pleasant surprise, and that sense of open-top freedom is unmatchable. Unfortunately, those wanting the heightened GT experience will just have to make do with the flagship GT R here.

2. Ferrari 488 Spider

Some things get better the second – and third time – around. Such is the case with the Ferrari 488, revisited again this year primarily in its Spider form, although there was also a long-distance run with the GTB, both of which served to remind – and reinforce – the magnetism of this one.

The ‘topless’ form of the GTB takes some getting used to from a styling POV – the lines on the coupe look more organic in how they flow, and the Spider isn’t always visually flattering from some angles, but all is forgiven when freedom comes with the top rolled back.

Otherwise, both are very much the same car in feel and execution, fast and very technically accomplished. Time has given the turbo’s leanings more intrinsic appeal, althought the first return to the platform in Thailand – made mostly at speeds around 80 km/h – earlier in the year didn’t provide the necessary engagement, for obvious reasons.

Twelve laps in unbridled fashion around Sepang did. The Spider was the provided vehicle for a second Pilota driver training course, supposedly to move to the next level Advanced – that didn’t quite happen as intended, but belting along in what ended up being a refresher provided for a hoot of a time. Exacting when asked, deviant when you want it to be, and boundlessly rapid all the time, the immensely drivable 488 bolstered itself as a winner in my books, with topless – as it is with the AMG GT C – the much preferred route.

1. L462 Land Rover Discovery

Another Land Rover makes the top of my list again, and for good reason. Nothing else driven this year has proved to be as all-encompassing and as able on so many fronts. The fifth-generation Discovery – particularly in its Si6 guise, which unfortunately we won’t be getting – is an immense SUV, making short shrift of all the terrain and variety of conditions (snow, ice, gravel and some highly technical sand dunes) thrown at it in the US.

From an adventure-capable viewpoint, the company says that the Disco 5 is the most accomplished performer in the brand’s inventory right now, and there’s very little to argue against that. That it drives well (though not RRS territory), seats seven and features high levels of interior swank adds further to the wide-ranging scope and tactility on offer.

It’s not just thoroughly dressed in modern clothes – it’s a totally modern vehicle, one that will go anywhere, do anything, and in great comfort at that. Purists may lament the complete passing of a workhorse, but that’s how it has become. New fans beckon – with this one, you can expect more than ever to be queing up to go to the Disco, though not many will be dancing away with this one here, given the pricing.


I had my Top Five sewn up two weeks before the year ended. Or so I thought. A brief but impactful encounter of less than an hour with a supermodel forced me to reassess my options, and it would have ranked higher if we had spent more time together.

Wildcard aside, the other cars in my list are significant improvements over their predecessors, with refinement being a recurring theme.

Call it ageing, but I appreciate less exciting qualities as much as traditional car enthusiast must-haves these days – think effortless delivery over boorish engines and ride comfort over super-sharp responses. A car has to be engaging still, but moderation is key.

5. Lexus LC 500

The Lexus LF-LC is one of my favourite concepts of recent times, and the production LC stays true to the dramatic proposal – even the wheels and deep red paint are showcar grade. Lexus didn’t stop at the exterior – the LC’s cabin is a showcase of originality and craftsmanship, brought to life by our tester’s all-brown palette.

I did not expect me and VAT 500 to click, but we did so immediately. I love the fact that the LC is comfortable in its own skin as a grand tourer and wasn’t overtly sporty. It has a sweet V8 voice, but is never shouty. Instead of touge runs, I was beginning to envision daily life with the big coupe.

The LC 500, a supermodel that’s easy going and fun to chill with, makes RM940k seem like a bargain.

4. Hyundai Elantra Sport

Korean cars have impressed with their design and content for some time now, but more often than not, they fall short when it comes to driving satisfaction. Not so the Hyundai Elantra Sport.

There’s nothing at the money that offers more performance, and the 1.6L turbo’s 204 PS/265 Nm comfortably beats the Civic 1.5T on paper. But the big surprise is on the move – the Hyundai offers the keen driver more engagement with a dual-clutch auto, which is well-behaved for its kind.

The Elantra Sport’s well-judged ride and handling balance, and the subtle manner that performance is dished out, means that it’s more cut-price premium exec than GTI-baiting hot hatch. That’s why it struck a chord with me.

3. G30 BMW 530i

How would you define the best car in the world? It could be a car that offers the ultimate in tech and/or cossets the best (the S-Class is often billed as such), or it could be an all-round player in a game that’s all about compromises.

If it’s the latter, the G30 BMW 5 Series will surely be in contention. Munich’s latest business exec is a supremely soothing and effortless car to drive, thanks to a silky powertrain and significant gains in comfort and isolation.

The Five’s mandate is to be a luxury express and it’s a great car to accumulate miles in, but the G30 is always obliging when driving opportunities arise. It’s no 3 Series, but is plenty sport for a car so big and comfy. The ads are right, it’s truly a Business Athlete.

2. Honda Civic Type R

Everything starts with a dream, but it’s amazing what one can achieve when focus, resources and willpower are thrown into the mix. For the FK8 Honda Civic Type R, that dream was to tame the Nurburgring. It did so in convincing fashion, and thankfully for us, the mission’s by-product is a fantastic road car.

The impressive performance, tenacious traction and sweet manual shift are high points that are somewhat expected; but the FK8R’s surprisingly good touring comfort and refinement gives it a breadth of abilities not seen in previous Type Rs.

A more controversial consequence of the track attack is the exaggerated design. If you find no issue with the caricature styling, this is a royal flush.

1. Perodua Myvi

It would have been the launch of the year in any case, but the third-gen Perodua Myvi was a box full of surprises, confounding expectations of an affordable local car.

Things like LED headlamps and keyless entry – which some cars costing many times more fail to offer – are standard on the RM44,300 base model. The Advance, at just RM11k more, pushes the boat out by including driver assist systems that are unprecedented in a sub-RM100k car.

At this point, we would have forgiven the Myvi for being no better to drive than before, but the new hatchback boasts improved NVH, road manners and efficiency. Bonus points for unique features (built-in TnG reader, AC memory) that Malaysians can appreciate daily.

The Myvi is proof that Perodua, which has led the market for over a decade, is showing no signs of complacency.