As usual, at the start of the year, we’ll compile our favourite cars and most popular stories. You’ve seen each of the paultan.org writers pick their personal top fives, now here’s a list of the top 10 most viewed reviews from 2018.

If you sense a theme, yes, it’s mostly Japanese cars here, with the exception of our 2017 review of the Geely Boyue, Kia Picanto and Peugeot 3008 – the latter two were part of three-car Driven Web Series shootouts. SUVs are in-trend, and there are plenty of the raised hatchbacks here as well.

Interestingly, three reviews from 2017 appear in this 2018 list. The full road test report of the Perodua Myvi has served as a reference for many, while No.10 in the list went live days before 2018 started. Interest in our Geely Boyue review was revived by the recent introduction of the Proton X70.

10. DRIVEN: Honda Jazz Sport Hybrid – more for less?

Launched in mid-2017, the Honda Jazz Hybrid was (and still is) the most affordable hybrid car in Malaysia. We are the only country outside of Japan to get the facelifted GK with a hybrid option – officials say that this is due to our country’s Energy Efficient Vehicle (EEV) incentives as well as high market acceptance of hybrid cars.

It’s powered by a Sport Hybrid i-DCD system, which consists of a 1.5 litre petrol engine, a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with integrated electric motor, and a lithium-ion battery. The system also includes an electric servo brake system and an electric driven compressor. Lots of tech for the money, but the Hybrid is outsold by the regular petrol Jazz. Why?

9. DRIVEN: Geely Boyue – first impressions review

The final fruit that is the Proton X70 has now been launched, but this review came very early in the Proton-Geely era – less than two months after the partnership’s definitive agreement was inked in June 2017, in fact. Sitting in number nine, it was also our fourth most read review in 2017.

Two and a half years ago, Jonathan Lee flew to China to learn more about Geely, as well as sample the then-current pre-facelift Boyue. Our man found the SUV to be stylish and high-tech, as well as comfortable and refined, but wasn’t so keen on the response and dynamics. Having sampled the facelifted Boyue in China last year, I concur – it’s a fitting set of qualities for a family SUV.

8. DRIVEN: 2019 Mazda 3 prototype with SkyActiv-X engine

Mazda has long aimed to build an engine with compression ignition, and we got to sample the future in the SkyActiv-X engine, which features Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI). As opposed to the complete omission of spark plugs, the final version will retain the use of a spark plug to control ignition timing at specific periods.

The Hiroshima-based carmaker has always gone against the grain when it comes to powerplants, and while everyone everywhere is racing to push out electric cars, Mazda believes that the good old internal combustion engine – with some new innovation – is still relevant. This big NA engine is a stark contrast with downsized turbos and electrification – how will it fare?

7. DRIVEN: 2018 Nissan Serena S-Hybrid – great appeal

Brand new Nissans don’t appear very often in Malaysia (the last one was the Navara in 2015), but one did so in 2018. It was an appealing one too, the C27 facelifted Nissan Serena S-Hybrid, as Hafriz Shah found out.

“I thought its comfort levels – and honest character – made it a very likeable MPV to move around in though. It doesn’t pretend to be what it’s not, and what it is, is a really good people carrier. In essence, the new Nissan Serena is a great family MPV, well improved over the old model in pretty much all areas, and at this pricepoint, it’s pretty much in a class of its own,” he said.

6. DRIVEN: 2018 Honda HR-V RS – first impressions

When we first drove the Honda HR-V in Malaysia in mid-2015, this writer said: “Of late, the phrase ‘game changer’ has been thrown around rather freely, but Honda has truly changed the SUV game with HR-V, the confident small guy punching above its weight.” Fast forward three years and the B-segment SUV has around 70% of the class to itself (as of mid-2018), and it’s also Honda Malaysia’s second best selling model after the City.

How then do you improve on something that clearly isn’t broke? The facelift boasts more kit and improved looks, thanks to a new grille and headlamps, RS-spec black and dark chrome trim, 18-inch rims and a nice red paintjob.

5. Driven Web Series: Perodua Myvi vs Proton Iriz vs Kia Picanto

In this Driven Web Series episode, we compared the sales-topping Perodua Myvi against the Proton Iriz and Kia Picanto. They’re all around RM50k, but you get a different mix of qualities with each hatchback, as Hafriz, Harve Singh and Matthew Tong discovered.

In the group test video, we compared the three affordable models’ specs, performance, ride and handling, practicality, quality and fuel economy. Who came out tops? Watch it again to recap.

4. DRIVEN: 2018 Subaru XV – all the SUV you need?

Like the Honda HR-V, the Subaru XV is a crossover that has really caught on with the urban crowd. But unlike the Honda, this is an all-new generation – and despite using the same template, Subaru has come up with a much-improved car in all aspects, not just skin deep ones.

And as usual, you get a lot of car for your money with the XV. It’s no surprise then to see it so high up in this list. Personally, I think the XV would be a near perfect foil to a sports car in a two-car urban garage.

3. DRIVEN: 2018 Perodua Myvi – full road-test

More Myvi, this time a full road test report on Malaysia’s favourite car, with real-world fuel consumption and NVH figures. There’s very little about the Myvi that hasn’t been already said, but here’s a summary.

It’s a big improvement over the previous Myvi. It looks better, has a more practical and higher quality interior, a lot of new convenience and safety features, and sports improved driving dynamics too. It has its faults, of course, but “at these prices, there’s nothing else that comes even close to the new Myvi in value for money terms. Indeed, if you’re looking to buy a car under RM100k, do take a look at the Myvi first. It really is that good,” our man Hafriz said.

2. DRIVEN: Toyota C-HR 1.8L – about logic vs emotion

Many don’t like the Toyota C-HR and I can see why. Tribalism aside, they don’t like the price, which is on the high side. A value buy it is surely not, but for me, the C-HR is Toyota letting its hair down and being bold.

Not long ago, it would be unimaginable that Toyota came up with a car like this. They could have made the C-HR more spacious, more practical with better visibility and more “normal” looking. Heck, it looks even wilder than Toyota’s actual coupe, the 86. With a smooth drivetrain and good ride comfort, the C-HR is a great daily driver, but what’s truly surprising is its ability and enthusiasm when pushed hard in the bends. Most will be better served by an HR-V, but this car feels that bit more special.

1. Driven Web Series: Best family SUVs – Honda CR-V vs Mazda CX-5 vs Peugeot 3008

You don’t need to be a car industry watcher to know that these days, everybody loves SUVs. And it’s to no one in this office’s surprise that our Driven Web Series episode starring the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5 and Peugeot 3008 received the most views last year in the reviews category.

The Honda CR-V is the archetypal C-segment family SUV and a household name here, but the Mazda CX-5 has in just two generations became a credible rival by touting design and dynamics. Look around you, they’re everywhere these days. We also threw in an interesting European challenger in the Peugeot 3008. It used to be a pseudo SUV, now it’s a regular one with a focus on design. Watch to recap.