Instead of the usual top five picks of the year, we’re doing something different to celebrate the end of the 2010s. Ten cars that have impressed each of us in the past 10 years. Makes for more interesting reading, I’d venture.

Okay, so it isn’t technically the end of the decade, if you want to be really pedantic about it, but just think of it as what floated our boat in a decade, starting from 2010. Let’s just go with the moment and not mention end-2020, shall we?

The decade (there’s that word again!) has certainly served up a storm in the way of cars and tech, and at the rate things are progressing, the serving dished up 10 years from now will likely be made up primarily of alternative fuel vehicles with electronic screens on every surface you could possibly think of. The thought may be electrifying to some, maybe not to others. Hopefully, it will serve up as many gems as the last 10 have done, but I’m not holding my breath.

As per usual, the challenge of finding 10 choice picks over the span is far less easier than for a single year (if I was a betting man, I’d put money on everyone here having swore at me at some point). In my case, many of those here were immediate choices, but there was still some racking needed for the final list, and there were some worthy cars that didn’t make it.

But, keeping to the intent of picking that which floated our boat, here’s the 10 that stood out for me over the past decade. Tough one to make, but it’s done.

10. GK Honda Jazz

Despite a penchant for sharp, angular lines (to wit, the first-gen Ford Focus), the third-gen Jazz didn’t quite work for me when it first appeared, the preference being with the older GE where looks were concerned. Since then, having spent quite a bit of time with it over the years, I’ve become enamoured.

What’s not to like, really? The Jazz is a solid, natty offering, a small tyke with a lot of heart. The petrol mill is sprightly and the car drives well, and it’s well equipped in its high-spec form. Strong points too for the cabin presentation – aside from the testy affair that is the buttonless switchgear, the interior has been a sight better than many rivals, save Mazda.

Most of all, it has character, a certain je ne sais quoi about it, and it has always been the one car at the top of the list as the potential replacement for the now going-on-nine Fiesta. Don’t ask me why that’s never happened; maybe it will the next one around, but I can’t help but feel that it might not quite be the same thing. Oh well.

9. Ford Mustang S550

This one isn’t so much about drivability, which it does competently enough, but rather the appeal of something different than what we’ve all been accustomed to. That a veritable piece of Americana would make the transition beyond its world into the world would have been quite unthinkable before the decade started, but here we are, one pony car on the global stage later.

By all accounts, the S550 has been a successful outing, even in these parts where there is no legacy, albeit accomplished mainly through the grey route. It’s not just the novelty of the type that makes for the appeal, of course, because the sixth-gen does drive quite well, and not just in a straight line. Lots of charm in the retro feel of the cabin presentation too.

It’s also energetic, and the GT, with its 5.0 litre Coyote V8 with a MT82 six-speed manual, offers a good turn of speed – that combination in Fastback form would be my pick out of the entire range. On the pre-facelift, the six-speed auto feels a bit too languid, but does its job at serving a wider target audience. Six years in, the Mustang still catches my eye, and you know what, it always will.

8. Toyota 86

If you believe that engagement and charm can come from beyond just speed and mere looks, then welcome to the car that manages just that. There’s not enough power, and that cabin feels plasticky cheap at points, but what a car. I was sold the first time I drove it, and was carried off again to the market the second time around. All this, with an auto ‘box, mind you.

Sharp steering, responsive, with first-rate placement characteristics, the 86 served up a storm when we tested it. Pluses include an excellent seating position and fantastic shifter feel, but the short of it is that everything simply gelled, making for an thoroughly engaging experience behind the wheel.

Even now, it remains an excellent drive, as evidenced in an outing in Gerard’s Subaru-badged sibling earlier this year, and its emotional appeal remains as bewitching as ever.

7. Ferrari 488 GTB/Spider

Time has a great way of tempering outlook, especially when repeated engagement is involved. Such is the case with the 488. Perhaps it was the alien sensation of turbocharging at that point or the muted soundtrack, but it wasn’t completely hook, line and sinker, despite the car being fast, dynamic and immensely drivable.

Three further encounters in here, one through a long distance journey up north and two with the Spider form of the type (once on Sepang), cemented things. As mentioned a couple of years ago, time has brought more of the car’s character to the surface, and given the turbo’s leanings more intrinsic appeal.

Of the two bodystyles, the preference has also swung – while the Spider looks less organically composed with the top up, its ability to offer open-top freedom makes it the more alluring of the duo. While the F8 Tributo, essentially a 488 Pista with all the toppings, addresses shortcomings and is a definite advancement, I’m going with this one for its significance for the brand in this decade, and also for winning me over completely.

6. B299 Ford Fiesta ST

Very few cars over the past 10 years have been this psychologically engaging from a driving viewpoint. When it appeared here in 2014, the little ST proceeded to blitz its way into the hearts (if not the mind) of the staffers here through the course of a road trip shootout. That it went into five of the six Top Five lists that year is testament to the effect it had on all who drove it.

Granted, it wasn’t all roses – there was the focused (pardon the term) approach of just two doors, a ride best termed as unwavering and a spartan cabin that could have been better presented to differentiate it from a regulation Fiesta.

All this, however, took nothing away from the car, for me at least. The only reason I didn’t end up with one was that there was already the Fiesta and another ST at home, but it’s still etched firmly in the memory, five years on. Having raved on about the car then, I’ll still say it now, fidelity doesn’t come as straight and true as this.

5. FK8 Honda Civic Type R

Okay, so there’s no middle ground when it comes to the over-the-top looks of this one, but I absolutely adore it to bits. No kidding. The CTR looks all dressed up for a wild night out, but it’s not just a tease – this is the real deal, delivering on the thrills when asked, and not politely when demanded. Nudge it hard enough and you’ll find that it’s a veritable scalpel, a pure manic machine.

Highlights include a crisp, meticulous steering, willing motor, precise snick-snack gearshifts and phenomenal levels of grip, but it’s how the entire package works that is seals the deal with this one, the whole truly being greater than the sum of its parts.

Best of all is that it is docile when you want it to be, and the surprising compliance of the suspension means that it can also do daily far better than an FD2 could ever hope to. Okay, so the interior could do with more gloss and veneer, but I can live with that. In fact, it would probably be sitting in the porch right now if it hadn’t cost that much.

4. W176 Mercedes-Benz A-Class

In this day and age of fast moving warfare, defining moments are rare, but this has definitely been one, and what an outstanding achievement it is. To say it was a breath of fresh air coming in from the previous-gen W169 would be understating it – this then is the car that started the brand’s journey from stoic, old world reservedness to trendy and desirable, well within a decade at that. Who’d have thought, right?

Of the various models driven over the years of the third-gen’s existence, the obvious pick of the crop would be the A 45 AMG, as it was known when it appeared. Brazen, to the point of boorish even, the car made no excuses for what it was, and it worked a treat. But the A 250 Sport was a lot of fun too, its stiff ride never really bothering me as it did many others here.

Having just spent a week with the A-Class Sedan, it’s obvious that the W177 is a far more polished product, even if has become a little more matter of fact and the quality isn’t sometimes an advancement over that in the car it has replaced. Between old and new, the choice is simple, automatic even – a tip of the hat then to the pathfinder, the one that started it all.

3. L494 Range Rover Sport

Solihull has been churning out quite a number of hits in the last decade, and something like the new Disco should arguably be in here, but I’m going to go with this one as the pick of that lot, because it’s the one that converted me into a believer.

I remember being taken by its abilities back then, which felt all-encompassing, from the barrelling along Welsh B-roads in liberal fashion to sloshing around in Eastnor across a variety of terrain. It didn’t even need the navigating through the innards of a Jumbo to seal the deal, but why not, hey?

Part of draw was how the RRS made light work of things, handling impressively despite its bulk, with oodles of mechanical grip. It felt fast, and most of all, was poised and comfortable across the entire operating range. For a long while, this remained top choice in the hypothetical one-car garage game that we occasionally indulge in here at the publication. Actually, it still is, except in SVR form, and in Velocity Blue.

2. C190 Mercedes-AMG GT S/C

It might be tied to some latent, deep-rooted fascination for shoes, but long-nosed coupes work very well for me, and the wilder, the better (not the shoes). It took nearly a decade after the E86 Z4 M to find something that would make for sweaty palms, but this one has been it. Specifically, the GT S.

I once told Danny, a car should scare you a little to truly captivate. On a wet, then-unknown entity that was Laguna Seca, the GT S – with its light, almost comedic steering and tail-happy disposition – did just that, and by quite a bit, all the while proceeding to sear itself into my brain. I’m still amazed the Corkscrew didn’t claim me and the car in what remains a standout moment on track in the last decade.

The fun continued closer to home, the GT S’ effervescence and snappy temperament continuing to be a point of allure, like the girl who beats you up but have you coming back for more. Okay, maybe that’s a bad analogy, but you get the idea. Call it a challenge then.

The GT C tidies things up a fair bit and is undoubtedly the more accomplished car when pushed, and so it too makes it into the billing here. The pre-facelift GT R was a powerhouse, but for wild, unbridled and scary, its tempestuous sibling cannot be beat.

1. F30 BMW 3 Series

This was the first name that was penned on the list, and for very good reason – the 3er has always been a personal favourite, but this one has been the trick from the moment I drove it at its international drive eight years ago. Coming in from the unyielding approach of the E90, the sixth-gen did everything just right.

Alright, maybe not everything. The interior wasn’t much to shout at, conservative in its outlook and bland in its approach, and it never achieved the sophisticated refinement levels of its immediate competitors, especially when the likes of the W205 C-Class showed up.

But in every other area, it hit home runs. It looked great (it still does, even with the G20 having arrived) and was a delight to drive, continuing to be the benchmark in the segment, with turbocharging and newfound compliance expanding its breadth and scope in the right direction.

Most of all, it remained a delight to drive from start to finish of its life cycle, growing in sophistication from the initial 328i right until the 330i and 330e hybrid at the very end. A winner? For sure.