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Richard Berry's Top 5 cars of 2023: From the MG4 to the Porsche Cayman GT4 RS

The Porsche Cayman GT4 RS was Richard Berry pick of 2023

This year was different. Good different. The Aussie car landscape started to change noticeably as more and more electric cars were introduced, some from brands none of us may have considered before.

At the same time the more established car makers were launching both electric and combustion vehicles.

We're now living in what appears to be the start of an era when cars propelled by both fire and electricity are existing together.

And for however short this cohabitation lasts, before one leaves the other in the past I'm here for it - the choice has never been better. But I had to decide on five. Five of the standout cars for me from 2023.

5. BMW i7

An electric powertrain has given the 7 Series the transfusion it’s needed and the i7 is a beautifully modern rolling artwork.

The 7 Series is the grandfather clock of BMWs - it's overly large, distinguished and to most people completely unnecessary given that there are smaller cars that do that same job just as well. But an electric powertrain has given the 7 Series the transfusion it's needed and the i7 is a beautifully modern rolling artwork.

The i7 xDrive60 M Sport I tested lists for $307,900 and comes with auto opening doors, an enormous theatre screen for passengers in the back and LED lighting around the enormous grille.

Really though, the best part of the i7 is that it's electric. Two motors making a colossal 400kW and 750Nm don't just give the i7 brutal acceleration, but also provide the impossibly quiet and smooth experience that suits a 7 Series limousine perfectly and something a combustion engine could never properly achieve.

I loved it, apart from the auto doors which popped open on a motorway at one point when somebody's knee bumped the button.

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4. Nissan X-Trail e-Power

We compared the X-Trail e-Power with Toyota’s RAV4 Hybrid and Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV and although it didn’t win as best hybrid, it was the most comfortable to drive with outstanding practicality.

The X-Trail e-Power is a different take on a hybrid - in this case a three-cylinder petrol engine with the sole purpose of just powering a generator to produce electricity for the X-Trail's two motors. Nissan calls the hybrid system e-Power.

We compared the X-Trail e-Power with Toyota's RAV4 Hybrid and Mitsubishi's Outlander PHEV and although it didn't win as best hybrid (the RAV4 and Outlander were more fuel efficient) it was the most comfortable to drive with outstanding practicality.

That drive comfort had a lot to do with the all-wheel-drive system Nissan calls e-4orce which works with the suspension to keep the body of the vehicle flat and stable when braking, accelerating and cornering. That means no whiplash effect when pulling up at the lights suddenly or when you accelerate away again.

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3.  MG4

The MG4 is a game-changing vehicle - it's not only one of the most affordable electric cars around with its list price starting at ,990, but it’s superb to drive.

Third place in my top five was difficult for me to pick - it was either the fully electric version of the little Fiat 500, called the 500e, or the latest EV hatch from MG - the MG4.

But as much as I was wowed by the cute 500e, which seemed to find its perfect match in an electric powertrain, it had to be the MG4.

The MG4 is a game-changing vehicle - it's not only one of the most affordable electric cars around with its list price starting at $38,990, but it's superb to drive.

I drove the mid-level Essence grade with the 64kWh battery with a range of 435kW (WLTP) and a 0-100km/h time of 7.2 seconds.

The MG4's a good looking hatch with great practicality, a comfortable ride and surprisingly good dynamic ability - oh and brilliant value for money.

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2. BMW M3 Touring

The M3 Touring went into production last year and arrived in Australia in 2023.

The BMW M3 is the official answer to the meaning of life for an enormous number of car enthusiasts. And unless the Large Hadron Collider comes up with a better reason for my existence soon then I may just join them. If only the M3 was more practical, you know, how good would a station wagon version be - a BMW M3 Touring, perhaps.

And just like that the M3 Touring went into production last year and arrived in Australia in 2023.

Actually, the M3 almost wasn't made in right-hand drive, but when thousands of Australian, British and Japanese fans took to the streets (well almost) BMW relented and built versions with the steering wheel on the other side just for us.

Yes, now we can have our 510 horsepower M3 animal with its 3.0-litre inline twin-turbo six and 500 litres of cargo capacity, too.

Sure, there are electric cars half the cost of its $180K price tag with 0-100km/h times faster than the M3's 3.6 seconds, but can they handle this well? Do they sound this good? No and absolutely no.

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1.Porsche Cayman GT4 RS

My hearing still hasn't fully returned after testing one of the most angry Porsches ever made for the road - the 718 Cayman GT4 RS and my number one car for 2023.

Sorry? What? My hearing still hasn't fully returned after testing one of the most angry Porsches ever made for the road - the 718 Cayman GT4 RS and my number one car for 2023.

The result of Porsche engineers joking around when they should have been working, the GT4 RS came about when the head of Porsche's R&D wondered out loud what would happen if they put their biggest engine from their most brutal vehicles into one of their smallest cars.

And that's exactly what they did. The 4.0-litre flat six from Porsche's 911 GT3 was squished into the back of a Cayman and given to the Porsche R&D head as a birthday present. He loved it so much he declared that Porsche fans should get one for their birthday, too, provided they paid AUD$311,900 for it.

Faster than the 911 GT3, which donated its own heart, the GT4 RS also has handling and responsiveness so spookily good it should be visited by paranormal investigators.

Faster than the 911 GT3, which donated its own heart, the GT4 RS also has handling and responsiveness so spookily good it should be visited by paranormal investigators.

Having driven Porsche's future with the electric Taycan and piloted the present with this GT4 RS I can say that while EVs are most certainly quicker and in some cases just as dynamic, they will never be able to bring the visceral feeling of an open throttle roar that adds so much to the experience of driving a sports car like this.

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Richard Berry
Senior Journalist
Richard had wanted to be an astrophysicist since he was a small child. He was so determined that he made it through two years of a physics degree, despite zero...
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