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Is it really the end of 2023 already? How did that happen so fast?? Well, it's time once again to review my year in cars and whittle down everything I have driven into a short list of five of my top picks.
Now some of these vehicles might be surprising and I am sure people will disagree with a couple of choices, but they are the most enjoyable to me, for different reasons.
There are no rules about models having to have launched in 2023 to be on this list. It's literally a list of my personal favourites that I drove in the past 12 months - in alphabetical order. Let's get to it shall we?
Let's start with a car that a lot of people might never have heard of. In fact, most people have never heard of. Yes it's an odd pick, but the Citroen C5 X is a delightfully odd car.
Launched in Australia in late 2022, the C5 X is a mechanical twin of the forthcoming Peugeot 408. It's a long liftback, but also a wagon and sort of an SUV-crossover type model. It looks like nothing else on the road, which is a big plus for me.
As expected from a Citroen, it has a silky smooth ride. The four-pot turbo petrol engine delivers 133kW/250Nm which, while not breathtaking, still makes for a fun drive as the C5 X is lighter than you'd think. And the stylish interior is much more high end than its $57,670 before on-roads price-tag would suggest.
An underrated gem in a sea of same-again SUVs.
What an absolute joy of a car to drive. Honda is on a serious hot streak at the moment (keep reading for further proof) and the first new model to launch as part of its completely refreshed range was the 11th-generation Civic.
And while the petrol-powered Civic is a good (albeit pricey) car, it's the hybrid-powered e:HEV LX grade that shines as not only the pick of the mainstream Civic range (excluding the brilliant Type R hot hatch), but also as one of the picks of the small-car segment, regardless of price or badge.
A refined, spacious and flexible cabin, and generous standard features list for its $55,000 drive-away price tag, elevates the Civic hybrid to the top of the small-car pack.
And the hot streak continues. Following on from the excellent ZR-V mid-size SUV (which I considered putting on this list too, but three Hondas is a bit much), the sixth-generation CR-V arrived late in the year with a much bigger footprint than the previous model.
But it hasn't just grown in size - the new CR-V marked a significant improvement in virtually every area over what was a pretty solid family SUV.
The new-gen model looks great and has a more refined, classy interior than the old model, and now it comes packed with features. Line it up spec for spec against its rivals, and take into account the fact that it has drive-away pricing across the board and an unbeatable capped-price servicing program (it's just $199 per service for five years), the CR-V quickly rises to the top.
The new hybrid hero grade is the pick of the range (the 1.5L is also top notch). The CR-V is back and it's better than ever!
But for me out of all of Benz's electric range, the EQE300 Sedan is the pick. It is the range opener for the BMW i4 rival and starts at about $135,000. You can get a quicker and more high-end grade in the AMG EQE53 from $215k, but why bother?
Admittedly, I am still not 100 per cent sold on Mercedes' EQ design direction. The EQE sedan is giving 'egg on wheels'. But after driving the EQS sedan and more recently the EQE350 SUV, the entry-grade 300 Sedan is the winner thanks to a supple ride, brisk acceleration and the fact that you genuinely don't need to spend any more money than this for an exceptional electric sedan.
This was the easiest choice for me this year. The third-gen 308 hatch and wagon arrived in late 2022 but I became acquainted with the GT Premium hatch in mid-2023 because I lived with it as my long-term press car for almost four months.
At $48,990 for this grade, it's not cheap, but it doesn't need to be. The Pug is jam packed with standard gear that you'd find in a much pricier luxury car. Massaging seats anyone?
It is an absolute stunner, especially in the Olivine Green of my press car, and it has a beautifully crafted interior.
But it's on the road where the 308 shines. This car put a smile on my face every single time I got behind the wheel. The peppy 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo engine is a sweetie and the 308 is light and chuckable.
My partner and I were both genuinely sad to say goodbye to this little gem.