Many of us consider ourselves to be car aficionados. Some like cars for their aesthetic appeal, some go gaga over big bore V8s while others depend on the euphoria of traffic light drag races in their Golf GTIs as fuel to their self entitlement.
Okay, regardless, if you have a soft spot for cars, it’s really up to you what you do with it. For the impassioned team of AutoBuzz.my, we take great pride in dissecting new cars and telling you the good, the bad and the ugly. You must be wondering, with the keys to dozens of new cars every year, just which one would we actually buy?
Honestly, most of us here find it difficult to decide. In fact, this conundrum is shared with other industry colleagues as well. So we thought we’d make it simpler and put together a list of the best cars each one of us has driven all year. Now, without further ado:
As the successor to the hugely popular and adored 458 Italia, the 488 GTB has got a lot to live up to, especially after news broke out that it was going to be turbocharged. But the Italian chefs at Maranello really know what they’re cooking, so let’s trust in that.
To be brutally honest, I wasn’t quite fond of it when I first drove the car. The team asked if I liked it, and I actually said… “Meh”. Yes, I know. In the high court of the Ferrari Fan Club, I would be sent to the gallows, serving my death sentence. But do hear me out.
The feeling was completely reversed the next day. (Yes I had it for a few days. I’m a lucky bastard, am I not?) Throwing it around tight corners, going up and down hill through the snakiest of roads; that was when it all made sense to me.
The 488 was remarkably easy to drive and forgiving in many, many ways. But with 660 horses right behind my head, I expected it to be a tad more mental than this. It however, turned out to be very clever and predictable. And, that’s the beauty of it! Any carmaker can drop in a powerful engine under the hood, but to actually engineer it to a level where it makes just about anyone feel like Michael Schumacher, that’s something else.
This car is a proof that the Germans do have sense of humour. Come on, 381 hp and 475 Nm from a 2.0-litre four-cylinder? And they’ve stuffed it in a range of compact cars with different body styles to suit different types of buyers.
I love cars that could make me giggle within a few metres down the road, and driving the AMG CLA 45 is quite amusing. I try so hard to contain a silly grin on my face every time it rockets out of a toll booth gate, and I kept making excuses just to go for a short spin, even though if it’s just for a quick trip to the sundry shop for a loaf of bread.
A full tank would barely last me one and a half trip to my favourite B-road, but it’s worth every sen filling it up with RON 97. Yes, running it isn’t cheap, but it offers big car thrills for a fraction of the price (and size). And they said the next generation of AMG 45 cars will have at least 400 hp from the same engine. Insane…
Travis Chang – Ford Focus 1.5L EcoBoost
To most people, the 10th generation Honda Civic is perhaps their go-to choice for the most preferred car for 2016. Other C-Segment cars have since been relegated to the second division, including this praiseworthy hatch from Ford.
I chuckle every time the Focus dances through a series of black ribbons. This experience is made better with the adequately powerful and responsive turbocharged engine. Power delivery is simply effortless. Drive it over any terrain, rain or shine, the Focus remains comfortable as it is planted on the roads. Cabin insulation is also unbelievably impressive. Despite being grossly overlooked, its unrivalled driving dynamics is the single biggest reason why the Focus is the best car I’ve driven in 2016.
Dominic Yee – Mazda MX-5
Driving has always been something fun for me as opposed to taking a high performance car to the track. The quick accelerations and the way it handles are the makings of a true car, to me at least.
The fourth-generation Mazda MX5 is everything that encapsulates that, if not more. It’s an amazingly fun car to drive especially with the top down. Blasting up the winding roads and feeling the dewey breeze of dawn on the weekend makes one feel free – to run wild and free, as they say.
It’s explicitly engaging to drive, beautiful (thanks to the Kodo design) and feels almost like an extension of your body. This is why the Mazda MX5 is the best car I’ve driven in 2016.
The Renault Megane R.S 265 Sport is an amazing machine that makes absolutely no sense. Six-speed manual, 265 hp, two doors and comfortable damping. It’s quick off the line, rapid around the bends yet manages Klang Valley’s notoriously potholed roads. The whole car is unlike anything I’ve ever driven this year.
Never mind the RM199k price tag, never mind the spartan spec (it doesn’t even come with keyless entry), nor the difficult clutch (long travel, short bite point), because the smile on my face when blasting through a stretch of empty B-road is all the reason I need for this to be the best car I’ve driven in all of 2016.
Chung Yi-Shen – Volvo XC90 T8 Inscription
As the only SUV of the lot, this Volvo is definitely the biggest, but not the slowest.
With 407 bhp and 640 Nm of torque on tap, it is capable of a sub-6.0 second century sprint. That well toned Nordic derrière is what most German sedans on the market would see if you have a naughty right foot. And you get to enjoy all that stonking performance in a sumptuous, airy cabin of open pore wood and supple Nappa leather. Similarly priced German interiors are all about fit and finish, but this Volvo is about style and finesse.
There’s also a huge central screen that swipes like an iPad, with big, easy to tap icons. Physical buttons are not missed here, at all. If you plug it to the mains at malls (real world electric range of 30km is entirely possible), you can glide home in near silence with a full view of the starry sky, courtesy of the panoramic sunroof.
But that’s not even the best part. Everyone, including the driver, can enjoy a magic carpet ride of a different level with the intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control and Pilot Assist – with just one push of a button and the car will basically brave through the worst traffic jams for you with utter grace and poise.
Please. Make more cars, Volvo.
This year has been nothing short of surreal. I’ve had the honour of driving the Audi R8 V10 Plus, Ferrari California T, 488 GTB and a host of other copiously powerful cars. Though they’re each distinctly rewarding to drive in their own rights, nothing beats the holistic driving experience behind the wheel of this mid-engined British sports car.
Most modern supercars, although brutally quick, are severely pacified with electronic aids. They can be perfect when driven around the track at breakneck speeds (where you don’t have to worry about other motorists), but I genuinely don’t wield the skills required to properly handle cars with such ferocity. My dear friend Aswan penned an insightful piece about learning to walk before you run, which is precisely what the Elise is all about.
It’s unthinkable that a car nearly 10 times cheaper than the Ferrari 488 GTB could administer such grotesque levels of adrenaline at half the speed. The more I drove the Elise, the greater the affection I have for it. Every shortcoming – such as ingress and egress, being blinded by a tailing vehicle at night and to constantly be within another car’s blind spot – is easily compensated by the elating rawness and purity of the drive. It’s been a week since the Elise and I have parted ways. Every passing day since has become a battle against withdrawals. God I miss it.
Today, we at AutoBuzz.my would like to give thanks to everyone for the overwhelming support, especially from our dearest readers, YouTube subscribers, industry players and media friends. You are all part of the reason why we enjoy what we do, and we look forward to bringing you more entertaining – but no less informative – content next year.