The Best Cars reviewed in 2016

2016 has been another remarkable year in the domestic Automotive scene, and we’ve had the privilege to test drive and review plenty of interesting new models and a really special one..

To mark the year, we would like to highlight the top five models we’ve tried and tested in 2016. The top five list is in no particular order and they’ve been thoroughly test drive by our Senior Writer, Greg Yang, with a few thoughts from Yours truly. Some of great models worth mentioning on this list that didn’t make the top five were: the Audi Q7, Mazda CX-3, Porsche Cayenne, Lexus RX 200t F Sport and more.

Our top-five car reviewed list through the year starts with the Lexus IS200t F Sport, which comes in at number five. The Lexus IS200t F Sport is all that and more in a tight package that marries racy design cues with the quiet elegance of Japanese fit and finish at its finest. Weighing in at RM297,800.00, for the base Lexus IS 200t Premium. The top-tiered IS 300h Hybrid tips the scales at a lofty RM452,100.00. The IS 200t F Sport, tried and tested by us, has a listed price of RM384,900.00. Updated for 2015, the new range of IS variants have undergone many key improvements to make it an even better proposition for the well-heeled. With little to no changes made to the already beautifully sculpted exterior and interior of the original 2013 variants, the main tell-tale sign of a more potent motor within the engine bay is but a little “IS 200t” insignia on the trunk lid of the car to indicate the power that resides within.

Perodua Bezza, the first compact sedan from National carmakers, ranks fourth on our list. Perodua has finally pulled the plug and laid to rest all speculation to reveal the Bezza, the first ever sedan to roll out of the country’s most successful local automotive player’s production plant. Not to be confused with any Japanese derivative, the Bezza is an all-local effort, based off the Axia platform, developed in-house at the tune of RM300m no less.

There are many subtle hues of the Axia present in the Bezza; after all, they are literally two peas from the same proverbial pod. Having said that, Perodua has done truly extensive differentiation to make the Bezza stand out so as to carve a niche for itself. The top of the line Bezza Advance, we’ve tested, gets a whole host of goodies usually found in higher segment cars, and usually from non-national marques. Dual VVT-i and Eco Idle (idle stop) join VSC (vehicle stability control), front passenger seat belt alert (standard models only come with driver seat alert), keyless entry and push start system, remote trunk release, leather upholstery and a touch screen multimedia navigation unit with reverse camera.

Under the hood, the Bezza’s 1.0-liter engine can churn 67hp @ 6,000rpm and 91Nm @ 4,400rpm; just about adequate for the 865kg Bezza Standard G 5MT (base manual model). Of course, the Bezza Advance, being top-of-the-line and all, is fitted with a 1.3-liter 1NR-VE Dual VVT-i powerplant that puts out a healthy 94hp @ 6,000rpm and 121Nm @ 4,000rpm.

On the number three list is the MX-5, the iconic roadster from Mazda. Compact, lightweight with robust mechanicals and a fun spirit, the MX-5 captured more than a million new owners throughout the years, earning it the reputation of being the best-selling twin –seat convertible roadster in the world.

The fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 remains true to the original spirit of its predecessors by remaining largely the same size as the three generations before it. It also holds true to its original FR layout (front engined, rear-wheel driven design). Aside from its dimensional affinities with its forebears, the fourth-gen MX-5 (codenamed ND) is all new, inside and out. Mechanicals and chassis are all new, sporting the latest developments from Mazda’s SKYACTIV platform in keeping in line with the rest of the lineup.

The latest SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter inline DOHC engine is featured here, in a longitudinal position to drive the rear wheels. Said engine whips up 158hp @ 6,000rpm and 200Nm of torque at 4,000rpm to drive a lightweight 1.08 tons of vehicle mass, offering plenty of fun behind the wheel in spite of its sub-200hp powerplant. A 6-speed automatic SKYACTIV-DRIVE cog-shifter offers enough range to take advantage of the engine’s powerband without perceivable lag in between gears.

Volkswagen Vento makes number four on our list as our senior writer deemed it the Best-in-Class ever. The Vento is a B-segment contender but it performs and behaves unlike any other competitor in that category, according to Greg. “Right from the moment that I got behind the wheel, the quality is typical of most VWs that we’ve ever tested; solid, well-built with tight tolerances and tastefully executed. The familiar VW family DNA was ever present, and in a good way too. Ergonomically, everything was within easy reach and placed logically,” Greg commented.

Volkswagen Malaysia has managed to offer the Vento Highline at such a competitively low price (RM93,888 before insurance) without sacrificing key features usually only found in cars of a higher segment. Headlining features include 4 airbags, 5-star ASEAN NCAP safety rating, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), ABS, Intelligent Crash Response System (ICRS), cruise control, remote-operated power windows (up and down), one-touch power windows (all), tilt and telescopic multi-function leather steering wheel, cooled glove box compartment, rear split 60:40 folding seats, height adjustable headlights, “Climatronic” climate control system; the list goes on.

No.1 on our top five list for 2016

McLaren 650S, a special one indeed, was reviewed by Greg on a special occasion courtesy of Auto Britannia (McLaren Malaysia) in April. It isn’t often that one gets to experience the thrills and spills behind the wheel of one of the most iconic Supercar marques in contemporary motoring history. Born and bred in Surrey, England, McLaren is one of the last vestiges of a once dominant motoring nation that prides itself in delivering quality craftsmanship above anything else alongside hallmarks like Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin, Land-Rover, MG and its ilk.

The 650S is based on MP4-12C and shares three quarters of its parts with the predecessor. It was first introduced to the public at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show. Featuring the same carbon-fiber reinforced polymer chassis, the 650S begets the M838T powerhouse from the MP4-12C, developing 641bhp @ 7,250rpm and 678Nm of gut wrenching torque @ 6,000rpm via its 8 cylinders in a V configuration, sporting twin turbochargers.

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