OneShift Car Of The Year: The Best Cars Of 2023
We are excited to share with you the results of OS COTY 2023! But first, we have to acknowledge that 2023 has been a rather challenging year for Singapore car enthusiasts - COE prices hit a peak of almost $160k (Cat E) in October, before plunging down to around $125k after the government vowed to bring forward quotas from the future to ‘even out’ the COE cycle.
Although it’s not the first time the government has implemented this measure, it’s certainly unprecedented if you zoom out and take a bird’s eye view of the COE system. What this means is that we can expect future troughs to be a lot shallower as well, so be prepared for more expensive COEs than previous troughs even during the supposed high COE supply period, which should start from 2024 onwards.
Despite this, unwavering enthusiasm from car brands has hardly dampened - in fact, they have introduced many interesting new models this year. For example, more mass market EVs have entered the Cat A market, which certainly is a wise move and a trend we will likely to see more of going forward because of the relatively ease of tuning down an EV’s output. One of these Cat A EVs is the Hyundai Ioniq 5, worth mentioning because it is assembled in Singapore. 2023 marks the year when we see the sale of a ‘made in Singapore’ car again, and that’s some cause for celebration!
We also see more and more Chinese EV brands making a splash into the market, and this we also foresee will be a long term trend going forward. China made an early headstart into building EVs versus the rest of the world, and today they are reaping the benefits. It may be an uphill battle against these EVs from the Middle Kingdom, especially where the mass market is concerned.
In the luxury segment, we now see more and more launches where electric variants are launched simultaneously with their ICE variants (take the new 5 Series, for example). But amazingly, because of the price inelasticity of luxury, in 2023 we’ve also seen the introduction of a bumper crop of sports and super luxury cars. These cars remain a permanent feature of our roads whether you like it or not, due to our status as a financial safe haven.
In our COTY selection this year we made sure that we honoured cars that performed well in its segment, and not just in their outright performance. That’s why we have segmented our contenders not just by body style and drivetrain, but also by their market positioning.
Without further ado, we are proud to present to you the best cars of 2023. We have reserved the announcement of the Overall Winner till later in the month; make a guess which car it will be on our social channels!
With its 50:50 weight distribution and surprisingly good driving dynamics, the MG4 EV is a fun-to-drive option that’s also stylish as it is practical.
The Seal is BYD’s most mature and best product to date. It is built beautifully, has all the makings of a very complete car and is really fast, especially the Performance variant.
Our 2023 Car of the Year returns as a category winner this year, this time as a Cat A variant that is indeed very little compromise versus its Cat B sibling.
The Ioniq 5 is just a stunning car for Cat A money, and offers more avantgarde design and chic for just a bit more money than the cheapest options in the market.
EVs make sense for moving heavy loads due to their instantaneous torque, while also offering very low running and maintenance costs. The e-Partner also has a novel and very useful three-seater bench.
The EQE feels right sized for Singapore, offering the grandiosity of the EQS in a more palatable package.
The RZ takes the best of Lexus motoring and amplifies it in an EV form. It means more quietness, refinement and effortless driving.
Although commonplace in China, luxury EV MPVs are still a rarity in Singapore until the MIFA 9 came along, giving a preview of just how good these can be.
The i4 now comes with a smaller battery but is no less engaging to drive than its predecessor.
The EV6 is a sportier take on the Ioniq 5, and offers much of the goodness but with added precision.
The Q8 is as well-built as we expect a high-end Audi to be, and comes with incremental changes that altogether is a very nice update to what is already a very polished product.
The ‘wow’ factor of the new 7 Series is best experienced as an electric i7. It is a bold take on what a luxury car of the future should be, and makes a big enough statement to leave a lasting impression.
The Crosstar is tough-looking yet cheerful and practical, even if it is largely similar to the already excellent Jazz.
The Corolla Cross ticks pretty much most of the boxes of what a Singaporean family would look for in a car at the moment. Even for the driver!
The Sienta mixes utmost practicality with some refreshing eccentricity that’s just what’s needed to spice up its desirability.
Something very compact and utterly reliable, the Yaris Cross also comes in funky colours for more individuality.
The plug-in version of the new GLC has a surprising verve to the way it powers the car, engaging and - I daresay - even thrilling. Yet, it retains the trademark Mercedes ride and refinement.
The new Vellfire feels more like a Lexus today than ever before, and is quite simply one of the best ways to travel as a passenger.
If you like your back seat as much as you do the front, and spend a lot of time in the city, the Flying Spur Hybrid makes a lot of sense.
The XM is bold and some may even say vulgar, but behind the wheel, it feels like an M product. Stonking V8 is tamed by green EV-running credentials, and the whole package works well.
The 1.5-litre turbo in the Cat A Golf is surprisingly peppy, and it shows its best side when matched with the R-Line suspension and looks. A mini Golf R?
The Octavia is probably the most Skoda, umm, Skoda you can buy. Utterly practical and utterly clever.
The WRX Wagon looks great, drives superbly and deserves a shot even with a CVT gearbox, which is actually really responsive.
It’s amazing what one can find in Cat A these days, and this X1 is one of the finest examples. It is fun to drive, has impeccable build quality and looks sharp.
The Active Tourer is the more conservative one versus the X1, but is no less brilliant.
There’s hardly any car we have test driven this year that can match the sheer engagement of the GR86. Brilliant, brilliant machine.
Probably Peugeot’s most eye-catching car, the 408 is surprisingly practical, too.
Modern Diesel power is incredible - smooth, muscular and just a match for load hauling.
The Golf R is pushing the envelope in terms of handling, powertrain engagement and enthusiast appeal. It’s terrific, and I don’t mean in a clinical way either.
The base 3 Series has brilliant low-end power, so much so that you’d not really want for more on Singapore streets. It’s well-equipped, too.
This might be one of the most complete cars we’ve tested this year. You got space, a firecracker of an engine and brilliant handling.
The Grecale GT surprised us with its superb handling and engaging engine and exhaust note. You’d want to redline this thing everywhere!
This might be the sweet spot of the new 7 Series, because you get the brilliant B58 paired with one of the most futuristic cars on the road.
A wagon and an M3 used to be two very separate concepts. Putting them together is like some sort of fantasy - and it is rather compelling.
The Cayenne S’s V8 is a triumphant clarion call for ICE engines - and a true cause for celebration.
It’s pretty much the perfect sports car, with a 4.0 NA that is devastatingly effective - even though it feels a little synthesised.
The extra thought and engineering that went into the EWB variant is nothing short of amazing.
The SL 55’s brilliant dynamics make it the sportiest SL ever, by far. Yet it offers all of the glamour of open top motoring.
It’s simply bewitching to drive, finding purchase on the road where you didn’t think possible.
Fully recline in the second row and get a massage while you’re at it - need I say more?
The S-Cross may look humble, but it has the enthusiasm of a terrier dog on the road - great fun.
The detailing is a mix of automotive and fashion - and the result is spellbinding.
The space you get from this is amazing, while being affordable to run as well as you got instantaneous torque to do all of the heavy lifting.
The doors close like a bank vault and the interior is quietly luxurious. It feels like it’s hewn from solid metal!
The Captain seats in the Palisade are thoroughly enjoyable, while the alcantara headliner, dual sunroofs, Infinity sound system, parking guidance lights and individual air-con vents per passenger are all great touches.
There’s nothing much to dislike about the Good Cat, especially with what it can offer at its price point.
Batteries in EVs are a big environmental topic, so Mazda opted for a smaller battery to reduce the MX-30’s lifecycle emissions impact. Heritage cork is also so darn cool.
The Kona’s living space makes it a very user-friendly place to be - complete with buttons that just make so much sense (instead of chucking everything into a screen).
Photos by Horizon Drivers' Club, New Gen Marketing, James Wong and Joel Foo
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