The Best Cars of 2018!

clifford chow
19 Dec 2018
 

The Skoda Kodiaq may have won the Car of the Year award this year, but it was a hard fight with other makes. Here is a look at the other cars that have won in their respective categories!

WINNER: PREMIUM SUV - LEXUS RX 350 L

A longer RX350 means it can carry more, and it does. Now able to do more with capacity for 7, the RX 350 L takes versatility up a few notches. Build quality as expected from a Lexus is very good.

Instead of extending the wheelbase to fit more seats, Lexus instead extended the rear end, meaning lower cost of build, since even the rear doors are not affected by the added length.

On the inside, quality is evident. Wood veneer accents, leather and quality frosted silver plastic trim align well giving a sense that they will stand the test of time.

While it has AWD, the RX 350 L delivers a front-biased drive, which means safe understeering characteristics. In a time where engines are shrinking and being force-fed, it is actually quite refreshing to have a natural-breathing V6 up in front, delivering the power.

While the RX can carry seven, it actually works better as a 5+2 seater. Front and middle rows offer up very good passenger accommodation, just like its non-extended sibling, while rear seats are comfortable enough, with enough legroom for the kids.

Read the full review here!

WINNER: COMPACT PREMIUM SUV - VOLVO XC40 T5 R-DESIGN

We love how Volvo went ahead boldly and upholstered their new compact SUV with an orange carpet. The XC40 is their first attempt at building a "real" compact-sized SUV, and it is daringly different! The T5 is the more powerful of two engine choices (the T4 version has less power and is Front-driven), and it also means that the Swedish brand’s compact SUV drives with four wheels. Acceleration is impressive with a 6.4 second century sprint.

In R-Design trim, the XC40 also gets a distinct black roof, which complements the car’s quirky, angular styling. Build quality is top-notch, with the best interior fit and finish in this segment.

Volvo had also included an “Off-Road” mode, which allows you to take this chic SUV, built for the urban jungle out onto paths less travelled.

Safety is as with all Volvos a priority, and the XC40’s suite, which includes Oncoming Lane Mitigation, Run-off Road Protection System, City Safety with Full Auto Brake and Pedestrian, Cyclist and Large Animal Detection, all of which are world-first features in a car, adds another invisible layer of safety for drivers.

Read the full review here!

WINNER: COMPACT SUV - SEAT ATECA XCELLENCE

From its edgy styling, its luxuriously appointed interior and its rigid MQB platform, the SEAT Ateca offers a great family car with an equally great soft roading experience. Its 1.4 litre turbocharged TSI engine powers all four wheels through a quick shifting 6-speed DSG transmission.

SEAT has done a good job with working their design language onto their compact-sized SUV. Elements like its angular LED head (standard on Xcellence and FR trims) and tail lamps, sharp creases in its sheet metal, and an up-swept “D” pillar, which plays well into the downward tapering roofline, gives the car a sense of sportiness.

On the inside, there is that same sense of quality which you will normally find in German cars. The Ateca’s infotainment system also offers up connectivity through Mirror Link, Android Auto and Apple Carplay. Bluetooth connectivity is also standard, and there is a wireless charging pad for QI enabled mobile devices.

Passenger room is generous, with plenty of headroom for four adults, while boot space at 485 litres is very respectable.

The Ateca also boasts pretty sharp handling for its size, which is one thing we find impressive. Cylinder deactivation technology which activates on cruise also means better fuel savings.

Read the full review here!


WINNER: CITY-CHIC SUV - SEAT ARONA FR

What is ‘City-Chic’ to us? How about a small car, fashionable in looks, and in this case, also a great car.

The SEAT Arona, the Spanish brand’s small SUV, delivers well on build quality. Powered by a 1.0 3-cylinder turbocharged engine,and mated to a quick-shifting DSG transmission, the car is surprisingly nimble, while fuel economy is an excellent 20km/l.

Built on Volkswagen Group’s MQB-A0 architecture, shared with cars like the Seat Ibiza and Skoda Fabia, the tiny SEAT’s distinct styling, including two-tone paint treatment; coupled with aggressively-penned head and tail lamps, certainly makes it a head turner.

On the inside, there is a sense of German build quality, and almost does not feel Spanish at all. Little touches like having the infotainment system tilted slightly to the driver, makes reading the system easier. Full on colour, and easy to pick from the menu, with touch screen function selectors flanking the display. Mobile connectivity is available by Bluetooth, and also features Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink.

While it is a crossover, the Arona displays very little roll around the bends, there is a very positive feel from the steering and handling is pretty sharp.

Read the full review here!

WINNER: COMPACT PERFORMANCE HATCH - RENAULT MEGANE RS

Out of nowhere, Renault takes the hot hatch game so much further. Megane RS is the only one in its class to feature 4-wheel steering, which tremendously sharpens the car's handling. Just as impressive, its potent 1.8 litre turbocharged engine punches out an impressive 280bhp and 390 Nm of torque.

And talk about crazy within crazy, Renault also introduced its new suspension, which features hydraulic compression stops in its dampers… essentially a damper, within a damper. The second damper aids in dissipating additional energy before the bump stop at the end of the damper is hit, ensuring that the wheels are not affected by any form of jolting.

Forget faux piped in car noise, the RS now features a resonator in the boot cavity, which amplifies the actual engine noise, just to add a little more bark into a car that bites this hard.

Read the full review here!

WINNER: COMPACT HATCH - VOLKSWAGEN GOLF HIGHLINE 1.4 TSI

When you combine a platform shared with the iconic Golf GTi, together with a fuel efficient 1.4 litre turbocharged engine and a quick-shifting 7-speed DSG transmission, you end up with a hatch, which delivers a slice of driver heaven. Practicality too has not taken a back seat, with a car that easily seats 4 in comfort.

Affectionately known by fans as the Golf Mk 7.5, the compact hatch offers a refined drive, an interior of very high standards. Refreshed mid-life, the Golf now features a digitised instrument panel, and an all-new infotainment system which includes gesture control.

Read the full review here!

WINNER: SUBCOMPACT HATCH - SEAT IBIZA STYLE PLUS

Light and nimble handling, good build quality and some nice levels of equipment. All the hallmarks which makes the SEAT Ibiza a very attractive buy!

Its 1.0 turbocharged Volkswagen-sourced engine works well with its 7-speed DSG gearbox. With 200 Nm of torque on-tap, the tiny hatch does not feel at all sluggish.

Angular-penned lines in its pressed sheet metal and sculpted headlamps, makes for one stylish little car.

The quality of its interior, with very good tactile feel of its buttons, does hint of something a little more expensive.

Additionally, its 8” touchscreen infotainment system is also easy to navigate, thanks to some well-placed menu buttons on the side, and supports MP3, WMA, SD Card, Bluetooth, Aux-in and Voice recognition.

The SEAT Full Link system offers Mirror Link, Android Auto and Apple Carplay connectivity to your mobile devices. At the base of the dash, there are also two USB ports sited within a container, which is ideal if you do need to charge your mobile phone.

Read the full review here!

WINNER: COMPACT SEDAN - SKODA OCTAVIA AMBITION 1.0 TSI PLUS

When space is king, the Skoda Octavia offers up plenty of it, especially for those in the rear. Boot space is excellent, and in true Skoda practicality, the Octavia's boot lid opens up in liftback style, making it easier to load and unload.

Its 1.0 turbocharged engine, together with a 7-speed DSG transmission offers easy-on-pocket day-to-day running cost, while delivering 200 Nm of people-moving torque. Ride comfort too is very good, with a generous amount of suspension travel. Perhaps the Czechs have gotten the formula right when producing a bread-and-butter family sedan… one with a liftback style bootlid.

Read the full review here!

WINNER: COMPACT STATION WAGON - VOLKSWAGEN GOLF VARIANT 1.4 R-LINE

All the good things that a 1.4 litre Golf Hatch brings... with even more utility!

The Golf Variant offers an attractive utility vehicle for those who may need a family workhorse with more space. Like the Hatch, the Golf Variant offers sharp handling, a luxurious interior and very good build quality.

Little touches like its two-stage mechanically retractable cargo cover makes an easier job of loading and unloading.

Read the full review here!

WINNER: EXECUTIVE PERFORMANCE SUV - PORSCHE CAYENNE S

Porsche's new Cayenne has got one of the prettiest dashboards in the business. Their large SUV is powered by a smooth-revving 3.0 V6 engine, which delivers 440 bhp and 550 Nm of torque.

For the first time, Porsche Surface Coated Brakes are offered, with impressive stopping power, and as a side benefit, the brake rotors present an impressive mirror-like finish with prolonged use.

Squint a little and you can see Porsche’s design DNA on their SUV, with hints of 911 styling. Like the Panamera, the Cayenne boasts one of the best built interiors available, and they have also included their virtual button panel with haptic feedback.

It may be quick, but it is practical too, with 770 litres of cargo room readily available.

Read the full review here!

WINNER: EXECUTIVE PERFORMANCE CAR - BMW M5

BMW broke with tradition by introducing 4WD into the new M5, but if it is anything, it isn't anything sacrilegious at all. The new car does such a fine job of putting its power down onto the tarmac, and easily redefines the executive commute to and from the office... with a small detour to Sepang.

The new drive system is rear-biased, and delivers a drive almost like a rear-wheel drive only car. How is that to keep your fanbase happy?

Under the hood, a potent 4.4 litre V8 twin-turbocharged engine spins out an excellent 591bhp and 750Nm of twist. In keeping the car light, the M5 does not come with a sunroof option, since its roof is built out of carbon fibre.

Read the full review here!

WINNER: PERFORMANCE COUPE - PORSCHE 911 CARRERA T

Carrera T is built for the purist at heart. With Porsche's mad obsession of building sports cars with the heavy bit at the rear, the Carrera T feels balanced.

The car has been further lightened by thinning of the windows and a reduction of insulation. Even the door pulls have been replaced by cords.

Perhaps you could call this the Carrera… that really wants to be a GT3?

Read the full review here!

WINNER: LARGE LUXURY SEDAN - AUDI A8 L

Audi's flagship sedan stands toe-to-toe with its other German and Japanese counterparts. Loaded with tech and very impressive safety features, the new A8 also has a commanding road presence.

In a place like Singapore, where there are a good number of narrow carparks, since real estate is at a premium, the A8’s 4-wheel steering is truly a plus, in ensuring that the large limo easily negotiated tight spaces like cars way smaller than it is.

Styling-wise, the A8 is very pretty to look at. Elegant lines and what Audi calls “Quattro Arches“ brings about a lovely stance. Its party piece, is its power up and down sequence displayed at the tail lamps.

On the inside, their flagship utilises two touchscreens to work its infotainment system, and other comfort-related functions. Both screens are spring-loaded, providing users with haptic feedback.

Read the full review here!

WINNER: COMPACT ELECTRIC CAR - RENAULT ZOE

With cheeky-looking face, the Renault Zoe is the French manufacturer's effort in making the world a little greener. Its small footprint and surprisingly good handling makes this quite a fun car to be in.

Engineered with the new Z.E. 40 battery, the New Renault ZOE delivers a real-world range of up to 315km. That’s the longest driving range for mass market EV passenger vehicles in Singapore.

Read the full review here!

WINNER: COMPACT EXECUTIVE SEDAN - SKODA SUPERB LAURIN AND KLEMENT 2.0 TSI

We certainly appreciated the amount of thought that has gone into building the Skoda Superb. At almost 5 metres long, the Czech brand's flagship offers a massive boot at 625 litres, with a liftback style tailgate for easy access.

A long wheelbase also means excellent legroom at the rear, which rivals cars larger than its class. Ride comfort too is hard to beat, with their Dynamic Chassis Control sorting the bumps on the road; and we can dare say, the Superb rides more comfortably than cars way above its class.

Truly a sensible luxury car if you might ask, and luxurious where it matters.

Read the full review here!

SPECIAL MENTIONS

BEST COMEBACK - ALFA ROMEO GIULIA VELOCE

Alfa Romeo is back for real. The new Giulia features all the good things you would expect from the Italian brand. Ferrari engineers descended onto the company to help build a sub-supercar with four-doors.

A longitudinally-mounted engine set a little backward from the front axle together with a rear-mounted transmission for better balance. Lightweight carbon fibre driveshafts are utilised to shave off a little more weight.

The Giulia also makes all the right noises, while it delivers such a lovely drive. Welcome back Alfa Romeo!

Read the full review here!

BEST FOR WORK & PLAY - AUDI RS 4 AVANT

Audi has a thing for estate cars. Perhaps going a little left-of-field is actually a cool thing. We love how versatility meets performance.

The RS 4 Avant is such a unique offering in its class. Powered by a 2.9 litre V6 and driving all four wheels, and capable of delivering your groceries after a day out at Sepang... who could ask for more!

Read the full review here!

THRILL SEEKERS CHOICE - SEAT LEON CUPRA 290

Spanish manufacturer, SEAT went a little crazy with the power in their hot hatch. The Leon Cupra boasts 290 horses, and all of this is concentrated into the front wheels!

The Cupra’s turbocharged 2.0 makes 290hp, 350Nm of twist and does 100km/h in only 5.7 seconds. Acceleration feels brutal, and is tamed around the bends with an electronically-controlled Limited Slip Differential (LSD).

Read the full review here!


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