Thursday, December 26, 2013
Top 5 Picks for 2013
Fifty—that’s how many new cars were launched in 2013; and that number is certainly on the conservative side. So picking the best five among the newly launched is a hard task, but one that we’ve been doing for the last two years (2012, 2011). As always, we only have two rules to be eligible for CarGuide.PH’s Top Picks of the Year: first, we should have driven it and second, it must be mainstream—so don’t expect to see cars selling above PHP 6-million to appear in this list.
Let’s get it on for CarGuide.PH’s Top Picks of 2013. The list begins, in preferential order, after the break.
#5: Hyundai Accent CRDi
Why we chose it: It’s amazing what a difference an engine can do. After countlessly teased, the Hyundai Accent CRDi finally made it to showrooms in 2013, and boy, the wait was worth it. The more lifestyle-oriented body style is a great start, but the main differentiator is the 128 horsepower, 260 Nm of torque courtesy of diesel motor. Not only does it blow other sub-compacts out of the water with its sheer muscle, it achieves up to 29.41 km/L (from personal experience). It may not be an enthusiast’s first choice, but it’s easily an excellent Point A to Point B car with all the toys to make you feel comfortable and safe. The only suggestion for improvement? A different radio.
Review here and here.
#4: Toyota Vios 1.5 G
Why we chose it: You’ve probably memorized the blurbs by now: “Start the Fun”, “Waku-Doki”, “Fun to Drive”—but the most important thing to remember is that the all-new Toyota Vios lives up to the hype. On paper, it seems Toyota concentrated on the sheet metal rather than the drivetrain (the Vios carries over its engine and platform from before); but in reality, the change between generations is astounding. As a driver, it’s sportier, more refined, and more comfortable than ever before (seems a bit of the 86 magic is rubbing on other Toyota cars). The Vios actually likes to corner now and the drivetrain coarseness is gone. As a passenger, it’s roomier (well, at least for those in front) and plushier with better materials and more convenience features.
#3: Lexus IS 350
Why we chose it: Beating the Germans at their game is by no means an easy task, but that’s exactly what the Lexus IS did, and thus its place in this list. Lexus was so confident about the all-new IS that they actually invited the press to test it side by side not just with the old IS but with its direct competition, a week before the launch! And their gambit is successful. The Lexus IS has single-handedly turned the sports sedan status quo on its head with its edgy styling and knock-your-socks-off handling prowess. And who can’t fall in love with the 306 horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine. Above all, Lexus has turned up the value factor by undercutting its rivals in terms of price while equipping the IS with everything they’ve got including Star Trek-style LFA gauges.
Why we chose it: There are only a handful of cars that can make a statement and one such car is the Mazda6. Mazda is well-aware that the previous generation lacked a definable character, so they wanted to eliminate any vagueness with the all-new model. That’s why all of the terms Mazda has been spouting for the past few years: KODO—Soul of Motion, Takeri, Skyactiv—were all folded into the recipe for the all-new Mazda6. The resulting car is razor-sharp in focus with an intensely-styled body, clean looking interior, excellent appointments, and great value. On the road, the 6 is fantastic with its 2.5-liter motor providing ample thrust and a chassis that’s well-balanced and fun through all but the tightest of corners. It’s also proof of Mazda’s “Sustainable Zoom-Zoom” philosophy too, doing up to 15.65 km/L. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too?
#1: Subaru Forester
Why we chose it: If you had to pick just one car, one car to drive for the entire year in Manila, the Subaru Forester is your best choice. Larger, roomier, and better built than any of the Foresters before it, the all-new model is also faster, more capable, and more economical too. Figures don’t lie: 220 mm of ground clearance and 500 mm of water wading depth make it more flood-proof than other crossovers and then add a 0-100 km/h time of 6.2 seconds, a top speed in excess of 225 km/h (in Sport Sharp) for the XT, and double-digit fuel economy, figures shaming some sports cars. It’s now brimming with tech and convenience features such as the X-Mode AWD system, Harman/Kardon sound system, and power tailgate. Though the trademark hood scoop has bitten the dust, the Subaru Forester XT is still every inch the track and trail fiend in grocery getter clothing. And hey, the 2.0 i-L is pretty solid value too!
Review here and here.