December 19, 2014 @ 07:13 PM

Friday Fives: CAR’s writer picks the Top 5 tested in 2014

Writer Arvind Kumar counts down his top 5 most memorable cars of 2014

Writer Arvind Kumar counts down his top 5 most memorable cars of 2014

In my opinion, 2014 has been a year filled with many trials and tribulations. From our nation healing and rebuilding its faith after the shocking loss of two jetliners to a collection of nations successfully landing a spacecraft on a comet (and Kim Kardashian breaking the internet), yes 2014 has been remarkable year indeed. Heck, this time last year I wasn’t even a writer. But as far as cars go, the criteria have always been the same for me – character, ability, soundtrack and style.

Not always in that order, but these are the cars that have been the most memorable cars I have driven - Class Of 2014. I don’t expect you to share similar sentiments, but if you don’t then great – it means you too have an opinion and care to investigate beyond what the brochures will tell you.

No. 5
Isuzu D-Max 3.0L V-Cross Safari

Well it’s a diesel truck. But I have yet to drive another that is so well rounded and oozes so much talent. The D-Max is the truck that wants to be a car, and then wants you to pet it and take it home. Candy orange paint, brawny styling, well-built interior and a boom-box stereo all for RM115k. Plus it’s fuel efficient and built on mechanicals that will survive world-wars – what’s not to like.

Honorable fifth place mention: Renault Fluence

Chevrolet Malibu

Sometimes having no expectations can be better, I had none for the Malibu and merely appraised it for what it is… oh yes was I surprised. Acres of space, good build quality, surefooted handling and comfort levels on par with the best the Japanese can offer. But the best thing about the Malibu is definitely its soundtrack. The 2.4-litre inline-four sounds mellow in the lower rev ranges but once you clip the 4000rpm mark on the tacho, it evolves into a menacing, mechanical growl… simply superb. It could use a better infotainment for circa RM153k though but still ample value for your money.

So close to fourth place: Mazda Biante

No. 3
Peugeot 508 SW GT

You can’t have a Top 5 without some station wagon coolness thrown into the mix. Why the 508 SW GT, because it’s every car you will ever need – best  in class boot space, superb styling, brilliant interior and a 10-speaker philharmonic orchestra for entertainment. And that’s before you sample the 450Nm of torque bamboozled by the 2.2-litre turbo diesel. This car is the HULK in a stretched Bruce Banner suit.

Or it could have been: Proton Iriz

No. 2
Honda Jazz

If there was one car that blew-me-away this year… this is it. It’s got so many things going for it - a reasonable price tag (finally!), quiet and frugal engine, a sublime CVT gearbox and an interior that performs witchcraft to store anything from sandals to surfboards. However, the X-factor of the new Jazz is the way it drives – nimble and zesty yet compliant and poised. And the Jazz will do it all while wearing a smile on its face.

No. 1
Subaru WRX

Turbocharged, All-Wheel Drive, 267bhp, 350Nm and black-magic Vehicle Dynamics Control… need I say more. But what’s that – it’s tacked to a CVT auto? That’s what I thought too, until you drive the new WRX and realise how the gearbox orchestrates the entire symphony. As a package, I would say it’s the best compact sports sedan Japan has ever produced. Plus it drives like a dream and makes the hairs on your neck stand once the boost gauge reads 1.56bar. Forget the Audi A3 or Merc CLA 200 - those two are sterile compared to the WRX.

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