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The 10th Jaguar Simola Hillclimb was a successful affair for Team Jaguar, with a total of eight podium finishes for all eight entries across various categories.

Five of the best cars we drove in 2018

2019-01-02 11:30

Sean Parker

Image: Supplied

The word of the year is toxic, the colour of the year was ultra violet and now most importantly I'll name my car of the year... well more like five cars that I found more exciting than any others in 2018. 

1. Volkswagen Touareg - In a sea of premium SUVs with snobby badges, the Touareg still manages to stand tall, 220mm high in fact.

Launched in the middle of 2018, its managed to exceed its sales target every month and it's not hard understand why. Sharing the same underpinnings with the Bentley Bentayga, Audi Q7, Lamborghini Urus and the Porsche Cayenne.

Look how many they've sold! Volkswagen's R1-million flagship Touareg is proving to be a sterling sales success in Mzansi

The engine, a 3.0-litre turbodiesel engine producing 190kW and 600Nm, is a peach. All that surge is channeled through an 8-speed automatic gearbox. 

It's stupendously smooth to drive, well-built and offers superb value when compared to other vehicles in its class. Inside the Touareg sports tech and luxury items fitted to more expensive cars, it's well-kitted out and there are only two-models to choose from. 

It's simply the best SUV launched in 2018. 

Price: R1 167 400

2. Toyota Yaris - The GRMN will go down as one of the most exciting cars I've driven in 2018. Why? Because I didn't expect Toyota to spit out a car as good as this. Apart from that it's just a brilliant little car.  

Powered by a lekker revvy 1.6-litre supercharged engine mated to a short-throw gearbox the Yaris GRMN offers mad thrills for something this small. 

In an age where most performance cars are fitted with dual-clutch or automatic gearboxes, the rawness of snap-changing gears in the Yaris is exciting, visceral and addictive. 

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The GRMN is fitted with a trick suspension and sticky tyres. It also has heavy steering that offers lovely delicious feedback. It implores to be driven hard and offers us a glimpse of what Toyota has in store for future performance cars. 

It's without a doubt the most fun I had in a car this year. 

*The Yaris GRMN is not for sale in South Africa

3. Mercedes-AMG C63 (facelift) - In the middle of 2018, I drove a newer version of AMG's small fast saloon car, the C63 S, in Germany.   

Using the M177 4.0-llitre V8 engine with two turbochargers, it produces 375kW and a massive 700Nm in top-spec S form. It was never short on power though and this updated model is fitted with a nine-stage traction control system (also on the AMG GT R) also makes its debut on the C63 S.

The car blends its V8 rumble to a lovely bit of tail-happy sideways action when coerced to do so, fortunately I drove it on the Bilsterberg test track. 

The brute of a car has a lovely charm about it and to be honest has gotten better with age. It’s a thrilling machine with the V8 engine dominating the experience like a slice of pepperoni on a mini pizza.

Price - Due in Q1 2019

4. Honda Civic Type R - Show me a car that can seat five adults comfortably, has a top speed of 272km/h and will excite you more than an Instagram pic of your crush. That'll be the Civic Type R. 

Japan's most powerful production hot hatch is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with 228kW and 400Nm. 

The designers of the Type R might have been on LSD when they penned the hot hatch but all the wings, gills and lips have a purpose. 

It's seriously quick, 0-100km/h is a claimed 5.8 seconds, and driving it is an event. Find your favourite mountain pass early one morning and do a few sighting laps before finding your feet, and just thrash the living daylights out of it. 

It's a special car, one that a true enthusiast will enjoy. Bravo Honda. 

Price - R648 300

5. Volvo XC60 -  The award-winning Volvo XC60 became a firm favourite of mine in the middle of the year when I took it on a long road trip to Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown) for the National Arts Festival. 

Gone are the days when Volvos were only bought by librarians and architects. These days wealthy millennials are opting for the V40 and XC40. 

The XC60 is the Swedish automaker's most recent SUV following on from the flagship XC90 and the entry-level XC40.

The all-wheel drive XC60 has many rivals, but stands tall with its frugal yet powerful four-cylinder forced induction engines. It looks brilliant with its full LED headlights and sleek, yet composed stature. 

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Back to that great road trip I went on... the D5 model was on test and its suspension soaked up anything the Garden Route threw at it. It gobbled up luggage for five adults and was fitted with a banging sound system to make sure we enjoyed the music. 

It's fitted with adaptive cruise control, heads-up display, blind-spot alert and tech that'll brake the car if it detects pedestrians are in front of it. Pretty smart. 

The XC60's armor doesn't have many kinks, it's good-looking, frugal and practical. 

It's my favourite SUV of 2018, a car that's built for the city but is capable of going off the beaten track. 

Price - R796 200

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