In this inaugural feature, the Driven team recaps ten of our favourite cars launched, or driven, during 2023. 

From sleek electric vehicles pushing the boundaries of sustainable performance, to high-octane ICE beasts roaring with power, the **Driven team has experienced them all in 2023. Join us on a brief drive in the cars that left an indelible mark on our hearts during the year.


With its high-performance five-cylinder engine, quattro drivetrain, compact dimensions, and elongated roofline, the Audi RS 3 Sportback is the spiritual successor to the iconic RS 2 Avant. The third-generation model is also the most powerful, the fastest and the most technologically advanced derivative in the lineage. It may also be the last of its kind, and this makes it even more special. 

Equipped for the first time with a torque splitter, a fully variable flap control system for the engine and the new RS Performance mode specific to the RS 3, the latest model is also the best in terms of driving dynamics and handling. It still is one-of-a-kind in its segment, and this uniqueness and heritage makes it our favourite compact performance car – more so when the RS sport exhaust system amplifies that unmistakable thrum of the five-cylinder engine.


Earlier this year, we travelled to Tenerife to experience the exclusive world of the Batur, a grand tourer that melds the polar opposites of tranquillity and raw power, while pushing the boundaries of design and personalisation.

Crafted by Bentley’s Mulliner division, the Batur combines exquisite craftsmanship with a personalised design odyssey, allowing each of the fortunate 18 owners to embark on a unique journey of customisation, guided by Mulliner’s design team. 

The Batur proudly boasts the title of Bentley’s most powerful creation. Its 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged W12 engine, hand-assembled with meticulous precision, catapults the grand tourer from zero to 100 km/h in 3.4 seconds. As Bentley bids farewell to the W12 in 2024, the Batur stands as a monument to its unmatched power and refinement.

Beyond power and luxury, the Batur delivers an unparalleled driving experience. Adaptive three-chamber air springs, Drive Dynamics Control, and Bentley’s 48V electric active anti-roll control system the Batur commands the road with unrivalled precision.

As we experienced the Batur’s symphony of power and control during our test drive, it became evident that this grand tourer is not just a car; it’s a harmonious blend of precision engineering, bespoke luxury, and the indomitable spirit of personal expression.


It is the most powerful SUV ever developed by BMW M, and while the Munich-based luxury carmaker uniquely refers to it as a Sports Active Coupé (SAC), it is hands-down our premium coupé-inspired large performance SUV of choice this year. 

With an astounding 460 kW of power (at 6,000 rpm) and a maximum torque of 750 Nm between 1,800 and 5,600 rpm, wrung from its high-revving 4.4-litre V8 engine with M TwinPower Turbo technology, the X6 M Competition’s brutal good looks are trumped only by its breathtaking performance, that sees the three-tonne gladiator sprint from the starting line to 100 km/h in a mind-bending 3.8 seconds.

Versatile power delivery is effortless, thanks in part to an eight-speed M Steptronic transmission with Drivelogic and the M xDrive all‑wheel-drive system with rear-biased setup, which can be adjusted in 4WD / 4WD Sport modes. The M xDrive also teams up with Active M Differential to optimise traction and dynamics.

Mighty, luxurious, and packed with next-generation technology, this is the SAC to have when making a bold statement is simply non-negotiable.


As motoring journalists, we assess all cars on their own merits, but as a car owner, there is always an element of brand loyalty. When a new car makes us question that long held loyalty, it has to be something special. And the Kia Sportage is just that. The distinctive tiger nose grille, futuristic boomerang-shaped LED daytime running lights, striking wheel designs, muscular lines, and a sporty character – it’s not hard to see why the Sportage turns heads. But the real fun is on inside, where the star of the show is undoubtedly the integrated curved display which sweeps across the dash incorporating the touch screen infotainment system and the driver’s instrument cluster in one beautifully sculpted screen. 

Add to that a spirited and responsive drive experience thanks to a 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine (which kicks out 100 kW of power with 320 Nm of torque) and a super smooth seven-speed dual clutch transmission and the Sportage is easily one of the best road trip cars you could imagine, not to mention a great everyday run-around that’ll keep you smiling for years to come.


It may not be class-leading in all aspects, but the new Scorpio-N is included as one of our Top Ten driving experiences as it elevates existing Mahindra benchmarks across all critical parameters: performance, capability, technology, refinement, ride and handling, noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH), interior trim, appearance, and safety (securing a five-star GNCAP crash-test rating).

The Scorpio-N has impressed all and sundry with the breadth of its capabilities, on-road as well as of-road, and the high quality of its interior trim, all available at a very competitive price point. This has now established the Indian-built vehicle as a serious contender in the highly contested ladder-frame SUV segment. It also augurs well for the one-tonne global pickup truck from Mahindra, based on the same platform as the Scorpio-N.


Mercedes-Benz entered a new luxury, all-electric era when it introduced the Mercedes-EQ EQS saloon here in 2022. This year, the EQS SUV – the third model series with this architecture developed for electric vehicles – elevated premium electric mobility to a new level, as the truest embodiment of the brand’s “The Best or Nothing” ethos.

Offering acres of interior space, supreme comfort, and class-leading connectivity for up to seven passengers, the EQS is by a significant margin the most luxurious EV we’ve driven. Thanks to its two powerful Permanently Excited Synchronous (PSM) electric motors (feeding off a generous 108.4 kWh battery) and responsive 4MATIC all-wheel-drive, it is also one of the quickest, capable of propelling the 3,265 kg beast from zero to 100 km/h in a tight 6.0 seconds.  

Evocative in design and captivating in execution, the Mercedes-EQ EQS450 SUV indisputably deserves the title of one of the most compelling cars we’ve tested in 2023.


Picture this: A family of six on the lookout for a ride that’s not just a car but a fun accomplice to their everyday chaos. Enter the Mercedes-Benz V300d Special Edition – our family’s favourite adventure buddy that makes every trip a celebration.

So, why did we pick this beauty? Well, it wasn’t just the parents who made the call, but the kids – usually hard-to-impress critics – were all-in after our time with the V300d. The swivelling middle-row captain’s chairs, the flood of natural light, and the cool tech were like the V300d was made for family shenanigans.

Thanks to its LED headlights and an AMG-Line grille, the V300d Special Edition is a head-turner, and inside it’s pure luxury. The 15-speaker Burmester sound system heated and ventilated seats, a dashboard that’s a tech dream, and powered dual sliding doors, all add to the feeling that you’re boarding a private jet rather than hopping aboard a bus.

Under the hood, the stately Merc people-mover packs a 2.0-litre turbodiesel punch, with 174 kW and 550 Nm launching it from zero to 100 km/h in 7.8 seconds. And the ride? Smooth as butter, thanks to those Agility Control adaptive dampers. And did we mention that it doubles as a mobile office? Working from “home” has never been this cool.


During our immersive experience at the Goodwood Festival of Speed earlier this year, the Porsche 911 GT3 with Touring Package captivated with its understated, yet impeccable style. The Touring Package seamlessly marries timeless design with modern engineering, illustrated by the absence of the traditional fixed rear wing, replaced by an intelligently designed extending spoiler.

Slipping into the driver’s seat is an invitation to an unparalleled driving experience. The 375 kW flat-six normally aspirated engine delivers breathtaking power throughout the gear range of the manual box we had at our disposal, creating a symphony of precision engineering that is both exhilarating and sublime.

With a focus on benchmark performance, the GT3 with Touring Package, weighing 1,418 kg, combines lightning-quick acceleration and gravity-defying handling, while its seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission enhances the car’s versatility, offering a driving marvel that adapts to the preferences of the driver.

Beyond the adrenaline-pumping drive, Porsche’s meticulous attention to detail shines through in the interior. From the black leather-trimmed steering wheel to the partial leather interior with exquisite black stitching, every element contributes to an ambiance where performance seamlessly meets refinement.


One of our most endearing rides for 2023 was the Volkswagen Amarok Style 2.0 BiTDI 154 kW 4MOTION. More than a truck, but a bold statement, living with the Amarok was like having a loyal sidekick who’s always ready for the next big adventure.

First things first, this bakkie doesn’t follow the crowd, with its Matrix-LED headlights, a redesigned grille, and a look that screams, “I’m not your average bakkie!” Although it shares a few genes with the Ford Ranger, the Amarok has its swagger.

Inside is where the Amarok truly shines. The seats are like a warm hug, the climate control does its thing superbly in all conditions, and that 12.0″ infotainment screen is a stunner. Power wise, it boasts a 2.0-litre four-cylinder bi-turbo diesel engine with 154 kW and 500 Nm. Add in the 10-speed automatic transmission and the 4Motion system, and you’ve got a ride that handles city streets like a champ.

It might be well at home in the urban jungle, but the Amarok isn’t afraid of a bit of dirt, handling even the toughest terrain with ease. Living with the Amarok was akin to having and eating your cake, too – stylish, comfortable, and ready for anything.


With many manufacturers making the move to producing electric vehicles (some exclusively so), many a petrol-head has bemoaned the fact that that delicious V8 turbocharged internal combustion engine roar may soon be a thing of the past. But Volvo’s XC40 P8 Recharge Twin is proving that silent driving doesn’t have to mean staid driving. In fact, the instant and powerful acceleration of the P8 Recharge’s 300 kW of power and gargantuan 660 Nm of torque (thanks to a 78 kWh battery feeding two electric motors) can catch you off guard – and is likely to give you whiplash if you’re a little too heavy footed on take-off. And with a 0-100 km/h sprint time of just 4.9 seconds (and a top seed of 160 km/h), it may be worth investing in a neck brace as it’s too tempting not to put foot whenever possible. 

As well as the complete absence of lag, the P8 comes without the usual range anxiety of many electric cars, as it promises a range of up to 418 km. It is also easy to charge overnight at home, or to top up at a fast charging station. Add to that, eye-catching good looks, a well-appointed and characteristically sophisticated interior and a host of bells and whistles, and the P8 Recharge was hands down one of our top cars of the year – roar or no roar.

Report by DRIVEN | Images © SUPPLIED

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