We've rated the rest, now it's time for the best.
Having spent the past week looking back on the cars that stood out in 2023, but how to finish the year we're going to pick our absolute standouts. This quintet of cars is a diverse group but sums out our love of all things motoring. Whether it's the most extreme track car to the most adventurous off-roader to the latest and greatest electric vehicles, we love all things four-wheeled at Torquecafe.
So here, in no particular order, are our five favourite cars of 2023. But tell us yours, either in the comments below on social media.
Porsche 911 GT3 RS
If you look up ‘overkill' online you'll probably get an image of the 911 GT3 RS. Porsche has continually elevated the GT3 RS with each new generation but after so many years of doing so it boxed itself into a corner.
So, to get out of the corner, it developed the most race-inspired version yet. The GT3 RS looks like a Carrera Cup car with number plates, because it's actually not too far off it. It has the same 4.0-litre flat-six engine but the aerodynamics on the road car are arguably more advanced. It includes active aero, with DRS front and rear to help maximise straight line speed while also allowing for ludicrous cornering speeds.
As 2023 draws to an end we haven't had a proper chance to test it on the road, but on the track it was nothing short of exceptional.
Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series
It's old, overpriced and under-equipped but if you had to pick a vehicle to take you into the Australian outback if your life depends on it (because it probably does) then this is the obvious choice.
It's largely been unchanged for nearly four decades, which is both part of its problem but also one of its greatest strengths. Sure, there are other off-roaders you can choose, but none with the track-record and reputation of the 70 Series.
Not that Toyota has done nothing, in fact the 2023 changes were the biggest yet, introducing the 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine and six-speed automatic transmission from the HiLux to expand its appeal alongside the V8 diesel. There's also a fresh look and some added safety.
But overall, what matters hasn't changed and when you go off-road, I mean really off-road, the 70 Series is in its element.
Audi RS e-tron GT
Electric cars aren't for everyone, but unless you're driving big distances every day of the week, it's hard not to be impressed by Audi's new electric hero. The long-awaited RS e-tron GT finally arrived in Australia in the early months of the year and it immediately won us over.
Using the same fundamental underpinnings as the Porsche Taycan, but with a unique Audi look and feel, the RS e-tron GT is a genuinely fast and engaging car to drive; not something all EVs can claim.
We sampled it on both road and track this year and came away astonished by how well it acquitted itself around the fast, flowing Phillip Island circuit. Even if it's heavier than your average sports sedan, the immense performance from the dual electric motors (440kW/830Nm) means it launches out of corners like a rocket.
It's also a stylish and relaxed daily driver too, making it a potential one-car garage solution for those who are ready to take a step into the future.
Honda Civic Type R
If this car was a book it would be Great Expectations. Honda raised the bar with its previous generation Civic Type R, elevating the front-wheel drive hot hatch to a new level of dynamic capability. So there was massive pressure and expectations on this new generation… and it completely lived up to it.
This new, sleeker and more stylish Type R really does handle with a precision and feel that none of its rivals can match. If we're being totally candid, it only just edged out the GR Corolla for this list, and if pushed we'd probably favour the Toyota on a ‘bang-for-bucks' argument, but the Civic is just a cut above in pure handling terms.
No, it doesn't drift and skid like the GR Corolla and it's ludicrously expensive for a hot hatch ($72,600) but in terms of driving nothing else can compete.
Ford Mustang Dark Horse
A cynic might suggest that this seventh-generation Mustang is ‘merely' an evolution of the sixth-generation, but that would be severely under-selling it and missing the real point. Sure, this new S650 carries over many of the key elements of the S550, but that's a good thing.
There was a time when it was considered likely that this new-gen ‘Stang would either go hybrid or (gasp) all-electric. Thankfully, Ford's decision to build the Mustang Mach-E, while controversial in itself, actually allowed the blue oval to keep the coupe and convertible true to the heritage.
That means creating the Mustang Dark Horse, a new name for a new variant, a 5.0-litre V8-power, six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive coupe that is exactly what Mustang fans want. Yes, you can get the downsized, more fuel efficient 2.3-litre EcoBoost and there's a 10-speed automatic, but in an age of increasingly electric and overly complicated performance cars, there's something deeply impressive and loveable about this old-school muscle car.
Can't wait for it to land in Australia in 2024 and sample it again.