The almost completed year of 2023 was the first full year of my presence on MEZHA.MEDIA as an author of car reviews. Throughout 2023, almost 40 copyrighted materials related to cars and transportation were published. About half of the above-mentioned materials were test drives of new cars. Another large group of stories were “car presentations”: detailed stories about the first appearance of important automotive innovations in the world or in Ukraine. Plus, there were a few stories on free topics – for example, even a test drive of an electric scooter! It seems that we have a good basis for summarizing some results and naming the most interesting cars and trends of 2023.

The best compact car – Opel Astra

Perhaps somewhat unexpectedly, the winner will be the Opel Astra. In fact, not many new compact cars were presented in Ukraine in 2023. Among the representatives of the traditional familiar European C-class, only a few interesting new products were added, such as the Opel Astra and Peugeot 308, which I compared with each other.

Note the phrase “traditional/accustomed”: the Opel Astra is a better fit for these terms, with a more traditional interior, a choice of gasoline engines, and a lower price. It is simply a more moderate and practical choice for a buyer who is looking for a familiar car in the traditional C-class. And that’s what I give it for. Want the same, but with more emotion? Great, that’s exactly what the Peugeot 308 is for! But in pursuit of emotions, you can go further – in the direction of the Peugeot 408: more size, more power, more design.

The best medium-sized car is Peugeot 408 or Skoda Octavia

Yes, I specifically included this category. Even though there are few models to recognize here, I had to include two models, both with “nuances.” This reflects trends in the global market in general and the Ukrainian market in particular. But in fact, not everything is so bad and you can still find some good cars!

For example, the aforementioned and original Peugeot 408 (I hope to have a detailed test here soon) or an example of practicality and moderation in the form of Skoda Octavia (I had to look at it last year, but it was worth it). Or there is another option – large D/E-class cars, which I will mention below.

The best compact SUV – Volkswagen T-Roc

This segment of compact crossovers is one of the reasons for the almost complete absence of the usual B/C-class cars: Peugeot 2008, Suzuki Vitara, Suzuki S-Cross, Nissan Qashqai – they are not only competitors to compact SUV models, but also hatchbacks of the C-class. What can we say about the Volkswagen T-Roc, which was originally built as a Golf-Cross? Pleasant and easy to drive, an optimal 150-horsepower engine, good equipment and packages. The only thing missing was a high-quality interior – and the car’s update brought it!

In fact, the Volkswagen T-Roc had a couple of strong competitors: the DS 4 Cross and the CUPRA Formentor. The former attracts attention with its luxurious interior and good comfort, plus it has a choice of engines – gasoline or diesel. The latter is a relative of VAG technology, also offering a choice of engines and even all-wheel drive. But, first of all, these are rather “niche” models. Few dealers, little recognition – against the developed Volkswagen dealer network and excellent recognition of the T-Roc, which makes its purchase more logical. And secondly, these cars are more expensive. Yes, Volkswagen knows how to set adequate price tags!

The best mid-size SUV – Mazda CX-5

Here the class is filled with interesting models even more than the previous one: Opel Grandland, Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, Nissan X-Trail, Hyundai Tucson (especially in the Hybrid version), and new Honda models. But I would like to mention a car that is well known, no longer surprises with details, but still remains a pleasant personality in general – this is the Mazda CX-5.

Why the Mazda CX-5? Because all of the above cars offer practicality, good equipment, a spacious interior, a large enough trunk, front-wheel drive, and various engines to choose from. Each is better in some ways, worse in others. However, only the Mazda CX-5 crossover adds a real trump card to this list – driving pleasure. That is, it still complies with the class rules, it is still practical for the family, but it also has the ability to give moments of joy to the driver.

The best large SUV – Toyota Land Cruiser Prado and Lexus GX

The new Prado has arrived, there’s nothing more to add. But now it also has an interesting design, more modern equipment, and a hybrid engine option. And really, what else is there to add?

For example, you can add a Lexus GX SUV: its own design, luxurious interior trim, and a more powerful engine. I am confident that these two cars will be the best sellers in their class for the next 5-8 years. That is why this is a double award.

The best electric car – Hyundai Ioniq 6

The Hyundai Ioniq 6 electric car surprisingly combines a very interesting design and a beautiful interior, comfort while driving, high technology (even for the electric world), and excellent dynamics. It also costs a relatively reasonable amount of money for such a list of features.

However, I can’t help but mention one more electric car that is on a completely different side of the market. This is the new MG 4, which makes electric cars relatively affordable and massive. This doesn’t translate into victories in various competitions, but it does translate into “people’s victories” in yards and parking lots. It’s an interesting pairing: the stunning high-tech Hyundai Ioniq 6 and the “people’s” MG 4 hatchback; remind you of anything?

Best technology of the year – Nissan e-POWER

It seems that everyone is now investing in electric cars, and there are simply not enough resources to improve conventional cars and engines. But Nissan is boldly going all-in, launching a completely new and very interesting e-POWER.

Firstly, it is a series hybrid, where all the key elements are connected in a chain: gasoline engine – generator – battery – electric motor. Secondly, there can be several electric motors at once, which makes it possible to implement all-wheel drive. Thirdly, it uses an engine with a variable compression ratio (ouch… the latest news). Such boldness of technological solutions deserves a special mention!

Failure of the year – Mazda CX-60

It’s a matter of expectations not being fully met. Mazda has been working on its new platform, engines, and equipment for a long time. She talked for a long time about the first incarnation of all this – in the form of a Mazda CX-60 car. And then it turned out that the car was a bit “raw”. It seems that the market was simply demanding “when are the new products coming?” and Mazda gave in: they released the car before they had time to finalize all the settings of their branded “perfectionism”. It’s a pity that the first impression was so blurred, because in fact, the prospects and capabilities of the new technology are really very good – as the Mazda CX-90 has already proven.

Two other cars could have competed for the dubious title in this competition. First, it’s the new Nissan X-Trail crossover: we clearly didn’t get along with it in terms of chassis behavior, cornering feel, suspension setup for comfort, and so on. But everything is fine with the feeling of acceleration and dynamics, because the e-POWER technology “decides” here. If you want to buy a Nissan X-Trail, then I recommend only e-POWER; preferably with e-4ORCE all-wheel drive – even if it is expensive. Second, I would like to mention the new Volkswagen Passat, which has lost its sedan body. I understand that there is already a Volkswagen ID.7 and “Europe chooses a station wagon”. However, it still doesn’t fit in my head: the destruction of such automotive “basics” with one’s own hands. Especially when you mention competitors.

The positive of the year – large D/E-class cars

The most resilient models demonstrate their resilience once again! Yep, that’s not a typo, I wrote it that way on purpose and used the same word twice in the sentence – because these cars deserve the word “sustainability” in the almost total crossover world. We are talking about the new Toyota Camry and Hyundai Sonata sedans, as well as the new Skoda Superb liftback (which looks like a sedan). This year also saw the debut of the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5-Series: a real parade of sedans! However, while premium German cars are “eternal” and have their loyal fans, mass models are constantly in competition not only with each other but also under market pressure from SUV models. However, these new products are still coming out!

Of course, there were many more interesting events in the automotive world. It is worth mentioning the start of deliveries of the Tesla Cybertruck, the debut of the Dacia Duster (we will probably have it with the Renault Duster name), the return of Jeep to Ukraine, etc. The automotive market is trying to live and move forward, both globally and in Ukraine.

This is where I consider my rating to be complete. However, of course, I look forward to your personal feedback in the comments – what impressed you most in the automotive world in 2023? I will definitely review it and will be happy to answer your questions. And now – see you in new articles in the new year of 2024. And I wish us all that it will finally bring peace to Ukraine!