We’ve driven plenty of exciting metal in 2022, but the year is almost over – and the car industry never stops moving.
From futuristic electric flagships to screaming tributes to internal-combustion heroes past, with a few family SUVs thrown in for good measure, here’s what the CarExpert team is most excited to drive in 2023.
BMW M2, M3 Touring, XM
I just can’t nail it down to one car. In fact, it’s a BMW triple for me.
The M2 is a new-generation car from the ground up that borrows from the latest M3/M4, with a clean-sheet exterior design I’m liking more every time I see another pic, while the M3 Touring is the first such M3 wagon ever to go into series production.
I saw the XM in a static display in Italy earlier this year, and was utterly gobsmacked by how big it is – and just how different it is from any other BMW so far inside and out. The fact it’s the fully-fledged electrified M vehicle, and therefore track capable, is something I need to experience first hand. Can’t wait.
I’m really keen on the new Ferrari Purosangue SUV, which I will hopefully get to drive sometime late February.
This SUV that isn’t an SUV has a three-year wait list for new orders, and Ferrari took forever to get it right. By all accounts, it got it right.
But why am I keen to drive an SUV? While the world of big engines is coming to an end with everyone (including Ferrari) going to hybrids and EVs, some crazy Italians decided – un ultimo volta – one last time, why not put a giant V12 in an SUV while we still can.
Genuinely, one last time that glorious engine will get used and what a way to do it… to carry the whole family around.
The last and undoubtedly the greatest SUV to ever be built is coming in 2023 with a naturally aspirated V12, and I am simply begging to drive it and hoping to make it my next family car.
Kia EV6 GT, Hyundai Ioniq 5
I’ve driven the regular Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 and thoroughly enjoyed both – the Ioniq 5 has the funkier interior, the EV6 is better to drive, and neither is available in anywhere near the numbers they deserve to be in Australia as supply is prioritised for other markets.
The N-fettled Ioniq 5 should address some of the dynamic issues we’ve raised with the Hyundai while also dialling in more driving excitement, and we know what the team at N is capable of achieving.
The EV6 GT isn’t being designed quite as explicitly as a track weapon, but its performance numbers are nothing to sneeze at.
Needless to say, I’m very excited to drive both. Special mentions go to the long-awaited Touring version of the BMW M3 for the combination of driving excitement and connectedness and practicality it’ll offer, as well as the GWM Tank 300 and 500.
Neither of these body-on-frame SUVs are going to be anywhere near as exciting to drive as the aforementioned vehicles, but GWM is one of the Chinese companies I watch with the greatest interest.
The idea it’ll beat Toyota to market with hybrid and plug-in hybrid off-roaders is fascinating, and I’ll be curious to see if they can offer the same level of general competence and sharp value as GWM’s smaller products at a higher price point.
This is not the same question as asking what car I think will be the best.
I was impressed by the Atto 3, and the Seal looks to take things up another notch. BYD is a real brand to watch, but if the Seal is no good, it’ll lose momentum.
But if it does resonate as I suspect it will, then BYD will become a staple of the affordable EV market.
I’m really looking forward to driving the Volkswagen Amarok next year.
I’ve driven almost every flavour of the Ford Ranger thus far and I’m keen to experience how much the Amarok differs first hand.
The interior looks great with the piano key shortcut buttons, and a Volkswagen steering wheel that actually has physical buttons.
I should also mention the cabin should represent a vast improvement over the previous-generation Amarok with its microscopic 6.33-inch touchscreen.
I’m a sucker for the torquey 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel in the Ranger and Everest, and I think it’ll be just right in the Amarok. The 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol sounds interesting too!
Toyota HiLux GR Sport
Toyota urgently needs a proper competitor to not only the Ford Ranger, but more importantly the Ranger Raptor.
The HiLux Rogue was a promising effort, but I want to see what Toyota can drum up as a viable alternative to the Raptor.
I’m hoping it involves a petrol Lexus engine of some description and the ability to clear jumps like the Ranger Raptor does. Toyota has been conservative with the HiLux long enough and it’s now time to throw the kitchen sink at it and get serious on a performance variant.
Ford Mustang Dark Horse
For all its flaws, the old Mustang was one of those cars I’d always look forward to driving.
From the V8 burble to the chunky, positive manual shift, it was more than just a pretty face. But it wasn’t perfect.
The interior was always a bit cheap, and the fact Australia missed out on the proper Mach 1 we were promised was always disappointing. Sure, all some owners want to do is pose on Chapel Street, but the previous-generation car was also capable enough to serve as a track car… it just lacked a few details to get it properly dialled in.
The new car potentially fixes both those problems. I’m not sold on the new screen-heavy dashboard in images, but I’m hoping the materials and general finish are a step in the right direction.
The new Dark Horse solves the track Mach 1 problem, too. It’s locked and loaded for Australia, with a range of tasty upgrades to make it more capable for serious drivers. Sign me up.
I know I’m not old enough to be longing for the wafty ride of a premium SUV just yet, but for some reason I’m obsessed with the idea of a Mazda CX-60.
Since its reveal I haven’t been able to stop talking about it in the office – ask my colleagues for verification.
The first plug-in hybrid from the Mazda brand could be the technology’s best shot yet at becoming more mainstream in the Australian market, and the inline-six options also stick out as potential gems.
I’ll take an Azami PHEV in Soul Red Crystal with the Takumi Package for a very extended loan please. Mmm… white leather…