5 Most Memorable Drives of 2016

DSC 4804

There is a multitude of accomplished products on our market, but some vehicles make more of a lasting impression than others. We've driven quite a few cars in 2016, but these 5 memorable drives shone the brightest.

Hell, hey! It’s been a busy year. I won’t even bother to count how many cars I’ve driven in 2016, because it doesn’t matter. All you need to know is that the number is significant. Even though this is true, it’s sad to think that a fair number of cars managed to slip from my clutches (pun intended), leaving me sobbing in my bathtub for hours in the middle of many a night. Not really, but you get the picture.

You see, some cars, especially performance cars and supercars, have the tendency to vanish as soon as they arrive for testing. I suspect that Cars.co.za's track test driver Ashley Oldfield is behind this larceny, but he is by no means the only lead-footed tester (in the nicest possible way) on the team. It’s largely for this reason that my most memorable drives for the year don’t include high-performance machinery, with the exception of one, of course.

I enjoy taking cars on adventures and testing them in ways that relate to our loyal readers. I love the excitement of undertaking long road trips and I enjoy relaying vehicle feedback on my escapades that’s both useful and informative to Cars.co.za's users. In this endeavour, I hope I have succeeded. 

I thought long and hard about the drives that stood out most for me and after much deliberation, here are 5 of my most memorable drives of 2016. Enjoy!

Mazda3 Astina Plus Automatic

Why’s it on this list?

The Mazda3 Astina Plus is on this list because it’s packed with useful safety features and transported me on a 1 386 km trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town. I really like its evocative coupe-like styling that sets it apart from most hatchbacks on the road and it happens to be very pleasant to drive too.

What’s special about it?

The Mazda3 Astina Plus automatic proved its worth on my long, solo journey from Gauteng to the Cape. It delivered a comfortable driving experience, which underlined the fact that the Hiroshima-based manufacturer's top-of-the-range premium hatchback is a great car for long-distance cruising. The Astina Plus, although sporty-looking, is not that sporty to pilot, but the interior is modern enough and offers just about all the comfort features you might need.

Perhaps its most appealing attribute, for me at least, is that it’s an honest car and an excellent daily runner. I also enjoyed the BOSE sound system, which did a good job of keeping me entertained on my journey. Like I said in my tweet, if I made enough money, I would probably buy one.

Read: Mazda3 2.0 Astina Plus Automatic (2016) Review

Search for a new/used Mazda3 on Cars.co.za

Land Rover Defender Heritage Edition

Why’s it on this list?

The Land Rover Defender Heritage Edition is on this list because old-school is still cool. It’s big, boxy, and unrefined and it can take you wherever you want to go. There’s no other vehicle quite like it... Even the Mercedes-Benz G-Class is sophisticated and "modern" by comparison.

What’s special about it?

Production of the iconic Defender came to an end earlier in 2016 and the Heritage Edition pays tribute to its successful 68-year history. The Defender Heritage Edition embodies all the classic elements that the Defender is so well known for, yet it has modern touches, such as the comfortable Almond Resolve cloth and vinyl seats. More importantly, it’s a seriously capable 4x4.

The Defender Heritage Edition cares not for trivial technological trickery and driving it takes you back in time. The only other vehicle that can time travel is Dr Emmett Brown's DeLorean! The Defender Heritage Edition is rough and ready for any adventure you throw at it, just the way I like it.

Read: Land Rover Defender 110 Heritage Edition (2016) Review

Search for a used Land Rover Defender on Cars.co.za

BMW 750i Design Pure Excellence

Why’s it on this list?

The new BMW 750i Design Pure Excellence is on this list because it’s simply the most luxurious and technologically advanced car I’ve driven.

What’s special about it?

Just about everything. The interior is beautifully executed and it offers comfort and luxury that makes you want to drive it all day long. The technology in the 750i Design Pure Excellence is super impressive and it drives like a dream. It’s also powerful and more dynamic (in terms of handling) than you’d think. Here's a thought: Sell your house, buy the 750i Design Pure Excellence and live in it. It’s probably more comfortable and better equipped than your house anyway…

I'm not surprised that the long wheelbase BMW 750Li Design Pure Excellence is a finalist in the First Class category of the Cars.co.za Consumer Awards - Powered by WesBank, and I'll be less surprised if it takes the trophy home come January 2017. It's that good! 

Read: BMW 750i Design Pure Excellence (2016) Review

Search for a new/used BMW 7 Series on Cars.co.za


Isuzu KB300 LX 4x4 Automatic

Why’s it on this list?

The Isuzu KB is on this list because it survived a 6-day 4x4 adventure in the Namib Desert without batting an eyelid. It’s a hugely capable 4x4.

What’s special about it?

For starters, the price is special. When we conducted our 4-way bakkie comparative review earlier this year, the KB was the second most expensive double cab in attendance. Fast forward to the present moment and it’s the most affordable when compared with the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok. The Isuzu KB is a tough cookie ready-made for challenging times and its performance in the dunes gave me newfound respect for it.

Read: Facelifted Isuzu KB (2016) First Drive

Search for a new/used Isuzu KB on Cars.co.za

We have a video of our journey to Namibia in the making. Subscribe to our YouTube channel, you don't want to miss this one!

Audi R8 V10 Plus

Why’s it on this list?

The Audi R8 V10 Plus is on this list because it’s fast and it’s the only supercar I’ve driven this year. Many people have asked me: "What’s the fastest car you’ve driven this year? The Audi R8 V10 Plus is my answer. As it turns out, Ashley Oldfield must’ve been peddling his bike somewhere in the mountains when the R8 arrived at our office, because I got to drive it. I didn’t have much time with the R8, but the experience was enough to make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. The acceleration from 80 kph to 120 kph was viciously rapid, and it didn’t stop there. It’s difficult to forget that feeling. Thanks, Ash. 

Read: Audi R8 V10 Plus (2016) Review

Search for a new/used Audi R8 on Cars.co.za

Part 1: Audi R8 vs McLaren 570S with Drag Race

Part 2: Audi R8 vs McLaren 570S Track Race