2023 and a look back on my time on the Malaysia Car of the Year judging panel
2023 has certainly been the year of unexpected highs and lows. The lowest was the serious illness of a close family member. The high was Yamin Vong, the Organising Chairman, inviting me to join the 19th Malaysia Car of the Year (COTY) judging panel. I’ve been on COTY panels before, both local and international, but this was such a diverse panel. There were of motoring journalists across a range of media and publications as well as non-motoring media judges. This was also the first MCOTY since 2019 and so much had changed in the automotive landscape over the last four years.
First up was a personal goal: the discipline to drive as many of the cars under consideration as possible over the few months and write/edit their respective reviews in a timely fashion. Guilty admission: there’s still a backlog of reviews to complete at time of writing. The criteria for consideration was new or significantly updated cars, launched and available for delivery between January 2022 and July 2023. The “available for delivery” is an important qualifier because some cars launched during that time frame but were not going to be delivered until later. The total number of cars that met the requirements came to more than 120 vehicles. Fortunately, some had variants, for example the BYD Dolphin, available in standard or extended range but otherwise near identical specs, thus reducing the To Do list.
Over the months, there were several discussions about vehicle categories as well the subdivision of categories to make the competition between the entrants fairer. This is also the era of the electric vehicle (EV) and so many had launched over the 18 months covering a wide budget range. The months of meetings and discussions, opinions and sharing of information were opportunities to expand knowledge and view points. The 19th COTY was a huge learning experience I was fortunate to be part of.
So here, after months of deliberation and cogitation are the results of The 19th Malaysian Car of the Year. Below are the videos for the various automotive categories. However, there was also a non-automotive award, for Person of the Year, Ir Ahmad Hadri Haris who has championed greener sources of electricity like roof-top solar panels in Malaysia, and electric mobility for over 20 years. In addition, Gentari received the award for the Most Promising Charge Point Provider. It wasn’t just about the opinions of the judging panel that mattered but the real feet on pedals, the People’s Choice Award which went to the Perodua Axia.
Besides the automotive category winners, there were also Honourable Mentions for vehicles which impressed the judges but were trumped to the award in their respective categories for various reasons. Three Honourable Mentions were awarded, to Ford Ranger Raptor 3.0 twin turbo V6 for Performance; Perodua Axia 1.0 E (M) for Affordability and Chery Omoda 5 for its outstanding Warranty, 1 Million Kilometres.
19th Malaysia Car of the Year Results
Overall Car of the Year 2023
- Hybrid Below RM250k: Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid 1.8
- Hybrid Above RM250k: Volvo XC90 Recharge T8 Ultimate (PHEV)
Sedan & Hatchback
- Sedan & Hatchback Below RM110k: Toyota Vios 1.5g
- Sedan & Hatchback Above RM110k to RM249k: Honda Civic e:HEV RS Hybrid
- Sedan & Hatchback Executive – Above RM250k: Mercedes-Benz C300 AMG Line
- SUV Below RM300k: Kia Sorento 22 Diesel AWD (6-Seater)
- SUV Above RM300k: Lexus RX 350 Luxury 2.4T AWD
- Crossover Below RM200k: Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid 1.8
- Crossover Above RM200k: Mazda CX-8 2.2D 2WD High (Updated)
Below are the videos of the automotive category winners receiving their much-deserved awards.
At Sime Darby Motors City, for the EV (Below RM200,000) Winner: BYD Dolphin Premium Extended
At Volvo’s office in Petaling Jaya. Volvo won two awards.
1) EV (Above RM200,000) Winner: Volvo C40
2) Hybrid (Above RM250,000) Winner: Volvo XC90 Recharge T8 Ultimate
UMW Toyota Malaysia, Shah Alam where Toyota and Lexus received four awards: three for Toyota and one for Lexus.
1) Hybrid (Below RM250,000) Winner: Toyota Corolla Cross 1.8 Hybrid
2) Crossover (Below RM200k) Winner: Toyota Corolla Cross 1.8 Hybrid
3) Sedan & Hatchback (Below RM110,000) Winner: Toyota Vios 1.5G
4) SUV (Above RM300,000) Winner: Lexus RX350 Luxury 2.4T AWD
Sedan & Hatchback (Above RM250,000) Winner: Mercedes-Benz C300 AMG Line
At Kia HQ in Glenmarie where Kia received two awards, MPV Winner: Kia Carnival 2.2D 11-seater and SUV (Below RM300,000) Winner: Kia Sorento 2.2D AWD (Six-seater)
Also in Glenmarie was Mazda, Crossover (Above RM200,000) Winner: Mazda CX-8 2.2D 2WD High
At Sime Darby Motors City in Ara Damansara to present the award to Truck Winner: Ford Ranger WildTrak 2.0L Bi-Turbo 4WD 10-Speed Automatic
Finally, to Honda where the Honda Civic e:HEV RS received two awards: Sedan & Hatchback (Above RM110k to RM249k) Winner and Overall Winner, CAR OF THE YEAR 2023.
Crown in Featured Image by vectorpocket on Freepik