Car Throttle Car of the Year 2023

After driving stacks of cars over the last 12 months, we’ve picked out the ones that impressed us the most
Car Throttle Car of the Year 2023

As a car publication that puts a little more emphasis on the quicker, spicier stuff than most, it’s pleasing that there have been some absolute bangers in that regard in 2023. The only problem? The amount of money they all cost.

Affordable performance cars are harder to come by than ever, which is why we’ve tried to mix things up a little bit this year by talking about a few more affordable, everyday cars that impressed us.

What we’ve come up with is a list of eight nominees, all cars we drove for the first time in 2023. From that batch, one car will be highly commended, and another crowed our overall Car of the Year.

Honda Civic Type R

Car Throttle Car of the Year 2023

Remember what we said about a lack of affordable performance cars? The FL5 Honda Civic Type R is, sadly, an excellent example of the way things have shifted. It wasn’t that long ago that the FK8 Type R went on sale for £30,995, but six years on, you’ll need a fiver shy of £50,000 to buy one, and yet, demand is still outstripping supply.

A dwindling number of other hot hatch options will be a factor, but a large part of it is simply that the FL5 is an awesome car that people want. After two shonkily styled efforts, the latest Type R - helped by a cleaner-looking Civic hatchback to use as a starting point - looks fabulous, yet every bit as angry as the last one thanks to its mean stance and chunky rear wing.

To drive it’s exciting, involving and if the conditions aren’t perfect, rather boisterous. It’s a high point not just for the Civic Type R lineage, but hot hatches overall. High price and waiting lists be damned - it’s worth it.

BMW M3 Touring

Car Throttle Car of the Year 2023

BMW might not make a petrol-powered M3 for much longer, but we can console ourselves in the knowledge that M is doing all sorts of wondrous things with the model in its twilight years. The M3 CS was one of our most pleasant surprises of 2023, but that car has been denied a place on our final Car of the Year nominees list by the M3 Touring.

We never thought we’d get a production M3 wagon. The closest BMW came was a concept version based on the E46, and with the rise of M SUVs that emerged since, a big-booted M3 seemed like an impossible dream. And yet, here we are.

It’s every bit as good to drive as the saloon, and if anything, is a little more fun as that big load area becomes a bit of an echo chamber to be filled with lovely straight-six noises. If you want one car to do almost everything, this is it.


MG4 - driving
MG4 - driving

Unless you're taking the keys as a company car, EVs cost significantly more to get hold of than their combustion counterparts. Unless, of course, it's an MG4. We keep waiting for the price of this electric hatch to go up, but at the moment, the entry-level version is still only £26,995. That’s decent value for any hatchback of that size, let alone one powered by batteries and a motor. It’s also more than just a white good, being actually pretty nice to drive, lovely to sit in, and reasonably interesting - if a little divisive - to look at.

2023 saw the debut of a new Extended Range version that can do over 300 miles on a single charge, albeit for quite a bit more than the entry version at £36,495. This year MG also brought out an xPower version with over 400bhp, which is interesting, but not really worth the extra money.

Yes, we know people with crusty MGBs in the garage will get sniffy about the current MG brand effectively having nothing to do with its old iteration, but honestly, we don’t care.

Hyundai Ioniq 6

Hyundai Ioniq 6 - front
Hyundai Ioniq 6 - front

Amidst the deluge of heavy, incredibly pricey electric SUVs, Hyundai has made something very different for the electric age. The streamliner saloon profile of the Ioniq 6 makes for a pleasing change.

It’s a joy to sit in its minimalistic, high-quality interior, which you’ll be able to do for a long time before you need to get out and plug it in, with that slippery shape giving a range of 338 miles despite the modest (ish) size of the battery.

The camera mirrors are a bit silly and it’s not cheap, starting at £47,000, but this is a very interesting way to not buy the now ubiquitous Tesla Model S.

Lamborghini Huracan Sterrato

Lamborghini Huracan Sterrato - side
Lamborghini Huracan Sterrato - side

It’s easy to write off the Huracan Sterrato as a rich person’s plaything, most examples of which will never get their tyres dusty. However, our first drive in the lifted Lamborghini earlier in 2023 blew our preconceptions out of the water. And weirdly, as fun as it is kicking up loads of dirt while the V10 bounces off the rev limiter, we like this car more for how it feels on the road and the track.

With a lower limit of adhesion from the blocky tyres, more suspension travel and an all-wheel drive system tuned for easy-to-control oversteer, the Sterrato becomes far more playful and approachable than any other Huracan. You don’t have to worry about speed bumps or potholes, and longer journeys are far more comfortable.

All of this left us wondering if supercars have been going in the wrong direction. What we need is a new movement towards lifted suspension, chunky tyres and body cladding, because the result is a machine that’s more fun more of the time. And also very silly. And isn’t that what supercars should be all about?

Commended: Porsche 911 GT3 RS

Porsche 911 GT3 RS - side
Porsche 911 GT3 RS - side

Yes, this seems like an obvious addition, and no, we won’t apologise for that. The new Porsche 911 GT3 RS is astonishingly good, and that wasn’t necessarily a given. There was a worry that Porsche had taken the new 3 RS too far, building something so focused on the track that it’d be horrendous to drive elsewhere. But that’s not the case.

You do need to be paying the utmost attention when driving on public roads, as the aggressive suspension setup sees the GT3 RS following every slight change in camber, resulting in constant micro steering connections. But the damping flows with the road nicely, and the 518bhp output is far from excessive these days, meaning you can actually enjoy a good few seconds of wide-open throttle before having to back off.

Of course, it shines brightest on the track, where its active aero and comprehensively adjustable suspension can really strut their stuff. It’s a full-on experience on a circuit - as we found at Monza, of all places - but a friendlier one than you might expect. It might look like a GT3 Cup racing car, but it’s considerably more approachable.

Its only real downside is the usual issue of getting hold of one. The cheapest lightly used examples carry an astonishing premium, with the cheapest we’ve seen coming in at £360,000, dwarfing the £192,600 starting point. But so good is the 3 RS, that you could pay the extra and still be very happy with your choice.

Car Throttle Car of the Year: BMW M2

Car Throttle Car of the Year 2023

Yes, it’s the second BMW on this list, and that’s with us showing some restraint, as there’s a rationale for also bunging in the i5 as well as the aforementioned M3 CS. The German firm is on a bit of a roll in 2023.

This second-generation M2 is a car we weren’t sure we’d get a few years ago, with smaller cars in the range going front-wheel drive. Thankfully, BMW’s decision to base the G42 2-series on the same platform as the 3-series rather than the 1er kept the dream alive. 

Into that goes a detuned version of the M3 and M4’s S58 twin-turbo straight-six, resulting in a car that feels like it has just a bit too much power for its own good. That’s the way we like it. You can also have it with a manual gearbox, something that isn’t possible with the M3 and M4 in the UK.

Car Throttle Car of the Year 2023

Yes, the styling isn’t for everyone and that S58 isn’t quite as thrilling as the old S55 found in the old M2 Competition and M2 CS, but working together with an excellent chassis, it combines to make one of the most exciting cars we’ve driven this year.

The reason it takes our Car of the Year gong is because it does all this without costing the Earth. At £62,420, it’s not drastically more than our nominated Honda Civic Type R, and yet has two additional cylinders in an engine driving the ‘correct’ wheels, plus a badge that has a whole lot more kudos behind it.

Buy one while you still can.


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