Deciding the Best Wheels: Inside South Africa’s Car of The Year Awards

Awards ceremonies, like other things we all like in life, are significant. We spend our hard-earned money on products and services that we feel might be better or improve the things we do. The same can be said for vehicles. We use them for almost every part of our South African daily commute and leisure, so choosing one naturally isn’t an easy process because we want what is best for our needs.

When looking into a new vehicle, we either remain brand loyal or look into what the market is offering the best. The content that is available out there is so valuable in our purchasing decision. We rely so much on motoring journalists, car content creators, and awards to influence our decisions, which is why Car of The Year has become an important task. This is not just for those who chose the winner but for those looking into purchasing that very vehicle because if it comes with praise, it’s worth our time, attention, and money.

The Old Mutual Insure Car if the year is an important one. It takes the very best of the South African market, puts them through its paces and determines which is the best here for you to buy. The judges are made up of highly skilled, knowledgeable and trained individuals who test the car using various methods on a test track to determine which of the chosen few in each category are the best to be a finalist

The categories of cars are Budget and Compact, Compact Family, Family, Premium, Luxury, 4×4 Double Cab, Adventure SUV and Performance. With this comes a wide variety of price ranges, meaning that there is a car category that caters to anyone looking for the best buy, according to the experts. There is a bonus category, too, The Motor Enthusiast’s Choice, which is a public vote. It gives the public a chance to vote for a favourite by liking it on social media. The vehicle with the most likes wins, and with that, five lucky voters stand a chance to win an advanced driving course sponsored by Old Mutual Insure and the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists.

In the Budget and Compact category, the two contenders are the Japanese Suzuki Fronx and French Citroën C3. The Compact Family features three contenders: The Chinese maker Omoda C5, the Japanese Suzuki Grand Vitara and the Japanese Toyota Urban Cruiser. The family category sees two contenders, the German BMW X1 and luxury Chinese brand GWM Ora 03. The premium sector has two contenders, The German Mercedes-Benz GLC and Japanese Lexus NX, while the Luxury category sees the two biggest German Rivals, BMW and Mercedes, battle it out with the 7 Series and EQS. South Africans love a good bakkie, so the 4×4 double cab category only sees the German Volkswagen Amarok in its category, while the Adventure SUV sees the Japanese Lexus LX and Indian Mahindra Scorpio N battle it out. The hottest category and most watched segment is the Performance category, which sees 4 of the fastest cars on sale go head to head with one very extreme wildcard that could win. These are the German BMW M2, Japanese Toyota Corolla GR and Honda Civic Type R, with the wildcard being the Ford Ranger Raptor, a performance-oriented bakkie with some serious power.

With testing to fully begin during the first week of March, the judges have their hands full on choosing the best winners, but this is never an easy thing. The evolution of cars to the present has been nothing short of amazing. With advancements in technology, vehicles have become efficient, powerful, safer and environmentally friendly. This makes the judge’s job a lot harder than you think because consumers are spoiled with materials and value for money better than ever before. Judges will look at materials used for comfort, cheap vs expensive, technologies offered for consumer to make things easier and safer, vehicle performance and if it’s as it should be for the price or not. Everything will be looked at, including various road and stress tests, to ensure that the chosen winner provides the best overall representation for Car of The Year for you, the consumer.

By Matthew Kanniah, Media Influencer,