And then there were 39! Cars.co.za is proud to announce the finalists of the 2017/18. Cars.co.za Consumer Awards – powered by WesBank. The finalists (three in each of 13 respective categories) were selected out of 65 vehicles that seven members of Cars.co.za’s extended editorial team agreed were the best derivatives available in the South African new vehicle market on 1 September 2017.
To reduce the selection of vehicles per category from five to three, the same team ranked the contenders by evaluating them against predetermined pillars of success in each category.
No fewer than 20 brands are represented in the list of finalists, with the Volkswagen Group leading the nominations with 10 derivatives (Audi and VW have five apiece), followed by the BMW Group (four). Significantly, Alfa Romeo, Kia, Mitsubishi, Peugeot and Subaru make their first appearance in the final of the #CarsAwards in this (third) iteration of the programme.
The next phase of the programme will take place on 1 and 2 November 2017, when a combined panel (the Cars.co.za editorial team and 11 respected and experienced guest judges from a variety of backgrounds) will evaluate the finalists back-to-back during a two-day test at Gerotek.
The importance of after-sales service
However, the findings of the 18 judges will only count for half of the finalists’ total scores – the remaining 50% will be based on rankings that the respective vehicles’ brands achieved in the Cars.co.za Ownership Satisfaction Survey, in partnership with leading data specialists Lightstone Consumer. The data incorporates feedback from thousands of vehicle owners, based on their experiences of their vehicles (less than five years old and serviced through franchised outlets).
"Several strong new candidates were launched in the past 12 months, so the judges had their work cut out in the first two phases of this year's awards programme,” says Cars.co.za consumer experience manager Hannes Oosthuizen.
“But choosing class-leading products is only half of the story. After-sales service make up the other half. Ultimately, the judges have only 50% of the say, with data from the Cars.co.za Ownership Satisfaction Survey – in partnership with Lightstone Consumer – accounting for the rest, which gives a voice to the people who know their cars best: South Africa’s vehicle owners.
"The scene is set for an interesting final test routine and judging," he adds. “We urge all South African car owners to complete the survey. We want real, credible input, and the only way to do that is for the public to give us their views on the cars they know best – the ones they own.”
WesBank, which finances the majority of private vehicle purchases in South Africa, is the headline sponsor of the Cars.co.za Consumer Awards for a second consecutive year. Members of the public can follow developments of the Cars.co.za Consumer Awards – powered by WesBank on Cars.co.za and its social media channels (content bearing #CarsAwards hashtag).
To participate in the Cars.co.za Ownership Satisfaction Survey or access more information about the programme (including categories, judges and finalists) visit http://www.carsawards.co.za
Here are the Finalists in their respective categories:
Budget Car (under R175k)
Buying an affordable car doesn’t mean you should compromise on safety, technology and quality. The winner of this category represents as much good car as possible for the asking price. Value is very important, as are low running costs and all such "common sense" considerations. Given the financial pressure that all South African households face, we've only raised the price cap for semi-finalists to R175 000 this year. ABS and dual airbags are must-have safety requirements. The finalists are:
Compact Hatch (R175k–R250k)
In this extremely competitive category, we’re looking for a balanced offering that is excellent across the board. Cars in this segment must appeal to a very wide audience – from the young professional or family buying up from an entry-level car, to pensioners buying down from something larger and expensive. The winner of this award must truly reflect what is best about modern automotive design and engineering, but present it in a concentrated, reasonably affordable form. The finalists are:
Premium Hatch (R350k–R500k)
Stylish and sophisticated yet, practical enough for most motoring needs, these are the cars for the upwardly mobile go-getter. The winner in this category must not only offer outstanding quality, refinement, performance and the latest technologies, but also broadcast a message of success and ambition. The finalists are:
Compact Family (R250k–R350k)
With household budgets stretched to breaking point, the reasonably affordable modern-day family car has to wear many hats - from compact traffic dodger, to spacious school-run specialist and even weekend getaway machine. Practicality and spaciousness are important considerations, but so are safety, technology, fuel efficiency and a modicum of lifestyle flexibility. The finalists are:
Family Car (R350k–R500k)
The typical family car fulfils a wide variety of duties and needs to be a practical, safe all-rounder. The winner of this category should be ideal not only for the morning school run, but also the school holiday run to a distant location. In judging this category we’ve placed particular emphasis on interior flexibility, comfort and safety. The finalists are:
- Mazda CX-5 2.5 Individual Auto
- VW Tiguan 1.4 TSI Comfortline R-Line Auto
- Peugeot 3008 1.6T GT-Line Auto
Business Class (R500k–R700k)
In this category you will find the type of cars that realistic dreams are made off. We’re looking for an aspirational vehicle that will appeal to the image-conscious driver who places a priority on performance, dynamics, technology and design. The target customers have achieved success and want a car that isn’t only a personal reward, but also one which broadcasts their achievements. The finalists are:
- Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.0T Super
- Audi A5 Sportback 2.0TFSI Sport S-line sports
- BMW 420d Gran Coupe Sport Line sports-auto
Executive Sedan (R700k–R1 million)
These technological masterpieces represent an enviable blend of First Class luxury and comfort, and Business Class technology and dynamic appeal. Prestige is usually a given in this segment, but we’re also looking for significant technological advancement, yet without compromising the level of comfort and quiet style that these sedans are renowned for. The finalists in this category are:
Leisure Double Cab (above R500k)
In this immensely popular and fiercely contested category of the market, the search is on for the ultimate all-rounder. From luxurious touring vehicle, to hardcore off-roader, capable carry-all, family do-all and lifestyle activity machine, leisure double-cab bakkies can no longer be too utilitarian and rough around the edges, but should be highly sophisticated offerings. The finalists are:
- Ford Ranger 3.2 Wildtrak 4x4 Auto
- VW Amarok V6 TDI Highline Plus 4Motion
- Nissan Navara 2.3D LE Auto 4x4
Adventure SUV (R550k–R800k)
We’re looking for the ultimate recreational vehicle to transport a family and all their holiday and lifestyle gear in comfort to almost any destination, on- or off-road. Off-road ability is emphasised, in combination, with practicality, comfort and long-distance cruising. The finalists are;
Executive SUV (R600k–R900k)
Increasingly regarded as the status symbol to have, most premium brands now offer road-biased SUVs that combine prestige and practicality in a package that is characterised by superior refinement. Drivetrain performance and refined road manners are a priority as is a cabin that features upmarket materials and the most up-to-date technology. The finalists are:
Premium SUV (R900k–R1.25million)
Luxurious SUVs may appeal for irrational and emotional reasons such as kerb appeal and status, but at their core they are some of the most sophisticated and capable vehicles on the market. Blending spaciousness with high-tech off-road equipment, powerful engines, as well as luxuriously trimmed cabins, the prestige-badged premium SUV we are looking for in this category should be tailor-made for image- and practicality obsessed buyers. The finalists are:
Fun Car (under R600k)
What is it that makes a car "fun" to drive? Is it purely about performance and handling? To a large degree it is, but for this award category we’re looking for a total package that is not priced in fantasy land. This is one for the petrolheads – a car that must leave the die-hard enthusiast smiling after every drive, in the way it looks, handles, sounds and, yes, performs. The finalists are:
Performance car (R600k–R1 million)
While supercars and other “exotics” are mere fantasies for most, there are cars priced below the magical R1 million mark that offer near-supercar thrills and performance. In this category we are not only looking for sizzling performance, but also driver engagement, whether driven on track or road. The finalists are: