The semi-finalists of the Cars.co.za Consumer Awards – powered by WesBank, now in its 4th year, have been announced. The 13 eventual category winners will be selected from this pool of 65 vehicles, which collectively represent some of the best purchasing propositions in the new car market.
In the 1st round of the #CarsAwards, the Cars.co.za extended editorial team selected the 5 best cars in each of the 13 categories devised for this year’s programme. Careful attention was paid to the respective categories' "Filters of Eligibility" and the "Pillars of Success" in order to come to a consensus on the identities of the semi-finalists. All vehicles available on the South African market on September 1, 2018, were eligible, not only new products that were launched in the past 12 months.
To get a greater understanding of how the #CarsAwards work, go here.
"The debate and agreement by consensus is a core pillar of our programme," says Cars.co.za Consumer Experience Manager, Hannes Oosthuizen. "We debate each eligible vehicle within the context of its category, and will not move on until the entire team is in agreement. This means that the selection process encompasses far deeper interrogation (and more exhaustive investigation) than is typical in a 'secret vote' setup."
In the next round, due to take place early in October 2018, the same jury will score each vehicle individually, taking into account the various criteria set out for each of the respective categories. The top 3 finalists per category will then be announced next month, and be put through back-to-back testing at Gerotek in Gauteng early in November 2018, by the entire Cars.co.za Consumer Awards – Powered by WesBank jury. To read more about that process, go here.
Remember, your consumer experience helps pick the eventual winners (as well as the Brand of the Year) of the #CarsAwards via the Cars.co.za Ownership Satisfaction Survey, developed in conjunction with Lightstone Consumer. Relevant data collected from the surveys account for 50% of the final category scores, and 100% for Brand of the Year. To have your say, complete the survey here.
Here are the 2018/19 semi-finalists in their respective categories:
Budget Car (under R200 000)
Last year the entry-level Suzuki Ignis drove away with the Budget Car trophy. Can the flagship 1.2 GLX repeat the victory?
Buying an affordable car should not necessitate compromises in terms of 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. The price cap for this category is R200 000 (on 1 September 2018) and, as always, we've placed an emphasis on safety equipment: dual front airbags and ABS are required features in this category.
For content related to each semi-finalist, click on the car's name.
Compact Hatch (R200 000 – R300 000)
The current champion (Mazda2) faces a tough challenge from these 2 newcomers: the Ford Fiesta and VW Polo.
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 semi-finalists are:
Adventure SUV (R550 000 – R700 000)
To achieve a repeat victory in this segment, the Toyota Fortuner will also have to trounce Isuzu's new mu-X.
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 semi-finalists are:
Compact Family (R300 000 – R400 000)
The popular (and recently updated) Hyundai Creta could stand a strong chance for victory this year.
With household budgets stretched to breaking point, the reasonably affordable contemporary family car has to wear many hats – from compact traffic-dodger, to school-run taxi and even weekend getaway machine. Practicality and spaciousness are important considerations, but so are safety, technology, fuel efficiency and a modicum of lifestyle flexibility.
Note that the current champion in this category, Suzuki's Vitara 1.6 GLX, isn't eligible this year because it is being updated early in 2019. It is therefore not possible for our test team to evaluate the updated car during the November 2018 test days at Gerotek.
The semi-finalists in this category are:
Family Car (R400 000 – R500 000)
With the 2.5 Individual derivative of the CX-5 now too expensive to qualify, can the 2.0 Individual defend Mazda's Family Car title?
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 school-holiday trips to distant locations. In judging this category, we’ve placed particular emphasis on interior flexibility, comfort and safety.
The semi-finalists are:
Leisure Double Cab (R500 000 – R800 000)
Sales of the Mercedes-Benz X-Class have had a slow start in SA, but could the X250d spring a surprise in the #CarsAwards?
In this immensely popular and fiercely contested category of the market, the search is on for the ultimate all-rounder. A leisure double-cab is required to be as many as 5 different vehicles (depending on which task it is required to perform): a luxurious tourer, hardcore off-roader, capable carry-all, family do-all and lifestyle activity machine. This type of bakkie can no longer afford to be too utilitarian and rough around the edges; it's expected to be a highly sophisticated offering.
The semi-finalists are:
Business Class (R600 000 – R800 000)
Will VW's latest stab at the Business Class segment, the dramatic Arteon, be more successful than its Passat sibling?
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 the automotive embodiment of their achievements. The semi-finalists are:
Executive SUV (R700 000 – R900 000)
BMW's new X3 is a strong new challenger for the Executive SUV title.
An Executive SUV is increasingly regarded as the status symbol to have, therefore 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 priorities, as is a cabin that features upmarket materials and the most up-to-date technology. The semi-finalists are:
Premium Compact (R450 000 – R600 000)
Can a premium crossover such as Volvo's XC40 beat "traditional" contenders such as the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and VW Golf?
This category replaces the previous "Premium Hatchback" segment. Buyers of traditional upmarket hatchbacks are increasingly also considering fashionable crossovers, so it only makes sense to group them together into 1 category. Stylish and sophisticated, yet practical enough for most motoring needs, these are the cars for upwardly mobile go-getters. 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 semi-finalists are:
Hot Hatch (under R700 000)
In this new category, could Honda's fiery Civic Type R score a victory for the Japanese marque?
With very few compact fun cars currently available in South Africa, our focus falls on the traditional hot hatch, which offers sportscar-humbling performance, while retaining an admirable measure of practicality. In this new category, we’re looking for a total package that is not outlandishly priced. This is one for the petrolheads – a car that must leave die-hard enthusiast smiling after every drive, in the way it looks, handles, sounds and, yes, performs. The semi-finalists are:
Performance Car (under R1 million)
The reigning Performance Car champion, BMW's M2, will compete in updated "Competition" spec this year.
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 semi-finalists are:
Premium SUV (R1 million – R1.3 million)
Porsche makes its first appearance in the #CarsAwards this year, with the new Cayenne competing in the Premium SUV segment.
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 semi-finalists are:
Executive Sedan (R800 000 – R1 million)
With Mercedes-Benz's E350d no longer on price lists, BMW's 5 Series stands a stronger chance of Executive Sedan glory.
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 semi-finalists in this category are: