It's #CarsAwards week and the winners of the 2018/19 Cars.co.za Consumer Awards – powered by WesBank will be announced at a prestigious gala event to be held in Johannesburg on Thursday, 24 January 2019. The finalists (3 in each of the 13 respective categories) were selected out of 65 vehicles (semi-finalists) that Cars.co.za’s extended editorial team agreed were the best derivatives available in the South African new passenger vehicle market on 1 September 2018.
Now in its 4th year, the #CarsAwards was conceived to be South Africa's definitive automotive awards programme and is backed, for the 3rd year running by the country's leading supplier of vehicle finance, WesBank. To determine the finalists, the extended editorial team trimmed the number of candidates per category from 5 to 3 by evaluating them against predetermined pillars of success.
How to watch the #CarsAwards
We will be streaming the #CarsAwards event live on the Cars.co.za YouTube channel from 7:30 PM, so make sure you subscribe! You can also follow us on Twitter and Instagram to get running updates on the night as well as pictures and videos from the red carpet. You can engage with us across all our social media channels using the hashtag #CarsAwards.
Volkswagen steals the march
No fewer than 18 vehicle brands are represented in the list of finalists, with Volkswagen leading the nominations with 7 derivatives, followed by BMW and Ford (4 apiece), and Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo (3 apiece). Significantly, Porsche and Isuzu make their first appearances in the final stage of the #CarsAwards programme, while Honda and Range Rover return to the list of 39 after failing to make the last round in 2017/18.
Because candidates were selected from the entire new passenger vehicle market, instead of only models launched during the past 12 months, it’s unsurprising that there are as many as 17 returning finalists from last year’s programme (including 7 of the eventual category winners). However, only the particular derivatives of the Audi A5 Sportback and Q5, Toyota Fortuner, Volkswagen Amarok and Volvo S90 are unchanged.
The next phase of the programme will take place on 1 and 2 November 2018, when all the vehicles that are listed as finalists will be judged back-to-back (against the rivals in their categories) during a 2-day test session at Gerotek. The judging panel is diverse: it includes the experienced motoring journalists of the Cars.co.za extended editorial team, as well as 14 respected and influential guest judges, with a broad base of expertise.
The importance of after-sales service
However, the findings of the 20 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, which is conducted in partnership with leading data specialists Lightstone Consumer. The data incorporates feedback from thousands of vehicle owners, based on their experiences of their own vehicles, which are less than five years old and serviced through franchised outlets.
In other words, the experiences and perceptions of South African vehicle owners have a significant impact on which 13 category winners will be announced early next year, and, importantly, their feedback will completely determine the 2018/19 Brand of the Year, won for the past two years by Suzuki.
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
The 2018/19 #CarsAwards finalists in their respective categories are:
Budget Car (under R200 000)
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.
Compact Hatch (R200 000 – R300 000)
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.
Adventure SUV (R550 000 – R700 000)
We’re looking for the ultimate recreational vehicle to transport a family and 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.
Compact Family (R300 000 – R400 000)
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.
Family Car (R400 000 – R500 000)
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.
Leisure Double Cab (R500 000 – R800 000)
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.
Business Class (R600 000 – R800 000)
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.
Executive SUV (R700 000 – R900 000)
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)
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.
Hot Hatch (under R700 000)
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 enthusiasts smiling after every drive, in the way it looks, handles, sounds and, yes, performs.
Performance Car (under 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.
Premium SUV (R1 million – R1.3 million)
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.
Executive Sedan (R800 000 – 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.