We’re on the hunt for the best compact executive car in the new vehicle market. These are the Business Class semi-finalists for the Cars.co.za Consumer Awards – powered by WesBank!
The second annual Cars.co.za Consumer Awards – now powered by WesBank, is underway and the 65 semi-finalists across 13 categories have been chosen. Make sure you visit the Cars.co.za Consumer Awards – powered by WesBank website for all the vehicle and category information and also be sure to follow us on Twitter (@CarsSouthAfrica), Facebook (CarsSA) and Instagram (carssouthafrica) for the latest updates.
The Cars.co.za Ownership Satisfaction Survey, in partnership with leading data specialists, Lightstone Consumer, forms an integral part of the awards programme, with the survey accounting for 50% of the final result in each category. The brand-specific data incorporates feedback from thousands of South African new vehicle owners, based on their experiences of their vehicles (must be less than 5 years old and serviced through franchised outlets).
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 customer has achieved success in their career and seeks to purchase a car that broadcasts their achievements.
For a car to be considered in this category, the following criteria apply: the listed price must be between R500 000 and R750 000 at the time of semi-finalist voting (September 1, 2016); the fitment of trim lines and optional extras must collectively not push the price over R750 000. Safety features are important and the vehicle must have 6 airbags (if optional, the price of these items, together with all other options, must not push the total price over R750 000) as well as ESP (if not fitted as standard, this feature must be available as an optional extra and specifiable without the price exceeding R750 000).
The semi-finalists in the Business Class category of the Cars.co.za Consumer Awards – powered by WesBank are (in no particular order):
Jaguar XE 20d R-Sport
Jaguar finally has a strong competitor in the important Business Class segment with the dashing XE. It prioritises athleticism and also comes with a healthy dose of exclusivity. Is this the car to break the German premium brands’ choke hold on this segment? The XE debuted the brand’s new Ingenium generation of engines in South Africa.
The 2.0-litre, turbodiesel 4-cylinder delivers a strong 132 kW and 430 Nm of torque, which, in combination with the smooth 8-speed automatic transmission, delivers brisk performance. Jaguar claims a 0-100 kph time of 7.8 seconds, as well as a 228 kph top speed. But it’s the XE's in-gear acceleration, courtesy of the motor's torque wave, that leaves a lasting impression. Oh, and of course, good fuel economy: Jaguar claims a combined cycle consumption figure of 4.2 L/100 km.
Mercedes-Benz C250 AMG Line
The World Car of the Year-winning Mercedes-Benz C-Class continues to be a comfortable frontrunner in this segment. Let’s not forget it’s our reigning champion in the Consumer Awards! We’ve again selected the C250 AMG Line model, as it combines the brand’s lively 2,0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine with sporty AMG detailing, all at a very good price.
The C250 is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivers 155 kW and 350 Nm of torque. Mercedes-Benz shares this engine with Infiniti, but in the C-Class the maximum torque figure is available over a wider engine rev range than in the Q50. The C250 is also slightly faster (0-100 km/h in 6.6 sec) and economical (5.9 L/100 km).
Audi A4 2.0T FSI Sport S tronic
Given the importance of the A4 for Audi, it is understandable that the Ingolstadt-based brand would take its time to get this model just right. With an updated BMW 3 Series and superb Mercedes-Benz C-Class to contend with, it had to be good and, based on our experience with the new model thus far, it is indeed a strong challenger for best-in-class honours.
Before we discuss the abilities of the powerplant, bear in mind the A4’s body is around 120 kg lighter, which aids performance and efficiency. In this application, there’s a 2.0-litre turbocharged motor under the bonnet (anoraks will note it’s the EA888 unit, as found in the Volkswagen Golf GTI). In this derivative, the motor produces 140 kW and 320 Nm.
BMW 330d M Sport sports-auto
Does the BMW 330d strike the perfect balance between fuel efficiency and a thrilling driving experience? And, if so, could it be the best 3 Series derivative? Whereas the upper end of the business class sedan market used to be dominated by 6-cylinder motors, the 330d, with a 3.0-litre straight six turbodiesel motor under its bonnet, is now the odd one out – its direct rivals have 2.0-litre 4-cylinder powerplants.
Nonetheless, at the 330d's price point, a performance-oriented turbodiesel derivative is particularly appealing when you factor in the fuel economy advantage it offers over a similar-capacity turbopetrol engine. Bear in mind that the car is reported to have a 5.6 second 0-100 kph time and an average claimed fuel consumption of just 4.9 L/100 km!
Volkswagen Passat 2.0TSI R-Line
Volkswagen is a much-loved brand in South Africa, but the Wolfsburg-based firm has yet to convince local car buyers that it should be taken seriously in all of the premium segments. The latest Passat, however, represents such a convincing stab at the heart of the Business Class, that we believe it deserves a shot at the crown.
This derivative is fitted with the top-of-the-range 2.0-litre turbopetrol engine. It produces peak outputs of 162 kW and 250 Nm of torque and is mated with a refined 6-speed DSG transmission. These outputs are higher than of those cars priced around it, and consequently, this Passat has decidedly performance-oriented feel. It blitzes the 0-100 kph sprint in a claimed 6.7 seconds and reportedly has a top speed of nearly 250 kph!