Winners: 2020/21 Consumer Awards – powered by WesBank

20Winners Announced Twitter 01

The Consumer Awards – powered by WesBank made its South African television broadcast debut on Monday when the 2020/21 programme’s 13 category winners and the recipient of the Brand of the Year title were announced on DStv.

Since 2015/16, the winners of the annual #CarsAwards – supported by WesBank, the largest provider of vehicle finance in South Africa – had been announced at a gala staged early in the year, but due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the planned 2021 event could unfortunately not be staged live without putting attendees’ health at risk… 

Therefore, this year’s #CarsAwards winners were presented in the Awards Show TV programme, which was formatted to retain the excitement of a live show. 

“With the 6th edition of the consumer awards (themed “Be Part of the Journey – My Car, My Freedom”), WesBank is proud to be associated with giving consumers the freedom of informed decision making. Our OEMs continue to produce excellent products and we are proud to be part of celebrating their hard work. Well done to all the nominees and congratulations to the winners,” said Ghana Msibi, WesBank’s CEO of Motor. 

The #CarsAwards was conceived to be South Africa’s definitive automotive awards programme and the list of vehicles it recognises is meant to guide car buyers to make the best-informed purchasing decisions... The judging panel evaluates vehicles directly against their peers in specific categories, each of which has particular requirements. What’s more, 50% of the final scores is based on brand-specific after-sales data that incorporate customer feedback from thousands of South African vehicle owners.

Toyota scooped its 3rd Brand of the Year title.


  • By winning the #CarsAwards Brand of the Year title for a 3rd time, Toyota has become the most prolific winner of the programme’s most prestigious trophy. The Japanese marque was previously tied with Suzuki with 2 major titles apiece.

  • Toyota won five of the 13 vehicle categories of the 2020/21 programme, followed by Volkswagen, which got 3 trophies. Although Toyota increased its historic tally of category wins to 9, it still trailed Volkswagen’s total number of wins (19).   

  • Derivatives of the Volkswagen Polo, Golf GTI and T-Cross, as well as the Toyota Fortuner, defended their category victories from the 2019/20 programme. The Golf GTI racked up its 5th category win in the 6-year history of the #CarsAwards, while the Fortuner defended its title for an unprecedented third consecutive year.

  • Although Suzuki didn’t win the Budget Car category for a 5th year in a row, a Swift derivative clinched a category win (Entry Level Car) for a 3rd consecutive time. The Polo 1.0 TSI Comfortline also won its category for a 3rd year in a row.  

  • Land Rover/Range Rover won the Premium SUV category with the new Defender and improved by 12 positions to finish 3rd in the Brand of the Year rankings. 

  • In no fewer than 4 of the 13 categories (Budget Car, Family Car, Hot Hatch and Leisure Double Cab) the judges’ favourites did not win, due to the impact of data from the Ownership Satisfaction Survey – more details to follow.

  • The narrowest victory margin (0.01%) was in the Compact Family Car category; the largest (7.86%) was in Entry Level Car. Premium SUV had the smallest gap between first and third place (0.69%) and Family Car the biggest (11.79%). 

If one counts Land Rover and Range Rover as one (the brands are listed as such in the Brand of the Year rankings), 18 brands were represented in the final round. Toyota and Suzuki led with 5 contenders each, followed by Volkswagen (4), BMW (3) and Volvo (3).

The Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR won the closely fought Hot Hatch category.

Category winners: 2020/21 #CarsAwards – powered by WesBank

Budget Car – Toyota Starlet 1.4 XR

Compact Hatch – Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI Comfortline Auto

Compact Family Car – Volkswagen T-Cross 1.5 TSI 110kW R-Line

Entry Level Car – Suzuki Swift 1.2 GL

Family Car – Toyota RAV4 2.0 AWD GX-R

Adventure SUV – Toyota Fortuner 2.8 GD-6 4x4 VX Auto

Premium SUV – Land Rover Defender D240 HSE

Executive SUV – Volvo XC60 D5 R-Design

Crossover – Toyota C-HR 1.2T Luxury

Premium Crossover – Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design

Hot hatch – Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR

Leisure Double Cab – Toyota Hilux 2.8 GD-6 4x4 Legend Auto

Sports Executive – BMW 330is Edition

Impact of the Ownership Satisfaction Survey

The survey played its role in the results, lifting the Starlet above the Baleno, which was the judges favourite.

Fifty per cent of the final scores of the category finalists was determined by the rankings the vehicles’ respective brands achieved in the Ownership Satisfaction Survey – in partnership with data specialists Lightstone Consumer. The data was based on owners’ experiences of their vehicles (less than for years old and serviced through franchised outlets) and the survey affected the results in four #CarsAwards categories.

The Toyota Starlet (Budget Car) and Hilux (Leisure Double Cab), plus the Volkswagen T-Cross (Compact Family Car) and Golf GTI TCR (Hot Hatch) did not score the highest marks from the panel of judges following the evaluation yet emerged victorious because consumers rated their brands’ experiences higher than those of their competitors.

In the Family Car, Adventure SUV and Crossover categories, the winning cars received both the highest consumer category- and judges’ scores. In Entry Level Car, Compact Hatch, Premium Crossover, Executive SUV, Premium SUV and Sports Executive, the winners received the highest judges’ scores, but not the highest consumer scores. 

Multifaceted judging process

The 39 finalists of the #CarsAwards were selected from the entire passenger-vehicle market (all derivatives listed on the new-vehicles price list on 1 October 2020), as opposed to only models launched during the past 12 months.

Although’s editorial team chose the finalists, the combined judging panel (including 14 respected guest judges from various backgrounds and fields of expertise) only compiled the finalists’ individual scores once they had evaluated the cars back-to-back during a two-day test at the Gerotek testing facility in late 2020. Despite the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, the thoroughness of the evaluation programme, which was supervised by PricewaterhouseCoopers, was not affected.

Brand of the Year

Toyota now heads the Brand of the Year victories count with 3.

As opposed to the 13 category winners, which are decided by a combination of judges’ scores and consumer data, the recipient of the #CarsAwards Brand of the Year title is determined entirely by market data and the findings of the survey (brands’ respective sales and after-sales service ratings are particularly impactful, as are the percentages of purchase-price value the brands’ finalists retained after three years of ownership). 

Although Toyota failed to win a single category during the first two instalments of the #CarsAwards, the Prospecton-based manufacturer famously won the programme’s very first Brand of the Year title in 2015/16. After Suzuki claimed the Brand of the Year title for two consecutive years (2016/17 and 2017/18), Toyota secured the most prestigious trophy again in the 2018/19 programme but finished well behind Volkswagen in 2019/20.

However, having won 5 of the 13 #CarsAwards categories in the 2020/21 #CarsAwards and moving up no fewer than eight places in the Ownership Satisfaction Survey rankings since last year, Toyota won the #CarsAwards Brand of the Year title for a third time. In doing so, it became the most prolific winner of the programme’s most prestigious trophy.

Mini finished second, having moved up 5 positions from 2019/20 and Land Rover/Range Rover was in a sensational third place. Volkswagen was fourth and Isuzu fifth. 

How to watch the show

The Consumer Awards – powered by WesBank television programme took viewers on mini biographical journeys with car owners through a series of short videos that showed how their cars contribute to their freedom of movement and add value to their life stories. It incorporated performances by Ms Cosmo, Leah, Robot Boii and Micasa, with special appearances by Lalla Hirayama, Rob Forbes and Ciro De Siena.

The programme will be repeated on DStv’s 1Magic channel (103) at 21:30 on February 20, as well as at 15:30 and 22:30 on February 23 and 25. There will be further repeats on the Motorsport HD channel (215), the times of which will be confirmed soon.