CAR OF THE YEAR: The Macan SUV won the 2015 Car of the Year, the third Porsche to grab the SA title in as many years. Now the rules have changed, will it make a difference?Image: Porsche / Newspress
Cape Town - The 20 semi-finalists competing for the 2016 SA Car of the Year (CoTY) title has been revealed following a vote by members of the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists (SAGMJ).
Voting was cast on new vehicles introduced to market within the 2016 Car of the Year eligibility period. Wheels24's Janine Van der Post is CoTY jury member and SA Women's Coty judge.
The SA Guild of Motoring Journalists has run the SA Car of the Year competition since 1986.
Top 20 finalists
The SAGMJ has announced its CoTY semi-finalist: (in alphabetical order)
• Audi TT Coupe
• BMW i3
• Citroen C4 Cactus
• Ford Fusion
• Honda HR-V
• Jaguar XE
• Kia Grand Sedona
• Kia Sorento
• Kia Soul
• Land Rover Discovery Sport
• Mazda 2 Hatch
• Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe
• Nissan X-Trail
• Opel Adam
• Opel Corsa
• Peugeot 308
• Renault Captur
• Suzuki Ciaz
• Volkswagen Golf SV
• Volvo XC90
Voting for the final vehicles has already been concluded by the 2016 SAGMJ jury and will be announced on September 30 2015 in Johannesburg.
What's your favourite car picks for the 2016 Car of the Year? Email us your top three choices and we'll publish your thoughts.
With the aim of rewarding "automotive excellence", the 2016 CoTY Jury will put the finalists through structured testing in early February 2016.
Each vehicle will be scored and measured against its class competitors on aspects that include:
• Value for money
• Safety & technology
• Overall excellence
• Interior design & practicality
• Handling & dynamics
• Exterior aesthetics
Earlier in August 2015, Wheels24 interviewed South African Guild of Motoring Journalists (SAGMJ) chairman, Bernard Hellberg Jr, to clarify how the South African Car of the year (CoTY) competition works.
Hellberg Jr also answered tough questions explaining why Porsche had won the award three years in a row.
The Guild's chairman revealed that the body would review the competition and implement rule changes.
READ 2016 COTY Rules and Regulations
READ 2016 COTY Timeline
The 2016 WesBank / SAGMJ Car of the Year will be announced at an event on March 8 2016.
SA Car of the Year judges, Janine Van Der Post, picks her favourite cars from the top 20 finalists:
Janine-Lee Van der Post - Citroen C4 Cactus, Ford Fusion, Honda HR-V, Volvo XC90
Citroen C4 Cactus - The Cactus is one of my favourite cars in 2015. It has everything you need in an MPV; uber comfort, lots of tech and all the trimmings. It glides on the road and has fold-down trays for kids at the rear. Most important, it's a more affordable choice when it comes to the buying public - prices start from R224 900.
Ford Fusion - I think the Fusion is highly under-rated compared to its rivals. It's packed with gear and has a comfortable drive. What makes it a winner in the sedan segment is its humongous boot. You could probably fit 10 golf bags in there and still have room for more luggage. It's quite a good-looking car too.
Honda HR-V - The HR-V has made a great comeback with in its latest iteration with South African buyers demanding its return. It's more refined, comfortable and offers a great drive. It's a huge improvement when it comes to these fussy CVT transmissions and Honda has done well in this regard. It's great on space, comfort treats and looks good too. The CVT can be temperamental when driven hard.
Volvo XC90 - The XC90 is simply astounding in terms of technology. It does carry a rather steep price tag but its packed with a lot of standard kit and some brilliant features.
It has an in-dash display the size of an iPad - and functions like one too! It self-parks and has the boot space of a tanker when the seats are all folded flat. However, for such a premium car, the ride quality is not on par with rivals and at times can be rather disappointing. My biggest gripe is its price at almost R1million (the cheapest model is priced at R853 200, while the range-topper is R907 600.) It's a worthy contender but realistically the price is a setback.
The rest of the Wheels24 team has chosen our top three picks for the SA 2016 Car of the Year:
Sergio Davids - Volvo XC90, Audi TT Coupe, Land Rover Discovery Sport
Volvo XC90 - It's the most technologically advanced, safest, biggest and most expensive Volvo yet. The Swedish automaker has thrown everything it has into the design of its XC90 to create a truly special SUV.
Apart from its great styling, what sets the XC90 apart from its more popular rivals (BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GL) is its interior and aforementioned tech. Its centre console “tablet” is incredibly intuitive and unique in its class. Also, it can park itself.
Audi TT Coupe - I've had a soft spot for Audi's iconic coupe since its debut more than a decade ago. The new TT sports a revolutionary new digital instrument cluster, R8-inspired design and is an evolutionary new edition of the automaker's stylish coupe.
Interior space is minimal and its rear seats are better suited for grocery bags than people...but then being practical isn't its forte. Its invigorating handling, grin-inducing drive and luxury trim more than make up for its shortcomings.
Land Rover Discovery Sport - Land Rover builds on the success of the Range Rover Evoque to create a compact SUV of its own. Despite its compact dimensions and sleek design, the Discovery Sport is every bit the outdoor explorer as its larger Discovery sibling, though it does suffer from reduce approach/departure angles.
The new Discovery Sport takes everything you've come to expect from Landy's traditional, large SUVs and shrinks it into a more city-friendly package. What's more, its pricetag (starting from R541 000) makes owning a Land Rover that much more attainable.
Sean Parker- Mazda 2, Jaguar XE, Ford Fusion
Ford Fusion – The Fusion left me wanting more after a week-long test. It’s the kind of vehicle that you want to drive more each time you’re behind the wheel. It’s Ford SA’s first large, luxury sedan since the Mondeo. It has a voluminous boot, looks that would make Tom Hiddleston whimper and an adequate 2.0 litre turbocharged unit. My only gripe is the lack of stop/start tech to cut fuel consumption. The Fusion is an outstanding package and my ‘dark horse’ pick for SA Car of the Year.
Jaguar XE - The XE is a very important car for Jaguar, and whether the company has the balls to admit it, the smallest cat in the range will take on the 'Teutonic' three. I drove all three models on launch and what really made me purr was the claws attached to the top of the range version in the form of V6 supercharged unit. It felt engaging, loud and most of all, boasts terrific handling. Made up of mostly aluminium and steel, the XE is the lightest Jag yet and it shows, especially on a mountain pass. Pity about that near million Rand price tag for the range-topping V6 (R908 100)...
Mazda 2 – The second generation Mazda 2 has grown up substantially to offer a premium hatchback with a superb engine and a well laid-out interior. I was impressed by the torquey Skyactiv-D 1.5 litre diesel. Coupled with a five-speed auto it proved to be quite economical. The Mazda is my top choice because it offers great value at a good price.