It's a long process over many months but the SAGMJ Car of the Year was named during a banquet in Johannesburg. And the winner was... as predicted by Wheels24's reader survey, the Hyundai Elantra 1.8 GLS.The sleek medium sedan was also voted US Car of the Year.The Elantra is the first Korean car to be named the SA Coty though Hyundai has had two finalists - the ix35 and Sonata in 2011 - and the i20 was a finalist in the 2010 Coty competition.'GIANT STRIDES'Alan Ross, MD of Hyundai Automotive SA, said after receiving the Car of the Year trophy: “We are extremely proud of the recognition that a world-class product such as the Hyundai Elantra has received from the guild.“This award, and the fact that we had two finalists in the previous competition, is confirmation of the giant strides Hyundai has made locally and globally. It is also recognition of the quality and emotional appeal that the Hyundai products have developed as part of the brand’s ‘Modern Premium’ strategy.”Since its South African launch in August 2011, the current Elantra has become a leader in its model segment and gained recognition as a sedan more than sufficiently equipped to take the brand to “the next level”.Choosing the SA Car of the Year involves dozens of members of the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists, the men and women who monitor the local auto trade throughout the year on your behalf, driving dozens of cars as part of their job and gaining a deep insight into the state of modern automotive technology.PREVIOUS YEARSThe competition has a heavy weighting towards value for money - not always easy to decide among the 10 finalists whittled down from perhaps hundreds of possibilities from more automakers than ever before in this country. The judges' data is carefully monitored and analysed; the individuals trying hard not to be swayed by high performance, super-luxury and extrovert gadgetry.Which is why in previous years super-sedans have lost out to small family cars.Below are the 10 2012 finalists as shown in the voting list for Wheels24's own readers' survey which ran for nearly six months that show how the public voted as a percentage of the total vote and the actual votes cast. If you were among the voters, we thank you for your participation; if you feel strongly about the results of the Wheels24 survey and the results of the SAGMJ judging, tell us about it in the Readers' Comments section below this report.1 Hyundai Elantra 28% 74742 Ford Focus 25% 65223 Alfa Romeo Giulietta 11% 30064 Volkswagen Jetta 11% 28745 Audi A6 7% 18916 Mercedes-Benz SLK 5% 13657 Kia Picanto 4% 11238 Suzuki Kizashi 4% 11049 Citroen DS4 3% 80310 Peugeot 5008 1% 239The SAGMJ jury voted this way..1 Hyundai Elantra2 Kia Picanto3 VW Jetta4 Suzuki Kizashi5 Alfa Romeo Guiletta6 Audi A67 Ford Focus8 Citroen DS49 Peugeot 500810 Mercedes-Benz SLKSo, if you're in the market for one of those cars over the next year, you have two excellent guides on what to choose within your budget. Whatever it turns out to be, we wish you safe driving in what could well be the car of your dreams.And remember, the first thing you do when you slip into your seat, front or rear, driving or otherwise, is fasten your seatbelt. Please!