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2018 SA Car of the Year: Judging the finalists

2018-02-01 07:00

Image: Wheels24/Janine Van Der Post

Janine Van der Post

Wheels24's Janine Van der Post, one of the jury members for the 2018 SA Car of the Year competition, tests the finalists in Johannesburg.

Midrand - The finalists participating in the 2018 SA WesBank Car of the Year competition were put through their paces during a two-day test programme in Gauteng.  

Judging kicked off in Midrand at the Kyalami GrandPrix Circuit on Monday (Jan 29), followed by on-road testing from the Velmore Hotel Estate in Erasmia on Tuesday.

The two day test marks the final round of the competition before the 26-member jury lock in their votes for this year's winner. The top cars follow a vote cast by Jury, from an original list of 35 eligible vehicles.

The South African Guild of Motoring Journalists (SAGMJ) announced the finalists for the 2018 WesBank South African Car of the Year (COTY) competition earlier in 2017. 

Wheels24's Janine Van der Post is one of the 26 jury members.

Here are her thoughts on the 10 finalists:

Audi Q5

The Audi Q5 has been one of the two top performers in the Wheels24 Readers' poll. The German automaker's technology and simplistic design has always been key highlights. The SUV's 'less is more' approach still ranks rather high in my books. It performed well on track and was great during the on-road evaluation. The Q5 did not rank as high as I thought it would; not that there was anything wrong with Audi's superb SUV its just some cars stood out more.

Image: Wheels24/Janine Van Der Post

Alfa Romeo Giulia

The Giulia was the first top our Readers' poll before it was taken over by the Audi Q5 for quite some time, but has since regained the lead.

The Italian sedan is a stunning car and offers something fresh and dynamic in the market. It is rather pricey in its segment and sells in limited numbers but it proved to be a favourite for some jury members. Depsite its looks being its most charming trait, its handling and performance definitely gives its rivals a good run for their money.  As one of our Wheels24 readers Tony Gunton put it, the Giulia 'puts the heart back into every day motoring.' 

Image: Wheels24/Janine Van Der Post

BMW 5 Series

It's always difficult to judge a car which has a great reputation, especially a vehicle such as the 5 Series. The German automaker excells in driver-assisting programmes and technology, an area where it leads its rivals. 

It definitely rates as one of the 'Top 5' in a group of excellent competitiors. The way the 5 Series is engineered is very difficult to match. Tech such as its autonomous parking puts it a step above the rest, not mention its smooth driving and efficiency.  

Image: Wheels24/Janine Van Der Post

Porsche Panamera

If judging the 5 Series was hard, it's even more difficult to evaluate a sedan that produced by Porsche. Design, technology and creature comforts are exceptionally good in the Porsche Panamera. It's opulent and even the rear legroom is lavish to say the least. While some jury members felt that the 243kW was not exciting enough, strange yes, one has to remember the Panamera 4 is one of the entry-level models in the range. If you’re looking for more brutal power, you’ll have to buy a higher-specced model.  

Image: Wheels24/Janine Van Der Post

Kia Picanto

The litte Picanto stands a good chance, at least from my perspective, to take the title of the 2018 SA Car of the Year. It's definitely one of my favrouites as it ticks all the right boxes on so many levels for a city car. It's affordable, offers great value for money and it's a solid performer. It did surprisingly well on track and road testing, much more than anyone expected. The Picanto competes against the Suzuki Ignis in the competition and the rivalry is fierce. It also goes up against the Toyota Aygo and the Volkswagen Up in its segment. 

Image: Wheels24/Janine Van Der Post

Suzuki Ignis

The Ignis is a little gem of a car; its retro traits are funky and overall it's an extremely adorable car. It comes with stop/start technology which is a step-up from its rivals in its segment. It has loads of quirky features throughout, even its exterior styling raises eyebrows. It drives impecably well but it does tend to struggle when going uphill. 

Image: Wheels24/Janine Van Der Post

Land Rover Discovery

The Land Rover Discovery is another car that has a rich heritage and longstanding reputation. It's off-roading capabilities are rated as best-in-class, and the 'go-anywhere' vehicle lives up to its name. Naturally a vehicle this size didn't score top marks in the dynamic handling test on track but where it lacks on a circuit, it surely made up for this off the beaten track. It feels as comfortable off-road as it does on tar. However, styling of the latest Discovery seems to have lost its edge, and its distinctive looks now seem more akin to the Evoque and Range Rover than the timeless shape of its predecessors.   

Image: Wheels24/Janine Van Der Post

Volvo S90

The S90 is another amazing vehicle that's difficult to critisize. It's extraoridinarly beautiful and it's technology and design is top class. Its engine and gearbox are mated perfectly and offers one of the smoothest drives in its class. It has stiff competition in its segment against the 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Audi A6.

However with other cars viying for the title and doing unexpetedly well in their respective classes, the S90 might just struggle at a shot for the title.

Image: Wheels24/Janine Van Der Post



Toyota C-HR

This compact crossover has assertive and bold styling, something we haven't seen from the Japanese automaker in a while. That 1.2-litre engine is thrilling with 85kW/185Nm.

It comes packed with bells and whistles and also ranked pretty impressive during testing. It's biggest letdown of course is its high pricetag. Despite the latter, I reckon it's one to watch for the title.

Image: Wheels24/Janine Van Der Post


Peugeot 3008

The 3008 SUV definately makes my top 5 list. I absolutely love its exterior styling and its layout and materials used inside the car are superb. Exquisite finishes are a delight in this SUV, and it boasts technology hardly seen before from the French automaker.

Controls behind the steering could be more refined, such as smaller or more integrated paddle shifts and there's some wind noise that could use some tweaking. With all that said, the 3008 delivers a smooth and enjoyable drive. 

Image: Wheels24/Janine Van Der Post

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