Golf 1.4 TSI a worthy winner?
VW took only its second South African Car of the Year (COTY) title during a gala banquet in Midrand on Thursday.
In the 25-year history of the South African Car of the Year award it was only the second time a VW product took the title – the previous Wolfburg winner being a Polo TDi in 2003.
After an in-depth poll by members of the South African Guild of Motoring Journalist (SAGMJ), followed by a second vote by the COTY jury, eight finalists were tabled.
These included the Alfa Romeo MiTo 1.4 Turbo, Audi Q5 2.0T S tronic, Chevrolet Cruze 1.8 LS, Hyundai i20 1.6 GLS, Suzuki Alto 1.0 GLS, Toyota Prius 1.8 ECVT Advanced, Volvo's XC60 3.0T Geartronic and eventual winner, VW’s Golf 1.4 TSI.
The judging procedure included two days of extensive testing in February at the world renowned Gerotek vehicle evaluation facility outside Pretoria.
Only cars launched onto the local market from 1 November 2008 and 31 October 2009 were eligible for the 2010 South African Car of the Year title.
Despite a raft of negative sentiment concerning its evolutionary styling when launched onto the local market last year, VW’s Golf 1.4 TSI still carried the day.
The Golf’s advanced forced induction engine technology provides generous power and torque from a relatively small 1.4l capacity engine. Fuel consumption is in-line with a 1.4l engine, yet performance is easily comparable to most naturally aspirated 2l four-cylinder engines – without the larger carbon emission footprint.
Boasting independent suspension at all four wheel corners the Golf 1.4 TSI’s blend of cosseting ride quality and fluid, yet secure, handling dynamics were also notable.
Alfa Romeo fans will obviously be disappointed that the most stylish car amongst the final eight – the MiTo 1.4 Turbo – did not take the title.
Value conscious motorists will counter that Hyundai’s i20 1.6 GLS was the best rand-for-rand offering amongst the finalists.
If the expected local emission tax was already in effect (it's tabled for September this year) the Toyota Prius would have been a virtual certainty for the crown.
As it stands though, VW Golf 1.4 TSI has bragging rights for the next year – backing up its World Car of the Year (WCOTY) win last year.
Despite being initially castigated as simply being nothing more than a marketing directive Golf5 facelift, the sixth incarnation of VW’s family hatchback has now certainly proved the cynical Golf5.5 moniker applied by detractors is of no consequence.
The car’s raft of deep seated (often unnoticed) technical changes and staggering level of refinement has enabled VW’s heartland product to raise the game - yet again. During our experience with the Golf 1.4 TSI, the car reinforced its excellence again and again.
All things considered it’s almost bizarre to tally only two VW COTY victories locally in a quarter century of the competition.
• Previous winners:
1986 Toyota Corolla Twin Cam
1987 Mercedes 260
1988 BMW 735i
1989 Toyota Corolla GLi Executive
1990 BMW 525i
1991 Opel Monza 160 GSi
1992 Nissan Maxima 300 SE
1993 BMW 316i
1994 Opel Kadett 140
1995 Opel Astra 160iS
1996 Audi A4 1,8
1997 BMW 528i
1998 Ford Fiesta Fun
1999 Alfa Romeo 156 T-Spark
2000 Renault Clio 1.4 RT
2001 BMW 320d
2002 Audi A4 1.9 TDI
2003 Polo TDI
2004 Renault Megane 1.9 dCi
2005 Volvo S40 2.4i
2006 Audi A3 Sportback 2.0T
2007 Honda Civic 1.8VXi Sedan
2008 Mazda2 1.5 Individual
2009 Honda Accord 2.4 Executive