2003 Car of the Year, VW Polo 1.4 TDI
Yesterday (Monday) at a hard-hitting final meeting of the jury - all full-time motoring journalists - a list of 13 cars submitted after months of polling of the whole guild membership, as well as detailed analysis by a special validation committee, and a postal vote by the jury, was whittled down to seven cars.
Initially it had been expected that eight would be the cut-off point, but the jury decided on seven after discussing the merits of the eighth car.
As a jury member I am not allowed to reveal what the 13 cars were, and what the discussion revolved around.
But what I am prepared to say is that I am now very happy with the finalists, and would be satisfied to see any one of them take the title.
Once more diesel cars are prominent, but at opposite ends of the price spectrum, and for the first time one manufacturer has two cars in the final tally, albeit, again, aimed at totally different markets.
Diesel cars have won the competition for the last three years in a row, starting with the BMW 320d in 2001, the Audi A4 1.9 TDi in 2002, and the Volkswagen Polo 1.4 TDi this year.
The finalists are (alphabetically):
Honda Accord Type S
Honda Jazz 1.4
Mazda 6 2.0 Elegant
Renault Megane 1.9 dCi
Toyota RunX 1.6 RX
And once more a member of the public can win the use of the 2004 Car of the Year - one of the above - by simply predicting the winner and making a phone call (at cell phone rates).
All you need to do is call 082 288-2004 and predict which of the seven finalists will be awarded the coveted Wesbank trophy.
Votes are limited to one car per phone call, but there is no limit on how many times you may enter or how many cars you may vote for.
The winner will have the use of the car for 12 months at no cost. This will include servicing, fuel and insurance.
However, the winner will be responsible for the insurance excess in the event of a claim.