Why the Porsche Coty controversy sucks

2015-03-20 09:25

Wheels24 published, some months apart, articles that I had submitted in respect of the so-called Porsche controversy.

In those articles I pointed out that readers should at least read the rules and criteria of the SA Car of the Year – which was so well summarised in the Wheels 24 article "What does the jury do?", before setting off on an ever-escalating outcry directed as an attack on the poor South African Guild of Motoring Journalists/judges who were so wrongly criticised.


Despite the remarkable wide range of commentary that followed, it is really disheartening to note that such a high percentage of the commentators have once again demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of the, with respect, correctly formulated simple core rules and criteria of our Coty, namely:   

“During the judging process each finalist is compared to its peers: cars that are sold at similar prices, and are thus natural competitors in the market. While the finalists are a diverse collection of cars from different segments, they are all judged independently of one another – however each one is able to take home top honours. Last year the award went to the Porsche Cayman. Like that winner, this year’s top-scoring car will be one that offers good value for money, superb safety, surefooted driving dynamics, innovative technology, class-leading aesthetics, and excellent efficiency when compared to its natural market competitors. It should also evoke automotive passion and excitement – hallmarks for any iconic car.” (emphasis supplied)

SA Car of the Year - how it works

The fact that each finalist is compared to "other vehicles in its class" - and has mostly nothing to do with the other finalists as such (unless another finalist is in the same class) – is unfortunately still quite clearly completely lost on most readers and commenters.

Similarly ignored is the thorough and diverse testing regime to which each finalist is subjected. As far as I, as a dedicated car enthusiast and petrol head, can establish there is no other country in the world with a Coty competition that can be said to have such an objectively based set of rules and criteria, premised on the only standard that can truly be regarded as being just and equitable.

The decisions of the past two Coty awards (2013 Boxster and the 2014 Cayman S) was subsequently borne from findings of just about every authoritative motoring publication in the world  - and to summarise literally thousands of pages of comparative tests published: "(re the Cayman S )…one of Porsche’s greatest achievements in its all-encompassing, ever-present, entertainment value. If the Boxster is considered the sports-car enthusiast’s gold standard, then the Cayman is rapidly approaching platinum."


Although most petrol heads, me included, are not at all fans of SUV's, the Macan has already similarly trumped its opposition (remember - other vehicles in its class/natural competitors) in comparative road tests done by most of the leading international motoring publications.

So I say WELL DONE PORSCHE! - and given that most readers are at least familiar with Top Gear, it is interesting that the show/publication commented in 2014:  "Porsche is on the hottest of hot streaks right now. The Cayman is virtually unimprovable, the 911 GT3 unforgettable and the 918 genre-defining. In fact, so good is the entire range that we crowned Porsche our Manufacturer of 2013... The final proof we needed that Stuttgart has access to some magical elixir of fast-car goodness…”

One is mindful that most people do not subscribe or even read a the spectrum of accredited magazines but surely with all of the most salient information in this regard a mere click away on the internet, one should be able to expect and hope that readers familiarise themselves with the facts before embarking on a frenzied attack.

Please let us not descend to something like the "most popular/cheapest/most economical/people's choice/most practical" - that function can be served by simple polls that we find on websites every day.

Our SA Coty is much more than that and is something of which to be proud.


Morgan Reddy: Philip Higgo's mail on the deserved win by the Porsche Macan lacked facts or depth. If vehicles in Coty are judged in their class then how do you decide a winner across classes? The general outcry on this is surely an indication that the Coty competition should revisit its relevance to the target audience.

What do you think of the 2015 SA Car of the Year? Do you agree/disagree with PHILIP HIGGO?  Email us  and we’ll also publish your thoughts on Wheels24.


  • John Neutron - 2015-03-20 10:24

    Nobody I know cares Mr. Higo. Its mostly Audi fanboys who are butt hurt over all this. But you will be happy to know that in my world not a tremor was felt. Also, what a great Porsche advert this article is! With this kind of material being dished out, it is not wonder they are on "the hottest of streaks" right now. I hope they hand you something nice for some weekend hooning ..

  • Daniel Mah - 2015-03-20 10:30

    Oh come on Philip, nice try - hope Porsche rewards you for this attempt

  • Khomisani Mashaba - 2015-03-20 10:34

    Mr Higo, you sound like a spin doctor of Coty sponsored by Porsche

  • Jackey Moss - 2015-03-20 10:41

    Cant wait for the Porshe 918 to win the 2016 SACOTY !!! And its a 2 seater that we can all afford.

  • Schalk Pretorius - 2015-03-20 10:46

    I completely understand the concept and idea of the testing and I think it is a great plan, i also understand that this is vehicle segment must be included in the COTY finalist list.where the problem comes in though, would you enjoy driving a entry level spec vehicle after driving the Porsche even if that vehicle is by far better than it's direct competition?

      Japie Fourie - 2015-03-20 13:23

      I totally agree. The correct testing procedure (read correct, not practical) is to test all vehicles in a class, eg. Polo, Yaris, i20, Rio etc), give each one points. Then next week do the same for a different class etc. Then after all models, from all classes was tested, then you'll have imperical data which shows which model performs best when compared to it's rival. To test just the finalists, close to each other, will 9 times out of 10 result in the Luxurious vehicle winning the prize. At the very least a cheap car will have to be perform 30% above it's compatriots, to beat a luxurious vehicle that perform 10% above it's compatriots to win. My suggestion - get proper scientists to work out an empirically sound testing method and then you'll truly get an accurate car of the year.

  • Harold Nkgudi - 2015-03-20 10:56

    Coty is a marketing tool, and nothing else and I think is pretty useless for the man on the street. Just do this simple litmus test. Choose any of your choice and look at the car that won that year.Then look how that bodes today in the market. Then you will see the truth.9 out of 10 of the car that wins are today either dont exist on our roads or just scrap for chickens.

  • Norbert Skosana - 2015-03-20 11:25

    Philip, the real issue is less about whether the rules were applied correctly and more about whether the rules themselves are accurate in producing a COTY that is relevant to the public. Sentiment seems to suggest the rules are not. I fear that COTY is rapidly becoming like Miss South Africa: one of those pageants we once upon a time paid attention to.

  • Ben Kelly - 2015-03-20 11:42

    The problem here is that the cars are measured against their peers and then those scores are then used to determined which one is the best. What the results tell us is that in the Macan's category it is further ahead of its peers than the other cars are in theirs. When a luxury vehicle (not specially a Porsche) wins two year in a row it should have told the guild of motoring journalists that there was something wrong with the judging criteria and fixed it. They should come out now and admit that the criteria are flawed and reevaluate them. Admittedly its almost admirable that an industry that has a reputation for not saying a bad thing about the products they review for fear that the motoring industry cut off their access to their drug of choice (cars and launches and advertising) has managed to resist the pressure from the industry for so long.

  • ST Oculus - 2015-03-20 12:09

    Class-leading aesthetics? Looks very much like the Cayenne which Jeremy Clarkson described as "Honestly, I have seen more attractive gangrenous wounds than this. It has the sex appeal of a camel with gingivitis."

      Craig Beetham - 2015-03-20 19:27

      If you base your motoring opinions on what Jeremy thinks, you shouldn't be commenting on any motor related article.

      Motormanpete - 2015-03-21 11:01

      Yes Craig - I mean what does the host (ex?) of the biggest car show on the planet know about cars. Unlike our Journos, he's hardly driven anything of significance, so yes, his opinion is irrelevant.

  • Adam Fischer - 2015-03-20 13:31

    Oh can all these anti - Porsche, anti-fun, anti-luxury bores just get over themselves? It is Car of The Year. Not "most affordable" or "cheapest get from A to B". Not meant for cars that has the excitement value of a wet rag. Porsche is the deserved winner, for the third year in a row. The fact that some people cannot afford a Porsche is totally irrelevant. The vast majority in this country cannot even afford a new Corolla.

  • Wilo Duke - 2015-03-20 14:56

    What you have justified in this article is why the Coty car of the year competition is an irrelevant contest in the context of motoring in South Africa. The whole idea of a car of the year to the motoring public is so that they can identify with the winner. And as it stands these days, the motoring scribes are also becoming less relevant. There own criteria needs to switch from power and speed to fuel economy and running costs. Then the buying public might just use their opinions when choosing a new vehicle

  • ayo.mkize - 2015-03-20 17:38

    The Coty is a joke every years its Porsche this Porsche that. VW your palm greasing strategy is work just fine. Next year either the A5 or the A7 audis will take the crown.

  • Carlo Fourie - 2015-03-21 01:31

    I don't agree at all with your argumentation. I do agree that the Macan deserves COTY award due to the COTY principles, but this competition has lost its significance for the average SA car buyer - and by that I don't mean a cheap car. But should the COTY award not being divided into categories?? I'm also a petrol head, but I do think that SA's COTY award is running the risk of becoming completely obsolete in the long run. Make it interesting and applicable to the average Joe, or else you'll lose your appeal!

  • Selena Gibson - 2015-03-21 08:57

    How can public criticism be unjustified? Maybe because the public disagrees with the self-serving nature of car of the year? Perhaps

  • Selena Gibson - 2015-03-21 08:57

    How can public criticism be unjustified? Maybe because the public disagrees with the self-serving nature of car of the year? Perhaps

  • Deon Fourie - 2015-03-21 08:59

    I wonder if all the other manufacturers will allow one of their cars to enter as finalist next year, since Porsche, according to the Coty concept is the best car by far (until Porsche's software and plastics are outdated)? This means that Porsche have all the right ticked boxes again next year. What a waist of my time following the so called South African Car of the Year!

  • Renier Meintjes - 2015-03-21 20:36

    The COTY awards have no meaning - totally nothing - Go and look at the sales of the models then we see which cars is the Cars of the year - in each category - let the people of SA choose the cars - this award is a waste of time and money. Maybe Porsche pay their salaries??? or ......

  • Rudi Van Schalkwyk - 2015-03-23 03:36

    " the Macan has already similarly trumped its opposition (remember - other vehicles in its class/natural competitors) in comparative road tests done by most of the leading international motoring publications" - where's the comparative tests of the guild? Show us how you compared the Porsche against its peers!

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