SA Car of the Year controversy explained

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 CAR OF THE YEAR EXPLAINED: SAGMJ chairman Bernie Hellberg Jr explains how the South African Car of the Year works. Image: Porsche / News24 ~ Supplied

CAPE TOWN - Porsche has dominated the South African Car of the Year awards for the past three years. 

When the Porsche Boxster won in 2013 it caused quite a stir in the motoring industry and the public took to social media to voice their concerns.

The controversy escalated in 2014 when the Cayman S won the coveted award. The topic of SA CoTY has become unpleasant since the premium automaker scooped a hat-trick when its Macan S Diesel won the title in 2015.


Wheels24 spoke to Bernard Hellberg Jr, chairman of the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists, to explain how the competition works and share his views on the controversy.

Reader response: 'SA Car of the Year misses the point'

Hellberg also announced possible changes to the voting criteria ahead of the 2016 competition, the finalists of which will be announced towards the end of 2015.

Watch: SA Guild of Motoring Journalists chairman explains Coty process


Hellberg said: “We’re not trying to look for the cheapest car, or the best car for the member of the public to buy. We’re trying to find, at that point in time, the car that best represents the pinnacle of motoring excellence. It includes various things such as technology, engineering, aspects of generally pushing the envelope of motoring.

“It’s not about saying to the public – 'You need to buy this car'. It’s about saying, if you want to see where technology is going, where the best technology is at this moment, in this year, look at this car as an example.

“We don’t expect people to buy the car and that’s why the value of the car is not important. What is important is whether the value of that car competes within its segment.”

Hellberg also added: The finalists are different cars in their own rights. They do not compete with one another."

Watch: SAGMJ chairman outlines changes to SA COTY

What do you think of the SA Car of the Year awards? Do you think the competition could be improved? Email us  and we'll publish your thoughts on Wheels24

Read more: What does SA CoTY jury actually do?