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And the SA Car of the Year is…

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Porsche SA CEO Toby Venter poses with the winning car. Adell@motorpics.

This year's South African Car of the Year competition has produced a shock result, with the Porsche Boxster becoming the first sports car to win the prestigious prize.

The winner of the competition, sponsored by WesBank and conducted by the SA Guild of Motoring Journalists, was announced at a gala dinner at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on 6 March.

FINAL SCORING

Porsche Boxster - 221 votes

Range Rover Evoque Si4 Dynamic 5dr - 181

Toyota 86 High Spec - 177

Kia Rio 1.4 TEC Hatch - 144

Lexus GS 350 EX - 143

Hyundai i30 1.8 Executive - 106

BMW 320i Automatic - 104

Nissan Juke 1.6 DIG-T Tekna (leather) - 79

Opel Meriva 1.4T Cosmo - 67

Ford Ranger 3.2 XLT 4X4 DC AT - 56

Toyota Yaris 1.5 HSD Xs - 47

Mercedes-Benz B180 CDI 7G-DCT - 35

REDEFINING ITS MARKET SEGMENT

This is no doubt proving to be a controversial result, many arguing that a niche car like the Boxster is not enough of an 'all-rounder' to win the title, but if one looks at the guild's definition of a Car of the Year winner then it is totally legitimate.

Primarily, the SA COTY competition, which has been run each year since 1986, rewards automotive excellence and the winning vehicle must score highly in its own class, not against the other finalist vehicles, as is often thought, across a variety of categories including value for money, safety, dynamics, technology and aesthetics.

The Boxster has redefined its market segment, according to the jury of 30 motoring journalists, and “raised the bar in terms of performance, dynamics, quality, value and desirability”, to beat the other 11 finalists for top honours.

The points-scoring system used for the South African competition is similar to that used in the European COTY equivalent. But whereas many of these international competitions simply ask the jury members to cast a vote based on their previous experiences, our competition sees the jury members pit each of the finalists through stringent testing at the Gerotek testing facility in Gauteng.

SPECIFICATION CONTROVERSY

This year, for the first time, the jury also voted to apply an equaliser to the results after a number of finalist manufacturers failed to adhere to the Car of the year rule of supplying vehicles in standard specification for evaluation purposes.

Many of the test vehicles featured what the jury believed to be unreasonable levels of optional equipment. In some cases this included technological innovations that improve the vehicle's ride and handling characteristics.

The cars in question were evaluated and voted for in the condition in which they were delivered; however the guild then applied a mathematical equation to the final votes in order to compensate for any advantage that the vehicles may have gained due to their increased spec levels.

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