2020 SA Car of the Year - judgement day looms
The contest, organised by the SA Guild of Motoring Journalists, is the oldest car competition in the country. It started in 1986 and the first winner was the Toyota Corolla 1.6 Twin Cam.
In many other countries, the judges simply submit an electronic vote. This is not the case in South Africa. The contest incorporates three days of back-to-back testing, for instance.
These take place on March 8 to 10, when the highly experienced jury members - 25 of South Africa’s top motoring journalists, including IOL and Drive360 staff members - gather to scrutinise the finalists. They will examine every single aspect of each vehicle, from design, technology and engineering to handling, safety and value for money. Dynamic testing will take place at the Zwartkops Raceway.
The 2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year commenced last year when a list of 48 vehicles from 21 original equipment manufacturers that qualified to be named a semi-finalist were announced. The vehicles were all launched in the period from November 1, 2018, up to and including October 31, last year. The journalists and public voted for the semi-finalists. More than 220 000 public votes were received.
After another jury and consumer vote, 14 finalists were announced and while the 2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year is the ultimate accolade, various category wins are also up for grabs. There are seven: family, leisure, lifestyle, premium car, premium SUV, sport and urban.
The most hotly contested is leisure, with four finalists, the Peugeot 5008, Toyota RAV4, Citroën C3 Aircross and Volkswagen T-Cross. The Premium SUV category is also well populated, with three finalists, the BMW X5, Jaguar I-Pace and Mercedes-Benz GLE. The Hyundai Atos and Suzuki Swift Sport are fighting for the laurels in the urban category while the Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla hatch are gunning for the family category.
There is one finalist in each of the remaining three categories: the BMW 3 Series is the finalist in the premium car category, the sport/performance category has the Toyota GR Supra as its finalist and the Ford Ranger Raptor is the sole finalist in the lifestyle category.
The ultimate winner is anyone’s guess. Current World Car of Year, the Jaguar I-Pace, must be in with a chance but it faces stiff competition from the other 12 finalists.