Kyalami – South Africa’s Wesbank/SAGMJ 2017 Car of the Year is the Opel Astra.

The winner was announced at a cocktail banquet at Kyalami on Wednesday night and it beat eight other finalists, namely the Audi A4, Hyundai Tucson, Jaguar F-Pace, Honda Civic, Renault Kadjar, Toyota Fortuner, Volkswagen Tiguan and Volkswagen Passat.

This is the fourth time that an Opel has taken top honours in the competition’s 31-year history, previous winners being the Opel Monza 160 GSi in 1991, Opel Kadett 140 in 1994 and Opel Astra 160iS in 1995.

The latest Astra is no stranger to accolades, being Europe’s 2016 Car of the Year, and the compact hatch also emerged as IOL’s favourite car of 2016, taking the top honours in our annual Best of the Best awards late last year.

“Car buying patterns of the South African public are changing and the Opel Astra reflects those changes in terms of offering both value for money as well as innovative technology,” the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists (SAGMJ) said after announcing the winner on Wednesday night. “Powered by new-generation 1.0-, 1.4- and 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engines which are available in either manual or automatic, the Opel Astra impressed the COTY Jury with its incredible road holding and build quality”.

And there were runners up...

It was a close-fought competition, however. In the end, the Astra garnered a total of 2370.2 points from the jurors, while the second-placed Audi A4 scored 2338.6, only just ousting the Volkswagen Passat (2337.3).

The SA Car of the Year competition is judged by 28 jury members, including IOL’s Jason Woosey. All jurors spent two days evaluating the finalists in a variety of conditions in Gauteng earlier this year.

The jurors then scored each finalist in 12 categories that covered exterior design, interior materials, layout, technology, engine, gearbox, engineering, ride, steering/handling, affordability, value and overall excellence.

SA Coty is not a direct comparison between the finalists, rather the jury members assess each car in relation to its natural market rivals.


Note that since 2016, the award applies to the entire model range rather than an individual derivative.

1986 – Toyota Corolla Twin Cam

1987 – Mercedes-Benz 260E

1988 – BMW 735i

1989 – Toyota Corolla GLi Executive

1990 – BMW 525i

1991 – Opel Monza 160 GSi

1992 – Nissan Maxima 300 SE

1993 – BMW 316i

1994 – Opel Kadett 140

1995 – Opel Astra 160iS

1996 – Audi A4 1.8

1997 – BMW 528i

1998 – Ford Fiesta Fun

1999 – Alfa Romeo 156 T-Spark

2000 – Renault Clio 1.4 RT

2001 – BMW 320d

2002 – Audi A4 1.9 TDI

2003 – Volkswagen Polo 1.4 TDI

2004 – Renault Mégane 1.9 dCi

2005 – Volvo S40 2.4i

2006 – Audi A3 Sportback 2.0T

2007 – Honda Civic 1.8 VXi Sedan

2008 – Mazda2 1.5 Individual

2009 – Honda Accord 2.4 Executive

2010 – Volkswagen Golf 6 1.4 TSI

2011 – BMW 530d and Volkswagen Polo 1.6 TDI

2012 – Hyundai Elantra 1.8 GLS 

2013 – Porsche Boxster

2014 – Porsche Cayman S

2015 – Porsche Macan Diesel S

2016 – Volvo XC90

2017 – Opel Astra