The 2023 South African Car of the Year is… technically not a car

Published Jun 1, 2023


Johannesburg - The Ford Ranger has emerged as overall winner of the 2023 South African Car of the Year competition, sponsored by Old Mutual Insure.

This is the first time in the 37-year history of the competition that a bakkie has won, and while the idea might seem strange to some, it fits the ethos of the contest down to a tee.

Car of the Year is all about excellence and innovation, and celebrating vehicles that push the boundaries in their segments, and in many ways the Ranger has done that within the one-tonne segment. Watch the live reveal below:

Ford also managed to scoop second place in the competition with its latest Everest, essentially an SUV version of the Ranger, while the Mercedes S-Class took third place overall.

But it wasn’t just a three-horse race as the organisers announced eight category winners, which ultimately make the competition relevant to the widest spectrum of car buyers possible.

Here we saw a Chinese contender, the new BAIC X55, take a surprise win in the hotly contested Compact Family category, while the Kia Sportage and Sorento SUVs took the midsize and premium categories.

2023 Category Winners

  • Compact Family: BAIC X55
  • Midsize: Kia Sportage
  • Premium: Kia Sorento
  • Adventure SUV: Ford Everest
  • Double Cab: Ford Ranger
  • Luxury: Mercedes S-Class
  • Performance: Audi RS3
  • New Energy: Volvo XC40 Recharge

Further to that the Mercedes S-Class was handed the Juror’s Excellence award for scoring the highest among the jurors, while the Motor Enthusiast’s Choice, a public voting award, went in favour of the Chery Tiggo 8.

But when the overall winner was announced at an event in Johannesburg on Thursday night, the overall feeling in the room was that it was about time that a bakkie won.

"Over the past decade, the popularity of SUVs and Double Cabs has skyrocketed at the expense of sedans,” said SA COTY Chairperson Mabuyane Mabuza.

“Double cab bakkies have become a common choice for everyday commuting, family adventures and various work applications, providing a popular solution for South Africans' mobility demands," Mabuza added.

The COTY competition is staged by the South African Guild of Mobility journalists and this year saw 21 finalists competing for overall honours.

The team of 27 jurors, which included IOL’s Jason Woosey, were tasked with judging each in relation to their most direct rivals in the market, rather than against each other or even against their fellow category members.

In addition to the jury voting, which took place in April after two days of intensive road and track driving in Gauteng, the competition also has an automated scoring component, which takes value for money factors as well as market sales into consideration.

Click here to read more about this year’s Car of the Year testing process.

Previous South African Car of the Year winners

2022: Toyota Corolla Cross

2021: Peugeot 2008

2020: Jaguar I-Pace

2019: Mercedes-Benz A-Class

2018: Porsche Panamera

2017: Opel Astra

2016: Volvo XC90

2015: Porsche Macan S Diesel

2014: Porsche Cayman S

2013: Porsche Boxster

2012: Hyundai Elantra 1.8 GLS

2011: VW Polo 1.6 TDI and BMW 530d

2010: VW Golf 6 1.4 TSI Comfortline

2009: Honda Accord 2.4i Executive

2008: Mazda 2 1.5 Individual

2007: Honda Civic 1.8 VXi

2006: Audi A3 Sportback 2.0 TFSI

2005: Volvo S40 2.4i

2004: Renault Mégane 1.9 dCi

2003: VW Polo 1.4 TDI

2002: Audi A4 1.9 TDI

2001: BMW 320d

2000: Renault Clio 1.4 RT

1999: Alfa Romeo 156 T-Spark

1998: Ford Fiesta Fun

1997: BMW 528i

1996: Audi A4 1.8

1995: Opel Astra 160iS

1994: Opel Kadett 140

1993: BMW 316i

1992: Nissan Maxima 300 SE

1991: Opel Monza 160 GSi

1990 - BMW 525i

1989: Toyota Corolla GLi Executive

1988: BMW 735i

1987: Mercedes-Benz 260E

1986: Toyota Corolla GLi

IOL Motoring

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