South Africa’s premiere motoring journalists have voted. So too have members of the public. The votes have been tallied and 25 semi-finalists have been announced for the 2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year competition.
One of these semi-finalists will win the most sought-after title in the South African automotive industry, that of 2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year. These vehicles will also vie for one of seven category wins – namely Family, Leisure, Lifestyle, Premium Car, Premium SUV, Sports/Performance, and Urban. “The 25 vehicles hail from 16 different car manufacturers, and they include anything and everything from family runabouts to sports cars, and from luxurious sports utility vehicles (SUVs) to bakkies,” reveals Rubin van Niekerk, chairman of the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists (SAGMJ).
Some of the vehicles on the list have already won major international accolades. The Jaguar I-Pace, for instance, made history when it won an unprecedented three awards – World Car of the Year, World Green Car and World Car Design of the Year – at the 2019 World Car Awards. “Were it to win the 2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year title, it would be the first electric car to take top honours in the 34-year old competition,” notes AutoTrader CEO, George Mienie.
The Mazda3 has just been named supreme winner at the 2019 Women’s World Car of the Year awards. It has won the 2019 Thailand Car of the Year and the 2020 China Car of the Year. The Toyota Corolla has just been named a 2020 European Car of the Year finalist.
AutoTrader became the title sponsor for the competition, organised by the SAGMJ, in 2019 – and it has facilitated the successful consumer vote. According to Mienie, public interest in the competition is intense. “This year, the number of public votes by AutoTrader’s car buying consumers has more than doubled. This is a clear indication that South Africans want to have their say in these top motoring awards,” he comments.
And which vehicle did they vote for? “Of all the semi-finalists, the car that received the most public votes was the Mazda3,” Mienie reveals.
Now that the semi-finalists have been named, voting for the finalists will commence; for the first time in the competition’s history, consumers will be able to vote alongside motoring experts. A special event in Johannesburg on December 4 will reveal which cars make up the 14 finalists.
This event will be followed by the test days in March 2020, when 27 of South Africa’s top motoring journalists will put the vehicles through their paces. According to Van Niekerk, this is one of the most important components of the competition. “In most other competitions in the world, journalists don’t get together and actually drive the vehicles. They simply score them electronically or on paper. We spend two full days evaluating every single aspect of each finalist – from design, technology and engineering to handling, safety and value for money. Then we do the final scoring. Our methodology is both thorough and extremely scientific, and it will yield the most deserving category and overall winners,” he promises.
The category and overall winners will be announced at an event hosted by AutoTrader in April 2020. “It’s going to be interesting to see which vehicles are awarded finalist status – and then go on to triumph when it comes to the category and overall wins,” comments Mienie.
List of 2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year semi-finalists
BMW 3 Series
BMW 8 Series
Citroën C3 Aircross
Ford Ranger Raptor
Hyundai Santa Fe
Mercedes-AMG CLS 53
Mercedes-Benz A-Class Sedan
Suzuki Swift Sport
Toyota Corolla Hatch