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These are the 13 best cars in SA

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The 2016/17 Cars.co.za Consumer Awards program recently concluded with the announcement of the thirteen best-considered new purchases in their respective categories of the South African new vehicle market.

Established to be the most prestigious, credible and influential awards programme in the South African motor industry, the second iteration of Cars.co.za Consumer Awards was distinguished by two significant factors: it was backed by the biggest provider of vehicle finance in South Africa and, in conjunction with the 13 judges’ scores, the findings of the Cars.co.za‘s Owner Satisfaction Survey (in association with Lightstone Consumer) had a substantial (50%) weighting on the final results, excluding the Brand of the Year award, which was based entirely on the Survey data.

The winners are:

Premium Hatchback of the Year      Volkswagen Golf GTI DSG

First Class Car of the Year              BMW 750Li Design Pure Excellence

Leisure Double-cab of the Year       Ford Ranger 3.2 Wildtrak 4×4 Auto

Executive Sedan of the Year           Jaguar XF 25t Portfolio

Premium SUV of the Year              Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine Inscription

Business Class of the Year             Audi A4 2.0T FSI Sport S tronic

Compact Family Car of the Year      Suzuki Vitara 1.6 GL+

Fun Car of the Year                        Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport DSG

Lifestyle SUV of the Year                Land Rover Discovery Sport TD4 S

Compact Hatchback of the Year      Opel Corsa 1.0T Enjoy

Budget Car of the Year                  Suzuki Celerio 1.0 GL

Performance Car of the Year           BMW M2 M-DCT

Family Car of the Year                    Volkswagen Tiguan 1.4 TSI Comfortline DSG

Brand of the Year                           Suzuki

Cars.co.za‘s awards programme has a multi-faceted judging process, based on inputs from seven members of the experienced editorial team and six respected guest jurors drawn from specialist fields. The combined jury allocated scores to the three finalists in each category based on their assessments from two test days (on which available vehicles were compared back-to-back).

Once the judges’ scores were tallied and audited, the brand-specific data from the Cars.co.za Owner Satisfaction Survey, which incorporates feedback from thousands of South African new vehicle owners, based on their experiences of their vehicles (must be less than five years old and serviced through franchised outlets), was factored in for the purpose of calculating of the final results.

The prestigious Brand of the Year award, however, was determined solely by brands’ ratings in the Cars.co.za‘s Owner Satisfaction Survey (in association with Lightstone Consumer), which was compiled from thousands of surveys completed between September 2015 and December 2016. Consumers rated the brands in terms of: after-sales service, overall ownership experience and sales processes of its dealerships. Changes in market share were also factored into the final standings.

Highlights from the 2016/17 Cars.co.za Consumer Awards – powered by WesBank

  • Volkswagen dominated with 3 category wins: Premium Hatchback, Family Car and Fun Car
  • BMW and Suzuki won two categories each; it was the first awards garnered by the Japanese brand, which also succeeded Toyota as the overall Brand of the Year for 2016/17.
  • The Cars.co.za Owner Satisfaction Survey had a big impact on the programme; it determined the final results in three of the categories
  • The Volkswagen Golf GTI DSG, Land Rover Discovery Sport and Volvo XC90 defended their titles, although the latter two won with different derivatives than in 2015/16.
  • Certificates of merit were awarded to other brands that finished in the Top Five rankings of the Cars.co.za Owner Satisfaction Survey: Audi, BMW, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota.

 

Complete list of winners:

Premium Hatchback of the Year

Volkswagen Golf GTI DSG

In order to have been eligible for this category, contenders had to meet the following criteria: had to be a C-segment hatchback/crossover with a list price of between R350 000 and R500 000at the time of semi-finalist voting (September 1 2016), including the cost of any of the following features (if they were optional): electronic stability control, dual front, side and curtain airbags. The most important judging factors were: a balance of efficiency and performance, practicality, brand strength, design and quality appeal, ride/handling, safety, as well as in-car entertainment systems and connectivity.

“I’m not surprised the GTI defended its title. Given its blend of occupant comfort, premium features and finishes, plus driving enjoyment, it has a maturity that other hot hatches lack.” – David Taylor

Runners-up: BMW 120i 5-dr M Sport Auto, Mercedes-Benz A220d Style Auto

 

First Class Car of the Year

BMW 750Li Design Pure Excellence

In order to have been eligible for this category, contenders had to meet the following criteria: a list price of more than R1 million at the time of semi-finalist voting (September 1 2016). The most important judging factors were: powertrain technology, luxury features, brand prestige and exclusivity, design and quality appeal, driving dynamics, ride comfort and overall refinement.

“The BMW 750Li Pure Design Excellence was a more than worthy winner in a category filled with equally impressive machines. The new age technology found in the car, coupled with its dashing good looks and presidential appeal, set it apart.” – Francisco Nwamba

Runners-up: Mercedes-Benz S500e L, Range Rover SDV8 LWB Autobiography

Leisure Double-cab of the Year

Ford Ranger 3.2 Wildtrak 4×4 Auto

In order to have been eligible for this category, contenders had to meet the following criteria: had to be a double-cab bakkie with a turbodiesel engine and four-wheel drive, with a list price in excess of R450 000 at the time of semi-finalist voting (September 1 2016). The most important judging factors were performance, space and practicality, occupant comfort, all-surface ability and safety.

“The Ford Ranger 3.2 Wildtrak 4×4 Auto features attractive styling and excellent off-road capability that’s tough to beat in the leisure double cab segment.” – Gero Lilleike

Runners-up: Toyota Hilux 2.8 GD-6 Raider 4×4 Auto, Volkswagen Amarok 2.0 BiTDI Highline 4Motion

Executive Sedan of the Year

Jaguar XF 25t Portfolio

In order to have been eligible for this category, contenders had to meet the following criteria: a D/E-segment sedan (or so-called four-door “coupé”) with a list price of between R750 000 and R1 000 000at the time of semi-finalist voting (September 1 2016). The most important judging factors were: powertrain technology, brand strength, design and quality appeal, driving dynamics, technological features and occupant comfort.

“The Jaguar has an intrinsic elegance to it, which is reflected in its performance and driving experience. Its comfortable, refined cabin underlines its executive sedan status.” – Kojo Baffoe

Runners-up: Mercedes-Benz E220d Avantgarde, Lexus GS 350 F-Sport

Note: The Mercedes-Benz E220d Avantgarde received a zero score from the judges as a test vehicle was not provided for the evaluation days. The brand concerned accepts the decision as fair.

Premium SUV of the Year

Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine Inscription

In order to have been eligible for this category, contenders had to meet the following criteria: a list price of between R750 000 and R1 200 000 at the time of semi-finalist voting (September 1 2016) and it had to be a large SUV (or its crossover derivative) with all-wheel drive as a standard feature. The most important judging factors were powertrain technology, luxury features, brand strength, design and quality appeal, driving dynamics, space and practicality.

“The XC90 was a clear winner in this category. I loved its infotainment system and plethora of on-board technological features; the Volvo embodies a premium driving experience.” – Nafisa Akabor

Runners-up: Audi Q7 3.0 TDI quattro, Jaguar F-PACE 30d R-Sport

Business Class of the Year

Audi A4 2.0T FSI Sport S tronic

In order to have been eligible for this category, contenders had to meet the following criteria: a list price of between R500 000 and R750 000at the time of semi-finalist voting (September 1 2016), including the cost of any of the following features (if they were optional): at least six airbags, as well as electronic stability control. The most important judging factors were powertrain technology, luxury, brand strength, design and quality appeal, driving dynamics and technological features.

“With the new A4, Audi has done the unexpected: it has turned the A4 into something that rivals its competitors in the bends. The newcomer’s interior quality is unrivalled in its class.” – Ashley Oldfield

Runners-up: BMW 330d M Sport sports-auto, Mercedes-Benz C250 AMG Line

Note: The Mercedes-Benz C250 AMG Line received a zero score from the judges as a test vehicle was not provided for the evaluation days. The brand concerned accepts the decision as fair.

Compact Family Car of the Year

Suzuki Vitara 1.6 GL+

In order to have been eligible for this category, contenders had to meet the following criteria: a list price of between R250 000 and R350 000 at the time of semi-finalist voting (September 1 2016), including the cost of any of the following features (if they were optional): ABS, electronic stability control, a minimum of four airbags, air-conditioning, split/folding rear seats and a service plan. The most important judging factors were: balance of fuel economy and performance, space and practicality, design and quality appeal, occupant comfort and safety features.

“The Vitara is an excellent all-rounder, with a level of practicality that you’d expect from a bigger SUV, as well as a smooth engine which delivers excellent fuel economy.” – Ciro de Siena

Runners-up: Nissan Qashqai 1.2 Visia, Renault Captur 1.5 dCi Dynamique

Fun Car of the Year

Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport DSG

In order to have been eligible for this category, contenders had to meet the following criteria: a list price of less than R600 000 at the time of semi-finalist voting (September 1 2016) to ensure that this category isn’t dominated by extravagant exotic vehicles. The most important judging factors were drivetrain engagement, entertaining handling, sensory appeal and the number of standard features.

“The Clubsport made me feel like I was at the wheel of ‘a racing car’. I loved its responsiveness, the exact reactions to driver inputs and, especially, the overall composure of the car.” – Khutso Theledi

Runners-up: Mazda MX-5, Mini John Cooper Works sports-auto

Lifestyle SUV of the Year

Land Rover Discovery Sport TD4 SE

In order to have been eligible for this category, contenders had to meet the following criteria: a list price of less of between R500 000 and R750 000 at the time of semi-finalist voting (September 1 2016), including the cost of any of the following features (if they were optional): electronic stability control, at least six airbags, split/folding rear seats, a minimum ground clearance of 180 mm and all-wheel drive capability.  The most important judging factors in this category were performance, space and practicality, in-car entertainment systems, cabin comfort and all-surface ability.

“The Discovery Sport seems to have it all – a desirable badge, genuine off-road ability, a luxurious and well-made cabin and even excellent performance/efficiency.” – Hannes Oosthuizen

Runners-up: Ford Everest 3.2 4WD Limited, Toyota Fortuner 2.8 GD-6 4×4 Auto

Compact Hatchback of the Year

Opel Corsa 1.0T Enjoy

In order to have been eligible for this category, contenders had to meet the following criteria: a list price of between R160 000 and R250 000 at the time of semi-finalist voting (September 1 2016), including the cost of any of the following features (if they were optional): ABS, electronic stability control, dual front airbags, air-conditioning, USB/Aux audio support and a service plan. The most important judging factors were balance of fuel economy and power/performance, value for money, practicality, brand strength, design and quality appeal, ride/handling prowess and safety.

“The Corsa is just beautiful: It rides comfortably, yet it’s dynamic, corners confidently and is anything but sluggish. There is definitely an element of fun to the car; I could not fault it.”– Wendy Knowler

Runners-up: Honda Jazz 1.2 Comfort, Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TSI Comfortline

Budget Car of the Year

Suzuki Celerio 1.0 GL

In order to have been eligible for this category, contenders had to meet the following criteria: a list price of R160 000 or lessat the time of semi-finalist voting (September 1 2016), including the cost of any of the following features (if they were optional): ABS and dual front airbags. The most important judging factors were: fuel economy, value for money, practicality and brand strength.

“Although the Celerio is not the most spacious car in its segment, its standard specification list is long, the engine feels surprisingly perky and Suzuki’s reputation counts for a lot.” – Mike Fourie

Runners-up: Renault Sandero Expression, Toyota Aygo 1.0 X-Play

Performance Car of the Year

BMW M2 M-DCT

In order to have been eligible for this category, contenders had to meet the following criteria: a list price of between R600 000 and R1 000 000 at the time of semi-finalist voting (September 1 2016) to ensure that the category isn’t dominated by exorbitantly expensive exotic cars. The most important judging factors were: driving engagement, handling, sensory appeal and standard features.

“The M2 is excellent. It’s so powerful that you’d expect it to become easily unhinged, but it’s beautifully composed. It’s certainly engaging to drive. it keeps a driver on their toes.” – Eddie Kalili

Runners-up: Ford Focus RS, Mercedes-AMG A45 4Matic

Note: The Mercedes-AMG A45 4Matic received a zero score from the judges as a test vehicle was not provided for the evaluation days. The brand concerned accepts the decision as fair.

Family Car of the Year

Volkswagen Tiguan 1.4 TSI Comfortline DSG

In order to have been eligible for this category, contenders had to meet the following criteria: an automatic-transmission vehicle with a list price of between R350 000 and R500 000at the time of semi-finalist voting (September 1 2016), including the cost of any of the following features (if they were optional): ABS, electronic stability control, a minimum of six airbags, split/folding rear seats, air-conditioning and a service plan. The most important judging factors were: engine flexibility, fuel economy, space and practicality, design/quality appeal, comfort, safety and in-car entertainment.

“I favour practical cars and there’s so much to like about the Tiguan that I am tempted to buy one for myself. The Volkswagen exudes quality from design to finish and looks fantastic.” – Juliet McGuire

Runners-up: Hyundai Tucson 2.0 Elite Automatic, Nissan X-Trail 2.5 SE CVT AWD!

Brand of the Year

Suzuki

The prestigious Brand of the Year was determined solely by the manufacturers’ ratings in the Cars.co.za‘s Owner Satisfaction Survey, allied with market share change and resale value statistics per vehicle brand (supplied by Lightstone Auto). This recognition of Suzuki Auto South Africa, parallels the feat achieved by its British counterpart, which was recognised as the “most improved organisation’ in The Institute of Customer Service’s annual UK Customer Satisfaction Index in 2016.

Cars.co.za (in conjunction with Lightstone Consumer) has developed the fairest and most credible formula for determining the winner in this category. It is entirely data-driven, and entirely determined by what consumers and the market believe to be happening in South Africa. Although this result may come as a surprise, it mirrors Suzuki’s achievements in other markets.” – Hannes Oosthuizen

 

 

 

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Auto rivals team up for connected car demo

Rivals BMW, Ford and Groupe PSA, maker of Peugeot and Opel cars, have teamed up with the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA), Qualcomm Technologies and Savari for Europe’s first live demonstration of C-V2X direct communication technology operating across vehicles from multiple auto manufacturers.

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The live demonstration also featured a live showcase of C-V2X direct communication technology operating between passenger cars, motorcycles, and roadside infrastructure. C-V2X is a global solution for vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication in support of improved automotive safety, automated driving and traffic efficiency.

The demonstration exhibited the road safety and traffic efficiency benefits of using C-V2X for Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) collision avoidance, as well as Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) connectivity to traffic signals and Traffic Management Centers (TMC). C-V2X was operated using real-time direct communications over ITS spectrum and demonstrated its ability to work without cellular network coverage, and underscores its commercial readiness for industry deployment as early as 2020. Superior performance and cost-effectiveness compared to other V2X technologies, along with forward-compatibility with 5G, make C-V2X direct communications a preferred solution for C-ITS applications.

Six demonstrations were shown including: Emergency Electronic Brake Light, Intersection Collision Warning, Across Traffic Turn Collision Risk Warning, Slow Vehicle Warning and Stationary Vehicle Warning, Signal Phase and Timing / Signal Violation Warning and Vulnerable Road User (pedestrian) Warning. The vehicles involved included two-wheel e-scooters provided by BMW Group, and automotive passenger vehicles provided by Ford, Groupe PSA, and BMW Group, all of which were equipped with C-V2X direct communication technology using the Qualcomm® 9150 C-V2X chipset solution.  V2X software stack and application software, along with roadside infrastructure, were provided by industry leader, Savari.

C-V2X is globally supported by a broad automotive ecosystem, which includes the fast growing 5GAA organization.  The 5GAA involves over 85 global members comprised of many leading automakers, Tier-1 suppliers, software developers, mobile operators, semiconductor companies, test equipment vendors, telecom suppliers, traffic signal suppliers and road operators.  

Cellular modems will be key to the C-V2X deployment in vehicles to support telematics, eCall, connected infotainment and delivering useful driving/traffic/parking information. As C-V2X direct communication functionality is integrated into the cellular modem, C-V2X solutions are expected to be more cost-efficient and economical over competing technologies, and benefit from accelerated attach rates.  C-V2X direct communication field validations are currently underway in Germany, France, Korea, China, Japan and the U.S.

C-V2X currently stands as the only V2X technology based on globally recognized 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) specifications, with ongoing evolution designed to offer forward compatibility with 5G.  C-V2X also leverages and reuses the upper layer protocols defined by the automotive industry, including the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) organization. C-V2X includes two complementary transmission modes: 

  • Direct communication as shown in this demonstration for V2V and V2I use cases
  • V2N network communication, which leverages mobile operators for connectivity and delivers cloud-based services, including automated crash notification (ACN, as mandated by eCall), hazard warnings, weather conditions, green light optimal speed advisory (GLOSA), parking spot location, and remote tele-operation to support automated driving, to name a few.

“This demonstration builds on the successful C-V2X showcase we organised with our members Audi, Ford and Qualcomm in Washington DC in April, said Christoph Voigt, Chairman of 5GAA.

“We are excited to witness the growing momentum behind this life-saving technology and to see our members working together to deploy C-V2X, and to make it hit the road as soon as possible.”  

“The BMW Group introduced the first C-ITS use cases already in 2013 with the market introduction of the BMW i3. Today most of envisaged C-ITS use-cases are already institutionalized. With the implementation of C-V2X, the BMW Group accomplishes the last set of the puzzle with a practical path to C-ITS showing quick benefits,” said Christoph Grote, Senior Vice President Electronics, BMW Group. 

“With its ability to safely and securely connect vehicles, along with its evolution into 5G, C-V2X is integral to Ford’s vision for future transportation in which all cars and infrastructure talk to each other,” said Thomas Lukaszewicz, Manager Automated Driving, Ford of Europe. “We are very encouraged by preliminary test results in Europe and elsewhere which support our belief that C-V2X direct communications has superior V2X communication capabilities.”

“We’re moving forward with seamless communication between cars and their environment for enhancing road safety, as well as our customers’ safety,” said Carla Gohin, Group PSA’s Vice President for Research and Advanced Engineering. “Following the first European C-V2X direct communications demonstration we hosted with Qualcomm Technologies last March, we’re pleased to work with leading automotive and technology companies today to highlight that C-V2X interoperability is a reality.” 

“This demonstration of interoperability between multiple automakers is not only another milestone achieved towards C-V2X deployment, but also further validates the commercial viability and global compatibility of C-V2X direct communications for connected vehicles,” said Enrico Salvatori, senior vice president & president, Qualcomm Europe and MEA. “We look forward in continuing to work alongside leaders in the automotive industry, like the 5GAA, BMW Group, Ford, Groupe PSA and Savari, to help advance the automotive industry’s shift towards a safer, connected and more autonomous future.” 

“As one of the V2X pioneers, our company is extremely pleased to continue to help enable the next step in the V2X revolution that we helped start back in 2008,” said Ravi Puvvala, CEO of Savari. “For the last year and a half, the Savari team has worked diligently alongside the dedicated C-V2X engineers in the 5GAA partnership. The resulting string of increasingly impressive demonstrations is continuing to convince the world that C-V2X will soon be deployed around the world.”

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Fleet management in 360

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An on-board dual camera system from global fleet management vehicle recovery and insurance telematics provider, Cartrack, reduces the costs of managing vehicle fleets, while creating new ways to motivate drivers and improve their on-the-road performance.

Historically, commercial drivers within fleets have been far removed from active management and oversight, with limited tools available in helping fleet owners understand how their drivers actually behave on the road. This lack of visual tracking ability has seen fleet managers struggle to achieve meaningful driver skills development, while also leaving companies vulnerable to poor operational performance and financial losses resulting from accidents.

Cartrack’s Drive Vision system is dramatically changing this status quo.

Drive Vision is an on-board dual camera system that records video footage with a 120-degree exterior view of the road ahead, and a 160-degree view inside the vehicle cab. Not only can fleet managers actively monitor all the footage that they wish, the system also records specific events such as speeding, harsh braking or an unforeseen action from a third-party.

Drive Vision’s video is continuously captured and then made available to users in two ways. The footage is either buffered in the unit’s memory card for up to five days, and selected time slots can be downloaded by the user via a web interface. Alternatively, footage is also automatically downloaded to the system when specific events occur, such as speeding or a collision.  The captured footage is stored at a web address and is immediately accessible to the client at any time. In addition, the data centre’s driver exception reporting mechanism can review the footage against a client’s pre-determined driver behaviour stipulations, creating a balanced and flexible driver performance assessment tool.

Cartrack CEO, Andre Ittmann, notes why Drive Vision is so useful for companies.

“There are two key strategic benefits to the technology.  Firstly, the company has a clear visual record of events in the case of an accident or legal dispute. Achieving this kind of detailed view hasn’t been possible before, and it can dramatically reduce the costs around incidents and accidents, on an ongoing basis. Secondly, Drive Vision is a highly functional, event-based coaching system. It therefore allows fleet managers to develop a culture that rewards excellent or improved performance, while also giving them the power to actively close skills gaps. “

Ittmann also notes that fleet video footage allows the company to monitor and manage aspects of its service and market performance, including the driver’s ability to access a work site, thereby ensuring timeous arrivals at designated locations and the ability to oversee passenger count and conduct.

Ittmann concludes that Drive Vision offers untold long-term advantages for companies.

“Beyond simply gaining a more efficient means to discipline errant drivers, Drive Vision also empowers fleet managers to proactively implement measures that will result in long-term benefits for their company. Ultimately, the company can also reduce costs related to driver mismanagement while simultaneously improving a driver’s skills and their performance on the road.”

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