WESBANK Car of the Year 2017

This year’s WesBank COTY awards featured 9 final contenders for the crown:

  • Audi A4 2.0 TFSI Sport S-Tronic sedan
  • Honda Civic 1.5T Executive 4 door CVT
  • Hyundai Tucson 1.6 TGDI Elite AWD DCT
  • Jaguar F-Pace TD V6 Diesel Pure
  • Opel Astra 1.4T Enjoy
  • Renault Kadjar 1.5 DCI Dynamique
  • Toyota Fortuner GD-6 Raised Body AT
  • Volkswagen Passat 2.0 Tsi R-Line DSG
  • Volkswagen Tiguan 1.4 Tsi Comfortline DSG

The Jury was made up of 27 members of the SA Guild of Motoring Journalists, and I think they must have had a tough time assessing the best car from this line up. Fortunately, the process of selecting the winner is intensive and all finalists undergo two full days of assessment before the numbers are crunched to find the car that best meets the COTY criteria. Browsing through the list of categories on which the cars are judged, one glaring omission appears to be safety – surely for a South African Car of the Year, safety should be on par with Exterior Design and Interior Layout?

After some controversy in recent years regarding the selection process, the current scoring system seems to be working and last year’s winner, the Volvo XC90, was definitely deemed to be a worthy winner of the accolade. With this in mind, it was with a keen sense of anticipation that I arrived at Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit’s stunning International Conference Centre for the COTY banquet.

WesBank hosted an innovative cocktail-style banquet, with various food stations in a relaxed layout that allowed plenty of networking and catching up with old friends before the serious program began. Bernard Hellberg Jnr (Chairman of the SAGMJ) welcomed everyone before Chris de Kock (CEO of WesBank) addressed the assembled guests. He gave us some insights into WesBank’s predictions for the economy in general and the motor industry in particular – overall, things look more positive than expected! Of course, in SA, anything can happen and usually does, but it’s good to know that the outlook is not all doom and gloom…

Heading into the big reveal for the night, many people were betting on the VW Tiguan coming out on top. It was up to Leeane Manas, MC for the night, to make sure the envelopes were in the right order. There was plenty of cheering when she announced the Audi A4 in third place, followed by louder cheers when the Volkswagen Passat claimed second.

There was plenty of speculation as to how the winner would be announced, with no visible clues as to how the car would make its grand entrance. All was revealed when the central bar area started spouting smoke, before lifting gracefully into the air to reveal…. The Opel Astra! A very popular and deserving winner, and congratulations to Opel and GMSA on their first win since 1995.