The top 14 finalists for the 2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year have been announced.
The cars can also win one of seven categories: Family, Leisure, Lifestyle, Premium Car, Premium SUV, Sport/Performance or Urban.
The most hotly contested category is Leisure, with four finalists: the Peugeot 5008, Toyota RAV4, Citroën C3 Aircross and Volkswagen T-Cross.
The Premium SUV category is also well populated, with three finalists: the BMW X5, Jaguar I-PACE and Mercedes-Benz GLE.
There are two finalists in the Urban and Family categories. The Hyundai Atos and Suzuki Swift Sport are fighting it out for laurels in Urban while the Mazda3 and Toyota Corolla Hatch are going tooth and nail for top honours in the Family category.
There is one finalist in each of the remaining three categories: the BMW 3 Series is the finalist in the Premium Car category, the Sports/Performance category has the Toyota GR Supra as its finalist and the Ford Ranger Raptor is the sole finalist in the Lifestyle category.
For some of the finalists to win, it would really be one for the history books. Citroën, for instance, has yet to win South Africa’s most sought-after motoring accolade – and the timing could not be better, given the fact that the French manufacturer has just re-entered the South African market.
Suzuki did exceptionally well in the 2019 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year, with its Swift and Jimny winning their categories (Urban Compact and Lifestyle Utility respectively). However, it’s never notched up an overall win.
An electric car and a bakkie have never won the competition either, meaning an I-PACE or Raptor victory will be truly momentous.
AutoTrader chief executive, George Mienie, said that members of the public would like to see a win by the Mazda3. “It triumphed in the consumer vote, where we had hundreds of thousands of votes. The consumer votes act as the 28th Juror in the competition. Mazda’s last win was back in 2008, with the Mazda2 1.5 Individual – so it will be interesting to see if this Japanese company can take top honours,” he said.
Mienie said that Toyota has good odds for a possible win. “Toyota is the only company with three finalists in the 2020 competition.” Toyota notched up two overall wins in the 1980s – the Toyota Corolla Twin Cam won in 1986 and the Toyota Corolla GLi Executive took the title in 1989. However, a win has proved elusive for the company since then.
The next step in the 2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year journey is the track and road testing of the finalists in March 2020 by 27 of South Africa’s top motoring journalists. The category and overall winners will be announced at an event hosted by AutoTrader in April 2020.
AutoTrader South African Car of the Year Finalists:
BMW 3 Series
Citroën C3 Aircross
Ford Ranger Raptor
Suzuki Swift Sport
Toyota Corolla Hatch
Toyota GR Supra