2019 SA Car Of The Year Semi-Finalists Revealed

The South African Guild of Motoring Journalists has announced the Semi-Finalists for the 2019 SA Car of the Year, and there's something in there for everybody.
Jason Snyman
2018-11-11

Last year, the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists awarded the Porsche Panamera the coveted title of 2018’s SA Car of the Year, much to public chagrin. This is partly because the SA COTY award is a pivotal moment in the motoring year, which shapes both sales and motoring interest for the year ahead. It seems almost wasted on a car like the Panamera.
 

Now, don’t get us wrong, the Panamera is a phenomenal car. The Stuttgart powerhouse has nabbed three other COTY awards in the past, with the Boxster (2013), the Cayman S (2014) and the Macan S (2015). This is testament to the fact that Porsche knows how to build great cars.

But, we begged the question, how about a Car of the Year that falls within the budget of the average Joe? How does awarding a car as obviously good, and expensive, as the Panamera with COTY help the average consumer?

Now, the Guild has announced the semi-finalists in the 2019 AutoTrader SA Car of the Year competition, and there are a couple of pleasant surprises.

President of the SAGMJ, Roger McCleary, said:
 

The new partnership with AutoTrader starts an era of a new look for the South African Car of the Year Competition. After much discussion with our stakeholders, the 2019 event will certainly suit the entire motor industry.

Let’s see what they’ve come up with.  

Here’s What You Need To Know

The list of semi-finalists comprises twenty vehicles, ranging from affordable to luxurious. Porsche is back in there with the Cayenne, naturally, but there are a number of other exciting contenders.  

On the brand side, five names dominate the list, accounting for half of all semi-finalists. These are Opel, Volvo, Renault, Honda and Suzuki.

From Honda, we have the Amaze sedan and the Civic Type R hot hatch. Suzuki has delivered beyond expectations with the Swift hatchback and the Jimny 4x4.

And here it starts to get interesting. Renault’s contenders are the Megane RS hot hatch and the Duster SUV / crossover. Volvo, on the other hand, has two SUV offerings in contention – the reigning World Car of the Year XC60 and the XC40. Likewise, Opel also has two SUV semi-finalists – the Crossland X and the Grandland X.
 

Unsurprisingly, SUVs dominate the list. George Mienie, CEO of AutoTrader, said:
 

This genre of vehicle is gaining in popularity – not only here in South Africa but also all over the world. Accordingly, the list of semi-finalists is reflecting global automotive trends.

Mienie added that, though SUVs have proven popular, the competition is still wide open.  

Other strong contenders include the Alfa Stelvio, Porsche Cayenne, and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport. I would also not be surprised to see the Hyundai Kona crossover, Lexus ES sedan, Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatchback or Nissan Micra hatchback take the crown. These vehicles all epitomise automotive excellence

No list would be complete without Jaguar Land Rover, which has thrown its hat into the ring with both entry-level SUV – the E-Pace – and the much-desired, beautiful Range Rover Velar.
 

And of course, we have to talk about the Haval H9.
 

This semi-finalist is particularly interesting because, if it wins, Haval will become the first Chinese vehicle manufacturer to win.

Affordability

There are a good number of affordable vehicles on this year’s list, with the Suzuki Swift undoubtedly coming in at the lowest price. Suzuki’s other contender, the Jimny, is joined by the Nissan Micra, Renault Duster and the Opel Crossland X at below or around the R300 000 mark. Other affordable options include the Opel Grandland X or Hyundai Kona at around the R400 000 mark.  

So, the average Joe has some strong representation here in a number of great vehicles. Part of the reason for this could be because, for the first time in the history of the 33-year competition, members of the public were finally able to cast their votes for the semi-finalists via a dedicated portal set up by AutoTrader.

Consumers were able to vote alongside jury members, who are all industry professionals from the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists, and these votes will be taken into consideration as the competition progresses.

That’s not all that’s changed. The 2019 competition will also include the introduction of individual categories, alongside one overall winner. These additional categories will include:

  • Premium (executive and premium sedan) 
  • Leisure (SUVs/crossovers) 
  • Lifestyle Utility (bakkies/derived SUVs) 
  • Urban Compact (small hatch and small sedan) 
  • Mid-Size Winner (MPV, medium sedan and hatch)

The listed vehicles will be put through testing procedures in March 2019, before scoring each against its direct class competitors on 11 aspects ranging from engine performance to exterior design.

The top 10 Finalists will be revealed on 20 November at The Garden Venue in North Riding, Johannesburg.