Volvo has won the 2016 SA Car of the Year title with its XC90 station-wagon – the second model from the brand to win the accolade in the contest’s 31-year history.
Second was Ford’s Fusion sedan and third the Mazda2 from this year’s 12 finalists, also selected by the SA Guild of Motoring Journalists. It followed three consecutive wins by performance brand Porsche.
It was the first time time that the two “runners-up” were named.
DOES COTY STILL HAVE RELEVANCE?
An extensive and long-running readers’ survey on South Africa’s largest motoring news website (Wheels24) before the cars were judged in February 2016 and the winners announced on Tuesday night (March 8) put the Fusion as a very, very clear winner in the eyes of the public.
Another survey, asking if the public believed the competition affected buyers’ choices, did the contest no favours. Only 8% of respondents (138 votes) admitted considering Coty as a buyer’s guide while a huge 67% (1145) said they did not.
The balance (24%) said “it would depend on the car”; the news hardly encouragement for the continuation of the competition and the vast amounts of money spent on it by automakers who, having been chosen, have little choice but to enter.
The three wins by Porsche (2013, 2014, 2015) drew widespread scorn from the South African public – though there is no doubt that the brand makes magnificent automobiles the general opinion was that the win was pointless for the average corporate and private car-buyer.
LONG LIST OF VOLVO WINS
Nevertheless, all credit and congratulations to Volvo: the XC90 is a fine winner and a beautiful car.
“The accolade,” Volvo told The Corner, “joins the XC90’s long list of international awards – more than 60 – among them Women’s World Car of the Year, North American Truck of the Year, European Car of the Year, Best SUV (Scottish Car of the Year) and Icelandic Car of the Year awards.”
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Volvo Car South Africa’s MD Greg Maruszewski said after the announcement: “We are absolutely delighted. With the all-new XC90 we are not only rewriting the rules of a luxury driving experience but reinventing our brand. Our ethos, ‘Made by Sweden’, expresses our intrinsic Scandinavian attitude to building some of the world’s most desirable – and safest – luxury vehicles.”
The previous Volvo winner was the S40 back in 2005.
HOW THE CARS ARE COMPARED
Each of this year’s 12 finalists – far more than the more usual seven or eight – underwent testing by SAGMJ members (the pubic and motoring journalists who have chosen not to be or have resigned as a guild member are not allowed on the judging panel) under controlled circumstances at the Gerotek vehicle testing grounds near Hartebeespoort Dam north of Johannesburg.
The testing, on closed tracks, explores braking, handling, speed, ride quality and other qualities of each finalist.