Revs are high in SA 'motoring ultimate'

By Bobby Cheetham,  Coty Jury Member

THE hard work has been done, the cars have been driven, now it's time for the motor industry to sweat it out until this year's car of the year is announced.

The title of 2014 WesBank/ SAGMJ Car of the Year, the ultimate award in the South African motoring industry, will be announced at a gala event in Sandton on February 19.

The nine finalists are:

Audi A3 Sportback 1.4T FSI Manual;

Jaguar F-TYPE 3.0 V6 S;

Lexus IS 350 F-Sport;

Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG;

Peugeot 208 GTI;

Porsche Cayman S;

Renault Clio4 66kW Turbo Dynamique;

Volkswagen Golf 7 1.4 TSI 90kW Comfortline DSG; and

Volvo V40 D3 Geartronic Excel.

All 25 members of the SA Guild of Motoring Journalists (SAGMJ) have just spent two days on the road in the area surrounding the greater Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality to evaluate the finalists.

Each of the 25 jurors had already been exposed to the finalists, having either attended the local launch event of the vehicle or having tested them for at least three days, under normal driving conditions last year.

During the evaluation days, the jury had to test each finalist under simulated extreme conditions at the Gerotek vehicle testing facility.

In these controlled conditions, the jury were able to evaluate each of the finalists' dynamics and response in wet conditions, steering inputs and stability at high speeds, road comfort and suspension on simulated extreme road surfaces as well as handling, braking and cornering abilities on the facility's dynamic handling track.

According to the chairman of the SAGMJ Christo Valentyn, the South African version of the car of the year award is one of the toughest and most professionally run events of its kind.

"The competition is unique in that all full members of the guild have input in which vehicles ultimately become finalists. These members also determine the jury who conducts the formal evaluation of the finalists on behalf of the broader membership, making it one of the most representative and experienced jury panels used in competitions of this nature.

"The demographics of this year's jury include a wide spectrum of individuals that represent a fair cross-section of the motor-buying public. In terms of age, the youngest jury members are, for instance in their 20s, while the oldest is in his 70s.

"And considering the important role women play in vehicle purchasing decisions, the jury also included four highly experienced and respected women."

Over the next week, the jury members will evaluate the finalists for the Coty trophy in their segments with due consideration of aesthetics, quality, price, cost of parts and services and value for money.

"The jury has the mandate to select, from the nine extremely worthy finalists, the car that against its direct competitors and in the market as a whole, displays the ultimate in motoring excellence.

"This is the competition's primary criterion," Valentyn said.

The jury members will cast their secret votes online, after which the votes will be tallied and audited.

The finalist vehicle with the highest score will be awarded the title of 2014 WesBank/ SAGMJ Car of the Year, the ultimate award in the South African motoring industry.

Follow the action on Facebook ( or on Twitter by following @wesbankcoty. You can also read more about the competition and its finalists by visiting