The prestigious South African Car of the Year (COTY) competition, the country's most highly respected and sought-after motoring competition, was introduced in 1986. This year, no different from the past 36 years, saw top-quality entrants participating for this coveted award in the South African market.
"Although we saw the competition develop and grow over the past 36 years with introducing category winners, additional categories, automated scoring, the public's favourite and Juror's Excellence Award, one thing did not change – the exceptional contenders and their proud makers," says Carl Wepener, Chairman of the South African Guild of Mobility Journalists (SAGMJ).
This year's COTY competition was particularly exciting, with the 2022 COTY jurors selecting 25 semi-finalists from more than 49 entrants with some hotly contended Category rivalries.
After a four-week scoring process, the superb Toyota Corolla Cross was voted the South African Car of the Year.
Mercedes Benz C-Class won this year's prestigious Juror's Excellence Award. Introduced in 2021, the Award is particularly impressive as it only considers the raw scoring of the expert jurors without automated scoring factors. The overall winner includes additional scoring criteria like sales, segment share and spec-adjusted pricing.
The Category winners for this year's competition are:
- Compact Category: Toyota Urban Cruiser
- Compact Family Category: Toyota Corolla Cross
- Midsize Category: Mercedes Benz C-Class
- Performance Category: Volkswagen Golf GTI
- New-energy Category: Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid
- Adventure SUV Category: Toyota Landcruiser 300
- Double Cab 4x4 Category: Nissan Navara
The Budget and Premium categories did not have any 2022 contenders.
The public has become more involved in the COTY scoring/voting process over the last four years via social media. Two years ago, the Motor Enthusiasts Choice Category was introduced. A social media blitz lasting six weeks saw the vehicle the public responded to the most in a hotly contended all-out popularity contest. It was not an easy battle as PRs seized the opportunity to showcase their Finalist/s, but the Peugeot 208 beat out stiff competition to take the win.
The selection of the COTY jurors and the training of potential jurors had remained as stringent as ever. Based on specific requirements, potential jurors and trainee jurors are presented to SAGMJ members, who choose 25 of their peers. Trainees are required to complete a two-year apprenticeship under the guidance of a juror mentor, ensuring a constant pool of newly trained jurors to step into the jury team.
"One thing has remained true to this remarkable contest; it celebrates and rewards automotive excellence. Our jurors are experts in their field and clearly understand vehicles and the mobility sector," says Graham Eagle, chairman of the 2022 COTY committee.
The COTY scoring process is much more than just juror scoring. Once the expert panel concluded scoring, the automated scoring factors that cover sales performance, segment share and value for money are applied. The Guild's COTY competition partner, Lightstone Auto, provided the automated scoring information, which provides data-driven insights, online market intelligence and new vehicle sales data about the South African automotive industry.
"The ongoing scoring system was developed in 2017 to enable jurors to compare category contenders. Every year, we adapt the scoring system slightly to consider new global and local market trends to ensure the credibility and objectivity of our competition," adds Eagle.
Advances in technology transformed the social media landscape, and the 2022 COTY competition adopted an exhilarating social media campaign to reveal this year's winners. Seven SAGMJ members from diverse backgrounds and publications were chosen to announce the overall and category winners from 09h00 on the 6th of June on all COTY/SAGMJ social media platforms. Their contribution acknowledges talent in the journalism sphere, recognises a new generation of media and brings an element of anticipation and fun into this year's competition.
Additional honours instituted at the SAGMJ's Annual General Meeting in 2021 were the Most Admired OEM and the best PR in the industry, concludes Wepener. "This year's respective winners are Mercedes Benz SA and Deon Sonnekus from Hyundai SA, and although these two awards are not officially part of the COTY competition, they are just as prestigious."
Over three decades of challenges, adjustments, and a list of notable jurors who took immense pride in COTY's participation is an honour. As we all emerge after the uncertainty of the last two years, we are confident that COTY will continue for many more years to come.