With a fourth win for the revered German manufacturer, the Opel Astra took top honours at the 2017 WesBank South African Car Of The Year announcement at a cocktail dinner hosted by WesBank, the competition’s headline sponsor, last Wednesday. Facing prodigiously tough competition in this year’s 10-vehicle strong line-up – vehicles that all represent the best of the best from a cross-section of segments and price points – the popular Opel Astra is a worthy contestant, ultimately taking South Africa’s most prestigious motoring prize.
Car buying patterns of the South African public are changing and the Opel Astra reflects those changes in terms of offering both value for money as well as innovative technology. Being the fourth Opel (following the Opel Astra 160iS in 1995) and the 22 small sedan/hatch in the competition’s history to be crowned the winner. The Opel Astra has proved tremendously popular globally and has won numerous awards. Powered by new-generation 1.0, 1.4 and 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engines which are available in either manual or automatic, the Opel Astra impressed the COTY Jury with its incredible road holding and build quality This year’s Jury selected the Astra as overall winner with 2,370.25 points, and most impressively, 94.8% of its points were awarded in the 5 to 10 scoring range. This clearly indicates that the Opel Astra is a brilliant all-rounder.
The South African Guild of Motoring Journalists (SAGMJ) also recognises the Audi A4 (2,338.56 points) as first runner up, as well as the Volkswagen Passat (2,337.35 points) as second runner up in this year’s competition. Beaten by a narrow yet decisive margin, both the Audi A4 and Volkswagen Passat are winners in their own right. The SAGMJ has run the WesBank South African Car Of The Year competition since 1986, with WesBank – one of South Africa’s largest vehicle finance institutions – as its headline sponsor since inception. AutoTrader supports the competition both as sponsor and strategic marketing partner, while MAPO is the official digital scoring system developer and sponsor to the competition. Hollard Insurance also supplies support sponsorship.
The South African competition still boasts a world-first purpose-designed digital scoring system breaking new ground for vehicle evaluation and assessment. Yet, although the scoring mechanism may have evolved, the SAGMJ continues to adhere to COTY’s most unique feature in that each of the finalists was still put through a stringent testing procedure by the peer-elected COTY Jury at the world-renowned Kyalami Race Track in Midrand.
Here, the winning vehicle is evaluated and scored in relation to its segment competitors, with each vehicle’s final score determined by Exterior Design & Styling; Interior Use of Materials; Interior Layout; Technology; Engine Performance; Gearbox & Transmission; Engineering Integrity & Build Quality; Ride Quality & Refinement; Steering & Handling; Affordability; Value for Money; and Overall Excellence.
“By virtually unanimously approving of the Opel Astra as the 2017 WesBank South African Car Of The Year, the COTY Jury has again proven that experience is the key to the success of the COTY competition,” says Bernard Hellberg Jr, COTY Convenor and Chairman of the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists. “The Opel Astra, a multiple award-winning car, perfectly embodies much of the spirit of the competition by combining engineering excellence, driving pleasure and value for money in a worthy winner of South Africa’s ultimate motoring accolade.” he concludes.
In recent years, the competition has had many historic moments, as in 2012 when Hyundai Automotive SA won the title for the first time in its history and became the first Korean vehicle brand to win the title. In 2011, the competition caused an even bigger stir when, for the first time in history, the BMW 530d and Volkswagen Polo 1.6 TDI shared the crown. In 2015, the Porsche Macan became the first SUV to win the prestigious South African COTY contest.
The last time Opel won this award was in 1995 with the Opel Astra at the time. The Car of the Year for 1994 was also an Opel, but this time the Kadett. Opel now have the second most car of the Year awards since 1986 with 4 in total and only BMW have more awards at 6.