The Mercedes-Benz A Class is the South African Car of the Year for 2019, winning the prestigious title from the Porsche Cayenne and Volvo XC40.
The 2019 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year, run by the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists (SAGMJ) saw some first for this long-running contest that seeks to reward automotive excellence as opposed to being a ‘people’s choice’ type of award.
George Mienie, AutoTrader CEO, believes the A-Class is a truly deserving winner.
“The AutoTrader SAGMJ South African Car of the Year has to represent innovation and ingenuity, while setting new benchmarks in its market segment. There is absolutely no doubt that the A-Class does this,” he notes.
The win was an extremely momentous occasion for Mercedes-Benz, which last won the South African Car of the Year in 1987 with the Mercedes-Benz 260E. Porsche last won in 2018 with the Panamera, while Volvo’s XC90 wore the crown in 2016.
It certainly wasn’t unexpected though; the jury members were full of praise for the A-Class during the test days.
“The judges were particularly impressed with its interior comfort, stunning design, innovative technology, terrific road manners and exemplary safety features. Furthermore, the advanced engine offers the optimal blend of efficiency, performance and driving fun,” confirms Rubin van Niekerk, chairman of the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists (SAGMJ).
Incredibly, members of the public reached the same conclusion as the highly qualified jury members, who collectively have 584 years of experience in the motor industry. For the first time in the competition’s 34-year-long history, members of the public could cast a vote via the AutoTrader website – and pick a car that they believed most deserving of the AutoTrader South African Car of the Year title.
“After 55 000 consumer votes, I am delighted to reveal that the public vote yielded exactly the same result: they also chose the Mercedes-Benz A-Class,” Mienie reveals.
The Porsche Cayenne which placed second, also scored highly during the evaluation days.
“The jury were particularly intrigued by the fact that this is a sports utility vehicle (SUV) which is as impressive to drive as most sports cars. Furthermore, they commented on the fact that the vehicle is well engineered while the driveline is simply faultless,” Van Niekerk explains.
The vehicle that came third – the Volvo XC40 – also attracted widespread praise from the judges. This vehicle has notched up award after award – most notably Women’s World Car of the Year and European Car of the Year. The jury members were unanimous in their praise for Volvo’s smallest SUV. Judges particularily liked its minimalistic dashboard design and they commented favourably on the build quality, which is the best in the business.
“Naturally, being a Volvo, the safety features are exemplary too,” Mienie points out.
In a historic first for the AutoTrader SAGMJ South African Car of the Year, categories were introduced.
These are the category winners:
Urban Compact Category Winner: Suzuki Swift
Medium Sedan/Hatch Category Winner: Mercedes-Benz A-Class
Premium Sedan Category Winner: Lexus ES 250
Lifestyle Utility Category Winner: Suzuki Jimny
Leisure SUV/Crossover Category Winner: Porsche Cayenne
Mienie says that he is delighted with AutoTrader’s inaugural year as title sponsor.
“The AutoTrader South African Car of the Year has scaled to new heights and we’re very proud to be part of this change. The motor industry has become more sophisticated and evolved than ever before. This competition combines the immense experience of the jury, with the demands of the modern consumer, to produce a competition that is on par with the crème de la crème of Car of the Year contests around the globe. We are proud and privileged to be associated with this incredible programme,” he comments.
Suzuki was on stage to collect two category awards and André Venter, divisional manager for sales and marketing at Suzuki South Africa, says: “We are very proud to have received the prize as the best Urban Compact in South Africa. Since launching the Swift in South Africa, we have sold more than 4 424 units, and it has become our best-selling model. This is thanks to its affordable price, good specification level and dynamic road manners.”
Suzuki was called to the stage for a second time when the COTY jury announced the winner of the Lifestyle Utility category. It considered all the COTY finalists that offer a combination of lifestyle attributes and design, without compromising utility.
The current Suzuki Jimny has already found 438 owners since it was launched in South Africa late last year and there are an additional 900 orders on the waiting list. To help with this, Suzuki has received the green light from the Japanese head office to increase its order volume dramatically.
“There is a significant waiting list for the Suzuki Jimny in every country where it has been launched. We believe that it is a thumbs up from the customers who appreciate the pure design and off-road ability of the new model,” says Venter.
Abroad, the Suzuki Jimny is a contender in the 2019 Design and Urban categories of the World Car of the Year.