The gloves are off

Despite all the cost pressures on the buying public, it has been a busy year for auto companies in South Africa with new model activations – and voting by motoring journalists has produced a list of 25 semi-finalists for the SA Guild of Motoring Journalists South African car of the Year competition.

Public voting has also bee included in the scoring and will continue to be counted as the event moves towards the final test day in March next year and the announcement of the winner.

Audi A1

One of these semi-finalists will win the most sought-after title in the South African automotive industry, that of 2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year. These vehicles will also vie for one of seven category wins – namely Family, Leisure, Lifestyle, Premium Car, Premium SUV, Sports/Performance, and Urban.

“The 25 vehicles hail from 16 different car manufacturers, and they include anything and everything from family runabouts to sports cars, and from luxurious sports utility vehicles (SUVs) to bakkies,” says Rubin van Niekerk, chairman of the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists (SAGMJ).

Ford Ranger Raptor

Some of the vehicles on the list have already won major international accolades. The Jaguar I-Pace, for instance, made history when it won an unprecedented three awards – World Car of the Year, World Green Car and World Car Design of the Year – at the 2019 World Car Awards.

The Mazda3 has just been named supreme winner at the 2019 Women’s World Car of the Year awards. It has won the 2019 Thailand Car of the Year and the 2020 China Car of the Year. The Toyota Corolla has just been named a 2020 European Car of the Year finalist.


Now the semi-finalists have been named, voting for the finalists will commence; for the first time in the competition’s history, consumers will be able to vote alongside motoring experts. A special event in Johannesburg on December 4 will reveal which cars make up the 14 finalists.

This event will be followed by the test days in March 2020, when 27 of South Africa’s top motoring journalists will put the vehicles through their paces. According to Van Niekerk, this is one of the most important components of the competition.

Hyundai Atos

“In most other competitions in the world, journalists don’t get together and actually drive the vehicles. They simply score them electronically or on paper. We spend two full days evaluating every single aspect of each finalist – from design, technology and engineering to handling, safety and value for money. Then we do the final scoring. Our methodology is both thorough and extremely scientific, and it will yield the most deserving category and overall winners,” he says.

The category and overall winners will be announced at an event in April 2020.

Mitsubishi Triton

2020 South African Car of the Year semi-finalists


Audi A1

Audi Q3

BMW 3 Series

BMW 8 Series


Citroën C3 Aircross

Ford Ranger

Ford Ranger Raptor

Hyundai Atos

Hyundai Santa Fe

Jaguar I-PACE

Kia Sportage

Mahindra XUV300


Mercedes-AMG CLS 53

Mercedes-Benz A-Class Sedan

Mercedes-Benz GLE

Mitsubishi Triton

Peugeot 5008

Subaru Forester

Suzuki Swift Sport

Toyota Corolla Hatch

Toyota RAV4

Toyota Supra

Volkswagen T-Cross


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