With the sixth edition of the Cars.co.za Consumer Awards – powered by WesBank, the largest and most influential awards event on the South African motoring calendar has made its television broadcast debut, thereby broadening its reach to a wider audience.
Since 2015/16, the winners of the annual #CarsAwards have been announced at a gala event early in the year, but due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the 2021 show could unfortunately not be staged live (as planned) without putting attendees’ health at risk…
Therefore, the 13 category winners and the recipient of the Brand of the Year title of the 2020/21 programme – supported by WesBank, the largest provider of vehicle finance in South Africa, since 2016 – were announced during the Cars.co.za Consumer Awards TV presentation, which was broadcast on DStv’s Motorsport HD channel on February 15.
The theme for this year’s #CarsAwards was “Be Part of the Journey – My Car, My Freedom” and the televised programme, which will be repeated on DStv’s 1Magic (103), as well as Motorsport HD (215), was formatted to retain the excitement of a live show.
“In these unprecedented times, it’s become more crucial than ever to ensure the car decisions we, as consumers, make, are well informed and they make our ownership journey as simple as possible,” said Ghana Msibi, WesBank’s CEO of Motor.
“With the sixth edition of the consumer awards, WesBank is proud to be associated with giving consumers the freedom of informed decisioning. Our OEMs continue to produce excellent products and we are proud to be part of celebrating their hard work. I want to say, well done to all the nominees and congratulations to the winners,” he added.
The #CarsAwards was conceived to be South Africa’s definitive automotive awards programme and the list of vehicles it recognises is meant to guide car buyers to make the best-informed purchasing decisions… The judging panel evaluates vehicles directly against their peers in specific categories, each of which has particular requirements.
What’s more, 50% of the final scores is based on brand-specific after-sales data that incorporate customer feedback from thousands of South African vehicle owners.
- By winning the #CarsAwards Brand of the Year title for a third time, Toyota has become the most prolific winner of the programme’s most prestigious trophy. The Japanese marque was previously tied with Suzuki with two major titles apiece.
- Toyota won five of the 13 vehicle categories of the 2020/21 programme, followed by Volkswagen, which got three trophies. Although Toyota increased its historic tally of category wins to 9, it still trailed Volkswagen’s total number of wins (19).
- Derivatives of the Volkswagen Polo, Golf GTI and T-Cross, as well as the Toyota Fortuner, defended their category victories from the 2019/20 programme. The Golf GTI racked up its 5th category win in the 6-year history of the #CarsAwards, while the Fortuner defended its title for an unprecedented third consecutive year.
- Although Suzuki didn’t win the Budget Car category for a fifth year in a row, a Swift derivative clinched a category win (Entry Level Car) for a third consecutive time. The Polo 1.0 TSI Comfortline Auto also won its category for a third year in a row.
- Land Rover/Range Rover won the Premium SUV category with the new Defender and improved by 12 positions to finish third in the Brand of the Year rankings.
- In no fewer than four of the 13 categories (Budget Car, Family Car, Hot Hatch and Leisure Double Cab) the judges’ favourites did not win, due to the impact of data from the Cars.co.za Ownership Satisfaction Survey – more details to follow.
- The narrowest victory margin (0.01%) was in the Compact Family Car category; the largest (7.86%) was in Entry Level Car. Premium SUV had the smallest gap between first and third place (0.69%) and Family Car the biggest (11.79%).
- If one counts Land Rover and Range Rover as one (the brands are listed as such in the Brand of the Year rankings), 18 brands were represented in the final round. Toyota and Suzuki led with 5 contenders each, followed by Volkswagen (4), BMW (3) and Volvo (3).
Category winners: 2020/21 #CarsAwards – powered by WesBank
Budget Car – Toyota Starlet 1.4 XR
Compact Hatch – Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI Comfortline Auto
Compact Family Car – Volkswagen T-Cross 1.5 TSI 110kW R-Line
Entry Level Car – Suzuki Swift 1.2 GL
Family Car – Toyota RAV4 2.0 AWD GX-R
Adventure SUV – Toyota Fortuner 2.8 GD-6 4×4 VX Auto
Premium SUV – Land Rover Defender D240 HSE
Executive SUV – Volvo XC60 D5 R-Design
Crossover – Toyota C-HR 1.2T Luxury
Premium Crossover – Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design
Hot hatch – Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR
Leisure Double Cab – Toyota Hilux 2.8 GD-6 4×4 Legend Auto
Sports Executive – BMW 330is Edition
Impact of the Cars.co.za Ownership Satisfaction Survey
Fifty per cent of the final scores of the category finalists was determined by the rankings that the vehicles’ respective brands achieved in the Cars.co.za Ownership Satisfaction Survey – in partnership with data specialists Lightstone Consumer.
The data was based on owners’ experiences of their vehicles (less than four years old and serviced through franchised outlets) and the survey affected the results in four #CarsAwards categories.
The Toyota Starlet (Budget Car) and Hilux (Leisure Double Cab), plus the Volkswagen T-Cross (Compact Family Car) and Golf GTI TCR (Hot Hatch) did not score the highest marks from the panel of judges following the evaluation yet emerged victorious because consumers rated their brands’ experiences higher than those of their competitors.
“Right from the outset, the #CarsAwards was conceived to take a practical and usable approach to decide the winners,” said Cars.co.za Consumer Experience Manager Hannes Oosthuizen. “Our awards programme is meant to be used as a buying guide that reaches the entire population, not only those who follow motoring publications.”
“With 50% of a vehicle’s final score determined by a brand’s performance in the survey, a car really only stands a very good chance of winning if it is a good product in the eyes of the judges and if the brand delivers solid after-sales service,” he added.
In the Family Car, Adventure SUV and Crossover categories, the winning cars received both the highest consumer category- and judges’ scores. In Entry Level Car, Compact Hatch, Premium Crossover, Executive SUV, Premium SUV and Sports Executive, the winners received the highest judges’ scores, but not the highest consumer scores.
Multifaceted judging process
The winners of the #CarsAwards aren’t chosen exclusively by motoring journalists who produce content about the latest new vehicles in the market. The finalists were selected from the entire passenger-vehicle market (all derivatives listed on the new-vehicle price list on 1 October 2020), as opposed to only models launched during the past 12 months.
Although Cars.co.za’s editorial team chose the finalists, the combined judging panel (including 14 respected guest judges from various backgrounds and fields of expertise) only compiled the finalists’ individual scores once they had evaluated the vehicles back-to-back during a two-day test at the Gerotek testing facility in late 2020.
Despite the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, the thoroughness of the evaluation programme, which was supervised by PricewaterhouseCoopers, was not affected.
The combined judging panel (in alphabetical order): Nafisa Akabor (Tech Journalist), Kojo Baffoe (freelance), Wezile Bonani (Bay FM), Khulekani Dumisa (Khulekani on Wheels), Wendy Knowler (Consumer Specialist), Mpho Letsholonyane (SuperSport & Power 98.7), Gero Lilleike (Cars.co.za), Aluta Maqoko (Entrepreneur), Leanne Manas (Morning Live), Thami Masemola (In4Ride), Lerato Matebese (Top Gear), Juliet McGuire (Freelance), Jacob Moshokoa (Eyewitness News), Phuti Mpyane (Business Day), Brenwin Naidu (Sowetan & Sunday Times), Ashley Oldfield (Cars.co.za), Ernest Page (Performance with Page), David Taylor (Cars.co.za), Dasen Thathiah (eNCA) and Ciro De Siena (Cars.co.za).
Brand of the Year
As opposed to the 13 category winners, which are decided by a combination of judges’ scores and consumer data, the recipient of the #CarsAwards Brand of the Year title is determined entirely by market data and the findings of the survey (brands’ respective sales and after-sales service ratings are particularly impactful, as are the percentages of purchase-price value the brands’ finalists retained after three years of ownership).
Although Toyota failed to win a single category during the first two instalments of the #CarsAwards, the Prospecton-based manufacturer famously won the programme’s very first Brand of the Year title in 2015/16.
After Suzuki claimed the Brand of the Year title for two consecutive years (2016/17 and 2017/18), Toyota secured the most prestigious trophy again in the 2018/19 programme, but finished well behind Volkswagen in 2019/20.
However, having won 5 of the 13 #CarsAwards categories in the 2020/21 #CarsAwards and moving up no fewer than eight places in the Ownership Satisfaction Survey rankings since last year, Toyota clinched the #CarsAwards Brand of the Year title for a third time.
In doing so, it became the most prolific winner of the programme’s most prestigious trophy.
Mini finished second, having moved up 5 positions from 2019/20 and a resurgent Land Rover/Range Rover took third place.
Volkswagen was fourth and Isuzu fifth.
“The Brand of the Year trophy is the ultimate accolade in the local automotive industry… It represents validation from the people who matter most: car owners,” said Oosthuizen.
“By providing consistently superior after-sales support through the most extensive dealer network in the country, Toyota has put South African consumers first and – based on the feedback by thousands of vehicle owners – they evidently appreciate that”, he added.
The Cars.co.za Consumer Awards – powered by WesBank television programme took viewers on mini biographical journeys with car owners through a series of short videos that showed how their cars contribute to their freedom of movement and add value to their life stories.
It incorporated performances by Ms Cosmo, Leah, Robot Boii and Micasa, with special appearances by Lalla Hirayama, Rob Forbes and Ciro De Siena.
“We really had to bring our A-game when conceptualising this year’s event. Not being able to host a physical event meant using platforms such as television and smartphones in innovative ways to bring this highly anticipated event to the public”, said Oosthuizen.
The programme will be repeated on DStv’s 1Magic channel (103) at 21:30 on February 20, as well as at 15:30 and 22:30 on February 23 and 25. There will be further repeats on the Motorsport HD channel (215), the times of which will be confirmed in due course.
Visit www.carsawards.co.za for more information about #CarsAwards, including the category criteria and to view images of the award recipients taken at previous events.
This article was published in partnership with Cars.co.za.