These are South Africa’s best cars in 2018 – according to affordability and style

The semi-finalists for the Cars.co.za Consumer Awards – powered by WesBank – have been announced.

The 13 eventual category winners will be selected from this pool of 65 vehicles, which collectively represent some of the best purchasing propositions in the new car market.

In the first round, the Cars.co.za extended editorial team selected the five best cars in each of the 13 categories devised for this year’s programme.

All vehicles available on the South African market on September 1, 2018, were eligible, not only new products that were launched in the past 12 months.

“The debate and agreement by consensus is a core pillar of our programme,” said Cars.co.za consumer experience manager, Hannes Oosthuizen.

“We debate each eligible vehicle within the context of its category, and will not move on until the entire team is in agreement. This means that the selection process encompasses far deeper interrogation (and more exhaustive investigation) than is typical in a ‘secret vote’ setup.”

In the next round, due to take place early in October 2018, the same jury will score each vehicle individually, taking into account the various criteria set out for each of the respective categories.

The top three finalists per category will then be announced next month, and be put through back-to-back testing at Gerotek in Gauteng early in November.

Here are the 2018/19 semi-finalists in their respective categories:


Budget Car (under R200 000)

Last year the entry-level Suzuki Ignis drove away with the Budget Car trophy.

Buying an affordable car should not necessitate compromises in terms of safety, technology and quality. The winner of this category represents as much good car as possible for the asking price.

Value is very important, as are low running costs and all such “common sense” considerations. The price cap for this category is R200 000 (on 1 September 2018) and, as always, we’ve placed an emphasis on safety equipment: dual front airbags and ABS are required features in this category.

  • Kia Picanto 1.2 Style
  • Peugeot 208 1.2 Active
  • Suzuki Ignis 1.2 GLX
  • Suzuki Swift 1.2 GL
  • Volkswagen Polo Vivo 1.4 Comfortline

Compact Hatch (R200 000 – R300 000)


The current champion is the Mazda2.

Cars in this segment must appeal to a very wide audience – from the young professional or -family buying up from an entry-level car, to pensioners buying down from something larger and expensive.

The winner of this award must truly reflect what is best about modern automotive design and engineering, but present it in a concentrated, reasonably affordable form.

  • Ford Fiesta 1.0T Titanium
  • Mazda2 1.5 Individual Plus Auto
  • Nissan Micra 66kW Turbo Acenta
  • Renault Clio 88kW Turbo GT-Line
  • Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI Comfortline Auto

Adventure SUV (R550 000 – R700 000)


To achieve a repeat victory in this segment, the Toyota Fortuner will also have to trounce Isuzu’s new mu-X.

“We’re looking for the ultimate recreational vehicle to transport a family and all their holiday and lifestyle gear in comfort to almost any destination, on- or off-road. Off-road ability is emphasised, in combination, with practicality, comfort and long-distance cruising.”

  • Ford Everest 3.2 4WD XLT
  • Haval H9 2.0T 4WD Luxury
  • Isuzu mu-X 3.0 4WD
  • Mitsubishi Pajero Sport 2.4 D4 4×4
  • Toyota Fortuner 2.8 GD-6 4×4 Auto

Compact Family (R300 000 – R400 000)


With household budgets stretched to breaking point, the reasonably affordable contemporary family car has to wear many hats – from compact traffic-dodger, to school-run taxi and even weekend getaway machine, said Oosthuizen.

Practicality and spaciousness are important considerations, but so are safety, technology, fuel efficiency and a modicum of lifestyle flexibility.

The current champion in this category, Suzuki’s Vitara 1.6 GLX, isn’t eligible this year because it is being updated early in 2019.

  • Ford EcoSport 1.0T Titanium Auto
  • Hyundai Creta 1.6 Executive Turbodiesel Auto
  • Nissan Qashqai 1.2T Acenta Auto
  • Opel Crossland X 1.2 Turbo Cosmo Auto
  • Renault Captur 88kW Dynamique Auto

Family Car (R400 000 – R500 000)


With the 2.5 Individual derivative of the CX-5 now too expensive to qualify, can the 2.0 Individual defend Mazda’s Family Car title?

The typical family car fulfils a wide variety of duties and needs to be a practical, safe all-rounder.

The winner of this category should be ideal not only for the morning school run, but also school-holiday trips to distant locations. In judging this category, we’ve placed particular emphasis on interior flexibility, comfort and safety, said Oosthuizen.

  • Ford Kuga 2.0TDCI AWD Trend
  • Mazda CX-5 2.0 Individual
  • Nissan X-Trail 2.5 4×4 Tekna
  • Peugeot 3008 2.0 HDI Allure
  • Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace 1.4 TSI Trendline

Leisure Double Cab (R500 000 – R800 000)


In this immensely popular and fiercely contested category of the market, the search is on for the ultimate all-rounder.

A leisure double-cab is required to be as many as 5 different vehicles (depending on which task it is required to perform): a luxurious tourer, hardcore off-roader, capable carry-all, family do-all and lifestyle activity machine.

This type of bakkie can no longer afford to be too utilitarian and rough around the edges; it’s expected to be a highly sophisticated offering, said Oosthuizen.

  • Ford Ranger 3.2 4×4 Wildtrak Auto
  • Mercedes-Benz X250 d 4Matic Progressive Auto
  • Nissan Navara 2.3D 4×4 LE Auto
  • Toyota Hilux 2.8 GD-6 4×4 Raider Auto
  • Volkswagen Amarok 3.0 V6 TDI Highline Plus 4Motion Auto

Business Class (R600 000 – R800 000)


In this category, you will find the type of cars that (realistic) dreams are made of, said Oosthuizen.

“We’re looking for an aspirational vehicle that will appeal to the image-conscious driver who places a priority on performance, dynamics, technology and design. The target customers have achieved success and want a car that isn’t only a personal reward, but the automotive embodiment of their achievements.”

  • Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.0T Super
  • Audi A5 Sportback 2.0TFSI quattro Sport S Line sports
  • BMW 430i Gran Coupe M Sport sports-auto
  • Mercedes-Benz C300 AMG Line
  • Volkswagen Arteon 2.0TSI 4Motion R-Design

Executive SUV (R700 000 – R900 000)

An Executive SUV is increasingly regarded as the status symbol to have, therefore most premium brands now offer road-biased SUVs that combine prestige and practicality in a package that is characterised by superior refinement, said Oosthuizen.

Drivetrain performance and refined road manners are priorities, as is a cabin that features upmarket materials and the most up-to-date technology.

  • Audi Q5 2.0 TDI quattro Sport S-Line sports
  • BMW X3 xDrive20d M Sport auto
  • Jaguar E-Pace D240 R-Dynamic HSE
  • Mercedes-Benz GLC 250d 4Matic AMG Line
  • Volvo XC60 D5 R-Design

Premium Compact (R450 000 – R600 000)


This category replaces the previous “Premium Hatchback” segment.

Buyers of traditional upmarket hatchbacks are increasingly also considering fashionable crossovers, so it only makes sense to group them together into 1 category. Stylish and sophisticated, yet practical enough for most motoring needs, these are the cars for upwardly mobile go-getters, said Oosthuizen.

The winner in this category must not only offer outstanding quality, refinement, performance and the latest technologies, but also broadcast a message of success and ambition.

  • Audi A3 Sportback 2.0TFSI S-Line Auto
  • Mercedes-Benz A200 AMG-Line
  • Mini Countryman Cooper S sports-auto
  • Volkswagen Golf GTI
  • Volvo XC40 T3 R-Design

Hot Hatch (under R700 000)

With very few compact fun cars currently available in South Africa, our focus falls on the traditional hot hatch, which offers sportscar-humbling performance, while retaining an admirable measure of practicality.

“In this new category, we’re looking for a total package that is not outlandishly priced. This is one for the petrolheads – a car that must leave die-hard enthusiast smiling after every drive, in the way it looks, handles, sounds and, yes, performs,” said Oosthuizen.

  • Audi S3 Sportback quattro
  • BMW M140i sports-auto
  • Honda Civic Type R
  • Renault Megane R.S. 280 Lux
  • Volkswagen Golf R

Performance Car (under R1 million)


The reigning Performance Car champion, BMW’s M2, will compete in updated “competition” spec this year.

“While supercars and other “exotics” are mere fantasies for most, there are cars priced below the magical R1-million mark that offer near-supercar thrills and performance. In this category, we are not only looking for sizzling performance, but also driver engagement, whether driven on track or road,” said Oosthuizen.

  • Audi TT RS
  • BMW M2 Competition
  • Jaguar F-Type Coupe 221kW
  • Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe 4Matic
  • Porsche 718 Cayman S

Premium SUV (R1 million – R1.3 million)


Luxurious SUVs may appeal for irrational and emotional reasons such as kerb appeal and status, but at their core, they are some of the most sophisticated and capable vehicles on the market.

Blending spaciousness with high-tech off-road equipment, powerful engines, as well as luxuriously trimmed cabins, the prestige-badged premium SUV we are looking for in this category should be tailor-made for image- and practicality-obsessed buyers, said Oosthuizen.

  • Land Rover Discovery HSE Td6
  • Porsche Cayenne S
  • Range Rover Velar D300 R-Dynamic SE
  • Volkswagen Touareg V6 TDI Luxury R-Line
  • Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine AWD R-Design

Executive Sedan (R800 000 – R1 million)


With Mercedes-Benz’s E350d no longer on price lists, BMW’s 5 Series stands a stronger chance of Executive Sedan glory.

These technological masterpieces represent an enviable blend of first-class luxury and comfort, and business-class technology and dynamic appeal, said Oosthuizen.

“Prestige is usually a given in this segment, but we’re also looking for significant technological advancement, yet without compromising the level of comfort and quiet style that these sedans are renowned for.”

  • BMW 520d M Sport
  • BMW 530i M Sport
  • Jaguar XF 30t R-Sport
  • Mercedes-Benz E220 d Avantgarde
  • Volvo S90 D5 AWD R-Design

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