South African car of the year semi-finalists announced

South Africa’s premiere motoring journalists have voted. So too have members of the public. The votes have been tallied and 25 semi-finalists have been announced for the 2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year competition.

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,” said Rubin van Niekerk, chairman of the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists (SAGMJ).

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.

“Were it to win the 2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year title, it would be the first electric car to take top honours in the 34-year old competition,” said AutoTrader chief executive officer, George Mienie.

The Mazda-3 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.

According to Mienie, public interest in the competition has spiked. “This year, the number of public votes by AutoTrader’s car buying consumers has more than doubled. This is a clear indication that South Africans want to have their say in these top motoring awards,” he comments.

And which vehicle did they vote for? “Of all the semi-finalists, the car that received the most public votes was the Mazda-3,” Mienie said.

Now that 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.

Van Niekerk said that this is one of the most important components of the competition.

“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 promises.

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

AutoTrader South African Car of the Year semi-finalists:


Audi A1


Audi Q3


BMW 3 Series


BMW 8 Series


BMW X5


Citroën C3 Aircross


Ford Ranger


Ford Ranger Raptor


Hyundai Atos


Hyundai Santa Fe


Jaguar I-PACE


Kia Sportage


Mahindra XUV300


Mazda-3


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


Read: A look at the new electric Ford Mustang SUV

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South African car of the year semi-finalists announced