The 18 best new cars in South Africa – including bakkies, compacts and SUVs

 ·10 Feb 2024

The South African Guild of Mobility Journalists (SAGMJ) announced the 18 finalists for the 38th annual Car of the Year (COTY) competition.

Starting with 80 models, the list was cut to 25 for the semifinals and now to 18 for the finals – all of which launched in 2023.

The COTY awards have undergone some changes this year. One significant change is eliminating the new energy category, specifically for hybrids and electric vehicles.

The SAGMJ has decided that these cars are common enough and should compete in their respective categories instead of being kept separate.

Four categories, namely Premium, 4×4 Double Cab, Adventure SUV, and Performance, did not undergo any changes to their roster from the semifinals.

However, the Budget and Compact, Compact Family, Family, and Luxury segments lost at least one contestant.

In the Budget and Compact category, which represents affordable entry-level vehicles, the Suzuki Fronx from Maruti Suzuki, the Japanese company’s Indian subsidiary, competes with its French rival, the Citroen C3.

In the Compact Family category, there are three competitors: two Japanese brands, the Suzuki Grand Vitara and the Toyota Urban Cruiser, and a new Chinese brand, the Omoda C5.

In the Family category, there are two contenders: the GWM Ora 03, a Chinese battery-electric vehicle (BEV) that is the most affordable electric passenger car in the local market, and the BMW X1, a naturally aspirated German competitor.

The Premium and Luxury categories feature recognised brands. The Mercedes-Benz GLC and Lexus NX compete for category honours in the Premium category, while the Luxury category showcases the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz EQS.

The Volkswagen Amarok is the only contender in the 4×4 Double Cab category. The Lexus LX and Mahindra Scorpio N are the sole contenders in the Adventure SUV category, offering a unique competition dynamic.

The Ford Ranger made history as the first double cab bakkie to win the 2023 SA Car of the Year title, and they are doing it again this year.

The performance version of the Ford Ranger Raptor is the first double cab to qualify for the Performance category alongside the Toyota Corolla GR, BMW M2 and Honda Civic Type R.

2024 COTY finalists

The list below details each COTY finalist according to their categories, with pricing included.

Click on the underlined prices for more information.

Budget and Compact

Compact Family




4×4 Double Cab

Adventure SUV


Read: Chinese car makers bet big on South Africa – and won

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