of The Year -
Part 1 - how it works
dates : 30th January 2005
3rd February 2005
|The Car of
the Year Competition carries an enormous amount of
prestige amongst the country’s motor manufacturers.
Held annually by the SA
Guild of Motoring Journalists and sponsored by Wesbank,
this year saw eight finalists being put through their
paces over varying roads in the Vaal Triangle area.
The Car Torque team was
there to bring you all the action.
What are the criteria for Car of the Year? First and
foremost the car that ultimately becomes "the
chosen one" has to set new standards of motoring
It must be good in all
areas of dynamics, ergonomics, performance, and yes,
fashion appeal plays its part too.
You don’t want to be
driving the automotive equivalent of Miss Daisy!
It was interesting this
year that the eight finalists ranged in price from just
under R100 000 to R474 000.
That’s a wide price
and market-segment spectrum, and for this reason the
journalists constantly had to place each car’s
performance in its context.
With an unlimited
budget, most half-way competent manufacturers could make
any car handle like a Porsche, look like a Ferrari and
have all the comfort features of a Rolls Royce.
There are the tactile
considerations… such as steering-wheel-feel… and for
the gizmo orientated, the amount of equipment fitted,
such as airbags and audio… leather versus plastic.
Function or form? That’s
the primary focus in the static evaluation, and the
score book accommodates both approaches.
The questions in the
score sheet have been finely honed over the past 20
years and motoring journalists welcome this unique
opportunity to sharpen up their analytical skills.
There is nothing quite
like a back-to-back test to bring a car into focus.
The fun bit of the Car
if the Year event is obviously on the Wesbank raceway
circuit, where the corners are a mix of fast sweeps and
tight tyre twisters.
Most cars are set up as
under-steerers – where the front tyres break traction
before the rears.
This is the easiest
type of skid for the driver to deal with.
Merely back off the
throttle and the front tyres regain grip
City driving exposes an
entirely different aspect of a car’s character.
Clutch action, the ease
or lack thereof of the gearshift, rearward vision
through the main mirror and the wing mirrors… these
are important in town driving.
Out on the highway,
other aspects come into focus. How busy is the motor at
the hundred-and-twenty kilometres-per-hour speed limit?
How comfortable are the seats on a long haul?
How communicative is
the car in the relatively passive freeway environment?
This has an important
safety aspect too. An involving car means that the
driver stays alert on the freeway.
1 - How it works
Part 2 - the cars
Part 3 - more cars
Part 4 - and finally
Car Torque is