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Kyalami International Race Track, Midrand, Johannesburg: With a fourth win for the revered German manufacturer, the Opel Astra took top honours at the 2017 WesBank South African Car Of The Year announcement at a cocktail dinner hosted by WesBank, the competition’s headline sponsor, on Wednesday.

Facing prodigiously tough competition in this year’s 10-vehicle strong line-up – vehicles that all represent the best of the best from a cross-section of segments and price points – the popular Opel Astra is a worthy contestant, ultimately taking South Africa’s most prestigious motoring prize.

Car buying patterns of the South African public are changing and the Opel Astra reflects those changes in terms of offering both value for money as well as innovative technology. Being the fourth Opel (following the Opel Astra 160iS in 1995) and the 22 small sedan/hatch in the competition’s history to be crowned the winner. The Opel Astra has proved tremendously popular globally and has won numerous awards.

Powered by new-generation 1.0-, 1.4- and 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engines which are available in either manual or automatic, the Opel Astra impressed the COTY Jury with its incredible road holding and build quality This year’s Jury selected the Astra as overall winner with 2,370.25 points, and most impressively, 94.8% of its points were awarded in the 5 to 10 scoring range. This clearly indicates that the Opel Astra is a brilliant all-rounderThe South African Guild of Motoring Journalists (SAGMJ) also recognises the Audi A4 (2,338.56 points) as first runner up, as well as the Volkswagen Passat (2,337.35 points) as second runner up in this year’s competition. Beaten by a narrow yet decisive margin, both the Audi A4 and Volkswagen Passat are winners in their own right.

The SAGMJ has run the WesBank South African Car Of The Year competition since 1986, with WesBank – one of South Africa’s largest vehicle finance institutions – as its headline sponsor since inception. AutoTrader supports the competition both as sponsor and strategic marketing partner, while MAPO is the official digital scoring system developer and sponsor to the competition. Hollard Insurance also supplies support sponsorship.

The South African competition still boasts a world-first purpose-designed digital scoring system breaking new ground for vehicle evaluation and assessment. Yet, although the scoring mechanism may have evolved, the SAGMJ continues to adhere to COTY’s most unique feature in that each of the finalists was still put through a stringent testing procedure by the peer-elected COTY Jury at the world-renowned Kyalami Race Track in Midrand

Here, the winning vehicle is evaluated and scored in relation to its segment competitors, with each vehicle’s final score determined by Exterior Design & Styling; Interior Use of Materials; Interior Layout; Technology; Engine Performance; Gearbox & Transmission; Engineering Integrity & Build Quality; Ride Quality & Refinement; Steering & Handling; Affordability; Value for Money; and Overall Excellence.

“By virtually unanimously approving of the Opel Astra as the 2017 WesBank South African Car Of The Year, the COTY Jury has again proven that experience is the key to the success of the COTY competition,” says Bernard Hellberg Jr, COTY Convenor and Chairman of the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists. “The Opel Astra, a multiple award-winning car, perfectly embodies much of the spirit of the competition by combining engineering excellence, driving pleasure and value for money in a worthy winner of South Africa’s ultimate motoring accolade.” he concludes.

In recent years, the competition has had many historic moments, as in 2012 when Hyundai Automotive SA won the title for the first time in its history and became the first Korean vehicle brand to win the title. In 2011, the competition caused an even bigger stir when, for the first time in history, the BMW 530d and Volkswagen Polo 1.6 TDI shared the crown. In 2015, the Porsche Macan became the first SUV to win the prestigious South African COTY contest.

Interesting Facts:

  • BMW has won the SA Car Of The Year title a record six times (1988, 1990, 1993, 1997, 2001 and 2011).
  • Audi, Volkswagen and Porsche have all won the SA Car Of The Year title three times, with Honda, Renault, Toyota and Volvo taking the crown twice.
  • Alfa Romeo, Ford, Hyundai, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, and Nissan have won the title once each.
  • Opel is the only manufacturer whom has won the SA Car Of The Year title for two consecutive years, and has ultimately won the competition four times.
  • Porsche is the only manufacturer in the history of the SA Car Of The Year competition to win the title for three consecutive years.

Previous winners of the WesBank / SAGMJ Car Of The Year competition:

1986   Toyota Corolla Twin Cam

1987   Mercedes-Benz 260E

1988   BMW 735i

1989   Toyota Corolla GLi Executive

1990   BMW 525i

1991   Opel Monza 160 GSi

1992   Nissan Maxima 300 SE

1993   BMW 316i

1994   Opel Kadett 140

1995   Opel Astra 160iS

1996   Audi A4 1.8

1997   BMW 528i

1998   Ford Fiesta Fun

1999   Alfa Romeo 156 T-Spark

2000   Renault Clio 1.4 RT

2001   BMW 320d

2002   Audi A4 1.9 TDI

2003   Volkswagen Polo TDI

2004   Renault Mégane 1.9 dCi

2005   Volvo S40 2.4i

2006   Audi A3 Sportback 2.0T

2007   Honda Civic 1.8 VXi Sedan

2008   Mazda2 1.5 Individual

2009   Honda Accord 2.4 Executive

2010   Volkswagen Golf 6 1.4 TSI

2011   BMW 530d and Volkswagen Polo 1.6 TDI

2012   Hyundai Elantra 1.8 GLS Executive

2013   Porsche Boxster

2014   Porsche Cayman S

2015   Porsche Macan Diesel S

2016   Volvo XC90

2017   Opel Astra

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