2024 South African Car of the Year testing gets underway

Published Mar 5, 2024


The 2024 South African Car of the Year Competition is entering its toughest phase as the testing days get underway in Gauteng.

This year’s competition, once again sponsored by Old Mutual Insure, sees strong representation across many walks of automotive life, from the R236,900 Citroen C3 in the Budget category right through to the 2.8-million Mercedes EQS.

The 18 finalists, spread through eight categories, will be put through their paces from Tuesday, March 05, in a combination of road, track and, where applicable, off-road test modules over two days.

The circuit testing will take place through a series of modules at Zwartkops Raceway, which includes skidpan testing to simulate wet weather driving.

The local COTY competition is one of the few in the world that conducts physical testing of this nature. Following the two days of rigorous testing, jurors fill out a comprehensive score sheet for each vehicle.

The 2024 COTY jury consists of 28 motoring journalists, including IOL’s Jason Woosey.

Following the physical testing and scoring, the finalists will be subject to a final round of automated scoring that incorporates value-based data from Lightstone Auto.

Hotly contested categories

As mentioned there are eight categories and this year sees strong representation in the Compact Family category where the striking new Omoda C5 goes up against the Suzuki Grand Vitara and Toyota Urban Cruiser twins.

But perhaps the most hotly contested category is Performance, where we see the latest hot hatches from Honda and Toyota go up against the BMW M2 as well as a wild-card entry in the form of Ford’s Ranger Raptor, the performance version of last year’s winner.

Entry to the competition is restricted to vehicles that were launched in the preceding year and in order to quality they must be significantly new beneath the skin, and not just a cosmetic facelift.

It’s also worth noting that the South African Car of the Year competition is an excellence award rather than an outright consumer award, and the vehicles are not compared directly against one another, nor against others in their categories.

To that end, jury members are urged to compare each vehicle to their most direct rivals rather than the other finalists in the competition.

The COTY contest also has a public vote, wherein the vehicle with the most social media likes wins the Motor Enthusiast’s Choice award.

The overall winner of the competition as well as the category victors, will be announced in May.

IOL Motoring