Toyota took top honours receiving the #CarsAwards Brand of the Year for a third time. The Japanese marque was previously tied with Suzuki with two major titles apiece. Volkswagen is the only other brand that have won this title, which relies on thousands of customer interviews to find the brand that best keeps their customers happy.
Toyota won five of the 13 vehicle categories of the 2020/21 programme, followed by Volkswagen, which got three trophies. Although Toyota increased its historic tally of category wins to 9, it still trailed Volkswagen’s total number of wins (19).
Derivatives of the Volkswagen Polo, Golf GTI and T-Cross, as well as the Toyota Fortuner, defended their category victories from the 2019/20 programme.
The Golf GTI racked up its 5th category win in the 6-year history of the #CarsAwards, while the Fortuner defended its title for an unprecedented third consecutive year. Interestingly, the GTI was not the judges winning choice, but it won out after owner feedback was considered.
Although Suzuki did not win the Budget Car category for a fifth year in a row, a Swift derivative clinched a category win (Entry Level Car), making Suzuki the most prolific winner in the various budget categories in the history of the competition. The Polo 1.0 TSI Comfortline also won its category for a third year in a row.
Land Rover/Range Rover won the Premium SUV category with the new Defender and improved by 12 positions to finish third in the Brand of the Year rankings.
In no fewer than four of the 13 categories (Budget Car, Family Car, Hot Hatch and Leisure Double Cab) the judges’ favourites did not win, owing to the impact of data from the Cars.co.za Ownership Satisfaction Survey.
The narrowest victory margin (0.01%) was in the Compact Family Car category; the largest (7.86%) was in Entry Level Car. Premium SUV had the smallest gap between first and third place (0.69%) and Family Car the biggest (11.79%).
If one counts Land Rover and Range Rover as one (the brands are listed as such in the Brand of the Year rankings), 18 brands were represented in the final round. Toyota and Suzuki led with 5 contenders each, followed by Volkswagen (4), BMW (3) and Volvo (3).
Category winners for 2020/21:
Budget Car – Toyota Starlet 1.4 XR; Compact Hatch – Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI Comfortline Auto; Compact Family Car – Volkswagen T-Cross 1.5 TSI 110 kW R-Line; Entry Level Car – Suzuki Swift 1.2 GL; Family Car – Toyota RAV4 2.0 AWD GX-R; Adventure SUV
– Toyota Fortuner 2.8 GD-6 4x4 VX Auto; Premium SUV – Land Rover Defender D240 HSE; Executive SUV – Volvo XC60 D5 R-Design; Crossover
– Toyota C-HR 1.2T Luxury; Premium Crossover – Volvo XC40 T5 AWD R-Design; Hot hatch – Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR; Leisure Double Cab – Toyota Hilux 2.8 GD-6 4x4 Legend Auto and Sports Executive – BMW 330is Edition
The #CarsAwards was conceived to be South Africa’s definitive automotive awards programme, and the list of vehicles it recognises is meant to guide car buyers to make the best-informed purchasing decisions.
The judging panel evaluates vehicles directly against their peers in specific categories, each of which has certain requirements. What is more, 50% of the final scores is based on brand-specific after-sales data that incorporate customer feedback from thousands of South African vehicle owners.
"Right from the outset, the #CarsAwards was conceived to take a practical and usable approach to deciding the winners,” said Cars.co.za Consumer Experience Manager, Hannes Oosthuizen. “Our Awards programme is meant to be used as a buying guide that reaches the entire population, not only those who follow motoring publications."
Hannes says they had to bring their A-game when conceptualising this year’s event. Not being able to host a physical event due to the pandemic meant using platforms such as television and smart phones in innovative ways to bring this highly anticipated event to the public.