The 2017/18 Cars.co.za Consumer Awards – powered by WesBank, concluded with the announcement of the 13 category- and prestigious Brand of the Year winners at a red carpet event hosted at The Galleria in Sandton, Johannesburg on 25 January 2018.
Conceived to be South Africa’s definitive automotive awards programme, #CarsAwards has steadily grown in stature, reach and influence since the inaugural event in 2016. Apart from being supported by WesBank, South Africa’s largest vehicle finance provider, #CarsAwards is regarded as an energetic, impactful opening number to the automotive industry calendar. Highlights of this (third) iteration of the programme were:
A total of 20 car brands were represented in the 39 finalists that were in contention for category wins in 2017/18… The Volkswagen Group had 10 nominations (Audi and Volkswagen had five apiece), followed by the BMW Group (four), with Alfa Romeo, Kia, Mitsubishi, Peugeot and Subaru making their first respective appearances in the final.
Category winners of the 2017/18 Cars.co.za Consumer Awards – powered by WesBank
Budget Car: Suzuki Ignis 1.2 GL
Compact Hatch: Mazda2 1.5 Individual
Premium Hatch: Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI Comfortline R-Line DSG
Compact Family Car: Suzuki Vitara 1.6 GLX Auto
Family Car: Mazda CX-5 2.5 Individual
Business Class: BMW 420d Gran Coupe Sport Line Sports Auto
Executive Sedan: Mercedes-Benz E350d Avantgarde
Leisure Double-Cab Bakkie: Volkswagen Amarok 3.0 V6 TDI 4Motion Highline Plus
Adventure SUV: Toyota Fortuner 2.8 GD-6 4x4 Auto
Executive SUV: Mercedes-Benz GLC250d 4Matic AMG Line
Premium SUV: Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine R-Design
Fun Car: Mini John Cooper Works Sports Auto
Performance Car: BMW M2 M-DCT
Impact of the Cars.co.za Ownership Satisfaction Survey
The importance of after-sales service excellence was highlighted by the impact of the Cars.co.za Ownership Satisfaction Survey on the final scores.
“With 50% of a vehicle’s final score determined by a brand’s performance in the Consumer Satisfaction Survey, a car only really stands a very good chance of winning if it is a good product, in the eyes of the judges, and if the brand delivers solid after-sales service,” says Hannes Oosthuizen, Cars.co.za’s Consumer Experience Manager.
“We think this is a crucial distinguishing feature of the #CarsAwards, because buying a car is ultimately about much more than just the product. Consumers buy into a brand and essentially enter into a relationship with that brand,” he explains.
This year the survey results impacted five categories in particular. The Toyota Fortuner (Adventure SUV), Suzuki Ignis (Budget Car), Mini JCW (Fun Car), Volkswagen Amarok (Leisure Double Cab) and BMW M2 (Performance Car) all emerged victorious because actual customers rated their brands higher than the competition.
Multifaceted judging process
There are several reasons why the #CarsAwards is of greater significance than most other automotive awards programmes. For one, the winners aren’t chosen exclusively by motoring journalists, who report on (and review) the latest new vehicles in the market…
Although the 7 members of Cars.co.za’s editorial team chose the finalists, the combined judging panel (including 11 respected guest judges from various backgrounds and fields of expertise) only compiled the finalists’ individual scores once they’d evaluated the cars back-to-back during a thorough two-day test at the Gerotek facility at the end of 2017.
Combined judging panel (in alphabetical order):
Anele Mdoda (947), Ashley Oldfield (Cars.co.za), Ciro de Siena (Cars.co.za), Claire Mawisa (Carte Blanche), David Taylor (Cars.co.za), Eddie Kalili (freelance editor/writer), Ernest Page (SA Car Fan), Francisco Nwamba (The Motorist), Gero Lilleike (Cars.co.za), Jacob Moshokoa (947/EWN), Juliet McGuire (WOW), Khutso Theledi (YFM), Kojo Baffoe (Afropolitan), Mike Fourie (Cars.co.za), Nafisa Akabor (Tech Journalist), Phuti Mpyane (The Petrosexual), Wendy Knowler (Consumer Specialist) and Wezile Bonani (Bay FM).
All derivatives listed on the new vehicles price list on September 1 2017 were eligible for selection and the public had just as much say in the outcome of 2017/18 #CarsAwards as the 18 judges did. Fifty per cent of the final standings was based on rankings that the respective vehicle brands achieved in the Cars.co.za Ownership Satisfaction Survey, conducted in partnership with data specialists Lightstone Consumer. The data incorporated feedback from thousands of vehicle owners, based on their experiences of their vehicles (less than five years old and serviced through franchised outlets).
In fact, the most prestigious title awarded by #CarsAwards – Brand of the Year – was based solely on the findings of the Cars.co.za Ownership Satisfaction Survey.
Brand of the Year
Following its surprise win last year, Suzuki’s good reputation received another boost from this year’s #CarsAwards. The Japanese brand again emerged victorious in the Brand of the Year category, which is determined entirely by market and customer data, the latter from the aforementioned survey (sales and after-sales service in particular).
Suzuki narrowly defeated Mercedes-Benz by 1 per cent, with Mazda scoring the final podium position. Also note the rise of Kia (6th) and Mahindra into the top 10 list.
“We think the Brand of the Year trophy is the ultimate accolade in the South African automotive industry,” says Oosthuizen. “It represents validation from the people that matter most – actual car owners. Suzuki has managed to achieve impressive market share growth in the past 12 months and has maintained excellent service levels.”
The red-carpet ceremony was hosted by media personality (and #CarsAwards judge) Anele Mdoda and the featured guest speaker, Lwazi Mangwana from Google, shared valuable insights into South African car consumers’ online search activities. The event, which featured live entertainment by GoodLuck, was attended by 350 guests, including industry leaders, representatives of the finance sector, media agencies and celebrities.
The event was digitally broadcast on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and, significantly, streamed live on the Cars.co.za YouTube channel, the biggest branded South African channel on the video site. The multi-platform broadcast allowed consumers, who are at the core of Cars.co.za’s awards programme, to actively participate in the event.
Visit http://www.carsawards.co.za for more information about #CarsAwards, including the category criteria, and to view images of the award recipients taken at the event.
Leading online automotive retail portal Cars.co.za lists more than 70 000 vehicles stocked by hundreds of dealers countrywide and delivers in excess of 55 million page views per month to more than 1.7 million unique users. It has a presence on multiple digital platforms and is the top-ranked branded SA YouTube channel (more than 100 000 subscribers and 30 million views).
In 2015, Cars.co.za repositioned itself as a consumer champion by optimising its editorial content for the purposes of engaging and empowering its users. The Cars.co.zaOwnership Satisfaction Survey, in association with Lightstone Consumer, and now the Cars.co.za Consumer Awards – powered by WesBank, underlines the company’s objective to become the most comprehensive resource available to South African vehicle buyers, so that they can make the best-informed buying decisions.
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