2016 SA Car of the Year: How the cars are tested

Pretoria - The 12 finalists competing for the 2016 South African Car of the Year title were put through stringent testing over the course of two days at the Gerotrek Testing Facility, Pretoria.

Wheels24's Janine-Lee Van der Post is one of 27 jury members for the 2016 edition. She shares some insight as to the testing criteria during two days of vehicle evaluations.

The 2016 edition saw several rule changes, the highlight being the elimination of the paper-based Jury Manual which has been replaced by a tablet-based electronic scoring and information system - a first in the history of the local competition. The system allows for comparative tools at a touch of a button.

The judges' scoring will be available to manufacturers and released at a later stage. SAGMJ Chairman Bernard Hellberg Jnr says: "Scoring will be made available later when the Car of the Year is announced, but we are not yet sure in which format. The only change is that the guild and organisers were advised by statistical experts not to make individual scoring public - i.e names next to scores - in order to prevent the jury's judging to be skewed."

As a consolation in the mean time, digital partners MAPO has developed a smartphone app which contains information including finalists, jury members, rules and the scoring system.

With the aim of rewarding "automotive excellence", the 2016 CoTY Jury put the finalists through structured testing on February 3-4 2016. The winner will be announced in March 2016 in Gauteng. 

Each vehicle was scored and measured against its class competitors on aspects that include: 

  • Value for money
  • Safety & technology
  • Performance
  • Overall excellence
  • Interior design & practicality
  • Handling & dynamics
  • Exterior aesthetics 
  • Efficiency

Read: SA Car of the year: Voting heats up

The jury was divided into three groups to spread out the various models and testing modules. Day 1 commenced with registration and a jury meeting before moving on to on-road driving testing of the 12 finalists and then "static" evaluation of each car.

The 12 finalists are (in no particular order):

Opel Corsa
Jaguar XE
Peugeot 308
Land Rover Discovery Sport
Mazda 2
Kia Sorento
Citroen C4 Cactus
Honda HR-V
Ford Fusion
Opel Adam
Volvo XC90
BMW i3

The 12 finalists were put through the same tests for three modules to evaluate various aspects such as braking in various conditions, vehicle handling; build, acceleration tests, dynamic response and performance. 

Module 1 at Gerotek's skidpan module included:

  • Crash-avoidance in wet conditions
  • Over/understeer in wet conditions, both at a speed of 60km/h, 400m acceleration test on a 1km straight.
  • ABS braking in dry and wet conditions, emergency lane change in dry conditions
  • Belgian cobble stones tests vehicle handling over an uneven surface and also the vehicle build integrity. 

READ 2016 COTY Rules and Regulations
READ 2016 COTY Timeline

Module 2 took place at the dynamic handling track which tests vehicle acceleration, handling characteristics. brakes, dynamic response to changing dynamic conditions. The 12 finalists were lined up in numerical order and laps were done consecutively.

Not for those who suffer from motion sickness or who gets car sick.

Module 3 was similar to 2 on a 6km concrete ride and handling track which tests the general vehicle characteristics under low mobility conditions.

There after, jury members were allocated a time slot to complete their confidential digital scoring before handing in each device.

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