SEE | Here are the 21 finalists for SA's 2023 Car of the Year competition

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2022 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 V-Cross 4x4 AT
2022 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 V-Cross 4x4 AT

South Africa saw an onslaught of brand-new vehicles added to the local market in 2022, and some of them were the crème de la crème of the bunch. The 2023 SA Car of the Year jury has made their pick, and this year's finalists were announced on Thursday, 26 January. 

News24 Motoring editor Janine Van der Post is one of the SA Car of the Year judges. She says: "Just picking the semi-finalists for this year's jury was a difficult task from all the new models launched last year, and having to narrow down the category winners this time round and picking an overall winner, won't be any easier."

The 2023 South African Car of the Year (COTY) competition, sponsored by Old Mutual Insure and presented by the South African Guild of Mobility Journalists (SAGMJ), is gearing up to crown the country's ultimate vehicle champion at a gala event in June 2023. 

2022 Kia Sportage
2022 Kia Sportage

With a long-standing history dating back to 1986, this prestigious event showcases the pinnacle of innovation and excellence in the automotive industry.

Here are the top 21 finalists (in alphabetical order by category): 

SA Car of the Year 2023 finalists
SA Car of the Year 2023 finalists

Van der Post says: "It's great to see some of the cars we've already highlighted this past year as popular picks by the rest of the jury. In 2022, I wrote the Kia Sportage was the most beautiful car I had driven last year, and then Alfa Romeo launched their stunning Tonale SUV.

"Vehicles like these will make for a hard choice. However, looks alone don't count, and when they're going up against Chery's popular Tiggo Pro 8 and Hyundai's Tucson, it's going to be a proper fight in the Midsize vehicle category.

"The same applies to the all-new Ford Ranger up against the Isuzu D-Max. But will new looks and tech trump D-Max's long-standing reliability and great new looks? We will have to wait and see", she says.

2022 Alfa Romeo Tonale
2022 Alfa Romeo Tonale

REVIEW | Isuzu's new D-Max bakkie is the most good-looking one they've ever built

"Congratulations to our top 21 finalists! All the vehicles have already proven to be excellent contenders, and we're looking forward with anticipation to see which deserving vehicle will take home the coveted overall winner's crown, as well as who the category winners will be," says Garth Napier, MD of Old Mutual Insure. 

"The 2023 COTY finalists showcase cutting-edge innovation and fierce competition in the quest to offer the best mobility solutions. These finalists are the cream of the crop in South Africa, and we can't wait to see who comes out on top," adds Mabuyane Mabuza, Chairperson of the 2023 COTY Committee."

After intense deliberation, the COTY Committee and the SAGMJ Executive Committee unanimously agreed that, instead of taking the top 12 scoring vehicles, a score cut-off was applied with the objective of including a broader spectrum of finalists without favouring categories.

2022 Ford Everest
2022 Ford Everest

"The team looked at a few options, but once the suggestion of a score-cut off was on the table, it just made sense. It evened the playing field," says Mabuza.

The COTY categories include:

  • Budget
  • Compact
  • Compact Family
  • Midsize
  • Premium
  • Adventure SUV
  • 4X4 Double Cab
  • Luxury
  • Performance
  • New Energy
    * The Budget category does not have contenders on this year's finalist list.

Almost 40% of the overall juror votes highlighted the intense competition in the highly contested Compact Family and Midsize categories. The competition in the Premium, Luxury and ever-growing New Energy categories for a spot on the finalist's list was just as fierce.  

"The semi-finalist group was incredibly competitive, with several strong contenders narrowly missing the finalist cut. This year's finalists include a larger selection of brands, making the competition much more exciting. The COTY Committee is pleased with the vehicle selection of the final round and anticipates a tough decision for our expert jury panel," says Mabuza.

xc40 p8 recharge, xcv40 p8
Volvo's new XC40 P8 Recharge on SA's roads in Johannesburg.

The final round of scoring will commence shortly and continue until the end of March 2023, incorporating data from Lightstone for the competition's automated scoring based on market segment sales volumes and spec-adjusted competitor pricing.

The Motor Enthusiast's Choice (public vote, look out for the #SACOTY2023 hashtag on social media platforms) will run again this year. Keep an eye out on social media for posts featuring each finalist, and be sure to cast your vote by liking your favourite. The finalist with the most likes will be the winning vehicle, and three lucky voters will win an off-road driving course sponsored by Old Mutual Insure and the SAGMJ. 

The category winners and the overall winner of the SA Car of the Year competition will be announced on 1 June.    

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