The South African Car of the Year competition has been running since 1986, and it's the country's most highly-respected and sought-after motoring accolade.
The competition had seen its fair share of criticism over the past few years, especially when Porsche took the title three years in a row not too long ago. However, things have changed since then, and it has evolved over the years with the introduction of categories recently.
One thing has remained true to the contest; it celebrates and rewards automotive excellence.
The 2021 SA Car of the Year (COTY) was very different this year, and for the first time in the competition's history, there was no two-day juror evaluation event.
The South African Guild of Mobility Journalists' (SAGMJ) had created an ongoing online scoring system available to all members in 2019, and the jury used it to cast this year's votes.
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The SAGMJ says: "The system was based on scoring criteria that closely mirrored COTY's voting criteria. The scoring system was initially created to build up a database of vehicles tested, their strengths, weaknesses and to be able to compare them to category contenders.
"Our expert COTY jurors had access to this scoring system and were encouraged to score vehicles as they experienced them on launches or as test-drive vehicles and to input scores and notes via the SAGMJ scoring system. The use of this ongoing scoring system had been introduced to COTY jurors and trainee jurors as part of the COTY process before 2021."
The 2021 South African Car of the Year category winners are:
Compact Category: Hyundai Venue
Compact Family Category: Peugeot 2008 SUV
Family Category: Audi A4
Premium Category: BMW 4 Series
Adventure Category: Toyota Land Cruiser Prado
Double Cab Category: Toyota Hilux Double Cab
Performance Category: Porsche 911 Turbo S
New Energy Category: Porsche Taycan
Motor Enthusiast's Choice: Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Jurors Excellence Award: Peugeot 2008 SUV
The first-place overall winner of the 2021 South African Car of the Year competition is the Peugeot 2008.
The Toyota Hilux Double Cab was placed second, while the BMW 4 Series came third.
Wheels24 editor Janine Van der Post is one of the SAGMJ jury members; she says: "The Peugeot 2008 SUV is a well-deserved winner. It's such a highly-underrated car and brand in the local market. It's an all-rounder with great value-for-money. The 2008 was one of my top cars, and I'm glad my fellow peers felt the same way.
The SAGMJ further adds: "It's also exciting to see the category winners are a lot more relevant to the car-buying public, with more realistic winners in each category too."
"To ensure that we are continuously developing our systems and stay relevant; there was a concerted effort by the SAGMJ to meet with OEMs and ensure that we were cognisant of their input on various matters relating to COTY."
The COTY Committee also paid close attention to worldwide competition trends and took advice from experts in the field. The result is that COTY created more categories and will also be providing the new mobility enhanced vehicles we will see more of in the future.
"We are very proud of two of the new categories, the Motor Enthusiast's Choice and our Jurors Excellence Award", says the SAGMJ.
The automated scoring information was provided by Lightstone Auto, which offers data-driven insight, online market intelligence and new vehicle sales data to the South African automotive industry.
The Jurors Excellence Award uses raw scoring to reveal which vehicle received the highest scores before automated factors were included.