In what has surely been one of the closest Car of the Year competitions in recent memory, the Opel Astra has emerged victorious as the 2017 Wesbank SAGMJ Car of the Year winner. The announcement took place at the recently upgraded Kyalami International Motorsport Circuit and Conference Centre.
Key automotive industry stakeholders were in attendance as the evening got underway at 7pm sharp with an address by the COTY Convenor and Chairman of the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists (SAGMJ) Bernard Hellberg Jr. Mr Hellberg shared some insightful information about the automotive and media businesses respectively before the traditional Wesbank vehicle sales forecast speech got underway. With the news of moderate growth within the automotive sphere ringing through everyone’s ears it was time for the introduction of the nine finalists.
After the room had been introduced to each car it was time to reveal to the first and second runners-up. In third position was the Volkswagen Passat, a big luxurious sedan that showed the jury that the Passat is not longer a car for the older gentleman, but one that is ready to take on its segment with cutting-edge design, dynamics and technology.
In second position was the Audi A4, a car that was a bit late to the party in terms of its segment however the wait was most certainly worth the wait. The A4 ushers in a level of quality, driving dynamics, technology and desirability that is impressive, even for a brand a well-established as Audi.
Then it was time for the big announcement, the winner of the competition. After a dramatic countdown, the covers were lifted from the winner in the middle of the room. The Opel Astra was victorious for the second time in the history of this prestigious competition after its predecessor took the crown back in 1995.
In retrospect it’s quite easy to see why the Astra won, with a range of new 1.0-, 1.4- and 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engines, exceptional handling and build quality while remaining affordable, it is simply a good all-rounder. As the SAGMJ said in its press release “This year’s Jury selected the Astra as overall winner with 2,370.25 points, and most impressively, 94.8% of its points were awarded in the 5 to 10 scoring range.”
“By virtually unanimously approving of the Opel Astra as the 2017 WesBank South African Car of the Year, the COTY Jury has again proven that experience is the key to the success of the COTY competition,” says Hellberg. “The Opel Astra, a multiple award-winning car, perfectly embodies much of the spirit of the competition by combining engineering excellence, driving pleasure and value for money in a worthy winner of South Africa’s ultimate motoring accolade.” he concludes.