Tough choice for SA Car of the Year Motoring Editor Henrie Geyser at Gerotek with the Mercedes-Benz SLK 350, one of the 10 finalists in the running for the South African Car of the Year.

The 29 experienced motoring journalists who make up the jury which selects the South African Car of the Year have concluded their final evaluations in tough trials at the Gerotek test facility nearPretoriaand after the votes have been counted and audited the winner will be announced on the evening of March 14.

As always, the competition was tough with the jury members having to cast their votes for which car, in their individual opinion, deserved the title. With each member allocated only 25 points to be divided between not more than five vehicles (with a maximum of 10 points per car) it was extremely difficult.

Probably as difficult to pick the top five was to decide which five won’t be sharing in the allocated points. The 10 finalists were: Alfa Romeo Giulietta MultiAir Distinctive, Audi A6 3.0 TDI Quattro S Tronic, Citroen DS4 1.6 THP 200 Sport, Ford Focus 2.0TDCI Trend PowerShift Sedan, Hyundai 1.8 GLS, Kia Picanto 1.2 EX, Mercedes-Benz SLK 350 BlueEFFICIENCY, Peugeot 5008 Active 2.0 HDi, Suzuki Kizashi 2.4 SDLX 6MT and Volkswagen Jetta 1.4 TSI 118 kW Highline.

Testing was done around the high-speed oval banked track, a shorter, tight dynamic track designed to push the limits of any car’s handling, steering and braking and over a corrugated section designed to test suspension under extreme conditions.

Surprises and disappointments

As always there were surprises and disappointments, particularly when the pedal was down hard on the metal or when the anchors were thrown out at full bore.

Besides handling, the group of auto scribes also had to weigh up several other factors including design, external and interior looks, service levels, warranties, the cost of spare parts and monthly sales figures.

As one of the judges I finally whittled my choice down to three contenders but finding the eventual winner required plenty of pondering, re-evaluation and repeated visits to the three tracks on the test day. All the jury members signed a confidentiality clause which prohibits us from disclosing our final points allocation but I can disclose that my points allocation was divided between the VW Jetta, Hyundai Elantra and Kia Pecanto.

As was the case in last year’s new voting format, all the individual jury member votes and comments will be available for online scrutiny from the morning of 15 March onwards. will publish details of the web address closer to the date but meanwhile diarise 15 March as the date on which we will publish the name of the winner.

More by Henrie Geyser: motoring editor

•Tough choice for SA Car of the Year – 13 Feb 2012

•Chevrolet creates another Sonic boom! – 8 Feb 2012

•Ford’s quirky Kuga pounces… at last – 2 Feb 2012

•Sharp, safe, sensible and smart Civic – 31 Jan 2012

•Hyundai H1: The Big Easy… – 24 Jan 2012

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