Category finalists announced for AutoTrader SA Car of the Year competition

The list of vehicles eligible for category wins in the 2019 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year competition has been published. 

For the first time in the 34-year history of the contest, categories have been introduced in the AutoTrader South African Car of the Year competition. The five categories in the 2019 event are:

  1. Urban Compact (small hatch and sedan).
  2. Medium Family (hatchback/medium sedan and MPV).
  3. Premium (executive and premium sedans).
  4. Leisure SUVs and Crossovers.
  5. Lifestyle Utility (bakkies, 4x4s and bakkie-derived sports utility vehicles).

All entrants must meet one major requirement to win a category: they must finish in the top six out of the 12 finalists in terms of overall scoring. A neck-and-neck battle is predicted in four of these five categories.

The Premium category lists only one finalist, the Lexus ES – but this does not mean that the Lexus will automatically win this category. “In order to win this category it must finish in one of the top six overall places. The competition celebrates motoring excellence. Accordingly, the winners of the categories and the overall winner will be vehicles that set benchmarks – both within their segments and also within the entire motor industry,” explains Rubin van Niekerk, chairman of the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists, which organises the competition.

There are at least two finalists in the other four categories – and members of the public and motor vehicle manufacturers are keen to see which vehicles triumph.

The Nissan Micra and Suzuki Swift will do battle in the Urban Compact category.  The Honda Civic Type R and Mercedes-Benz A-Class will go head-to-head in the Medium Family category.

The Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Suzuki Jimny are the two contenders in the Lifestyle Utility category.

In keeping with the popularity and global growth of the sports utility vehicle (SUV) and crossover market, the Leisure SUV and Crossover category is the most highly contested, with a whopping five finalists battling it out for top honours. They are the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Hyundai Kona, Porsche Cayenne, Renault Duster and Volvo XC40.

George Mienie, AutoTrader CEO, believes that the introduction of categories will enhance the competition immeasurably. “These categories will be of great interest to members of the public. If someone intends buying an urban compact vehicle, for instance, a win by either the Nissan Micra or Suzuki Swift will certainly influence his or her choice of vehicle,” he explains.

The vehicle manufacturers will be keen to take top honours – in both the categories and the overall competition. “A victory at the AutoTrader South African Car of the Year competition is the ultimate accolade for any vehicle manufacturer – because this is the country’s most prestigious automotive contest,” notes Mienie.

The next step of the 2019 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year journey is the actual testing of the finalists, which takes place in March next year. The winners of the categories and the overall winner will be announced at a gala event in April 2019.

Full list: 

Urban Compact

Small hatch and sedan

  • Nissan Micra
  • Suzuki Swift 

Medium Family

Hatchback/Medium Sedan and MPV

  • Honda Civic Type R
  • Mercedes-Benz A-Class  


Executive and premium sedans

  • Lexus ES

Leisure SUVs and Crossovers

  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio
  • Hyundai Kona
  • Porsche Cayenne
  • Renault Duster
  • Volvo XC40

Lifestyle Utility

Bakkies, 4x4s and bakkie-derived sports utility vehicles

  • Mitsubishi Pajero Sport
  • Suzuki Jimny
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