TOYOTA CAMRY HYBRID
Rated against the objective criteria, the petrol-electric Camry is a solid performer that scores for comfort, quietness and — obviously — efficiency. It’s also hard to vote against the only homegrown car in the field. But the driving experience is still blandoid, the price is too high from $36,990, the boot space is tiny and there is not enough special stuff to convince buyers that it really is a Prius-style hybrid.
One of the pre-COTY favourites faded fast when it was lined up against rivals. The look is too chunky and American, the ride is too soft and wallowy, and the turbodiesel engine doesn’t have enough punch and is poorly matched to the six-speed manual gearbox. Subaru has done some great cars, but the latest Forester is not nearly good enough in this field.
The French coupe is easily the glamour puss of 2010 and deserves a COTY finals spot purely on its design. That’s good because the engineering lets it down, in everything from the choppy ride and nose-heavy handling to a clutch pedal that ruins the driving position by sitting way above the brake and accelerator. And the back-seat space? Even for a coupe it’s tiny.
The new Korean price fighter was one of the first starters confirmed for COTY 2010 based on its $14,990 pricetag — now up to $15,490 with six airbags — a funky design and a solid driving experience. But it’s never better than midfield against the best of 2010.
One of the best cars is new again and comes with a lot to like, from benchmark safety to a roomy, cushy, cosseting cabin. It’s great for a long trip, will be rock-solid on resale, and comes with impressive engines and standard equipment.
BMW and Benz have swapped on styling and the 5 Series benefits with a body that is more elegant than the previous model, and a cabin that’s a lot more welcoming. The car also drives brilliantly in any conditions and will easily handle a twin-turbo V8 next year as an M5. But it costs too much.
The first mid-sized car with a Suzuki badge was an instant hit when it arrived in Australia, confirming the classy work of the earlier Swift and Grand Vitara. It’s a taut, well-designed package that is also great value from $27,990. But poor wet-road performance during the COTY judging — perhaps down to rogue tyres — hurt it badly.