It will do us, sport

In­spired Ja­panese col­lab­o­ra­tion gives Aus­tralia its best new car of 2012

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Cover Story - PAUL GOVER CHIEF RE­PORTER paul.gover@cars­guide.com.au

IT’S A tie – sort of. For the first time in its 16-years, Cars­guide’s Car of the Year is shared by two com­pa­nies. For one car.

Those twins, Subaru’s BRZ and Toy­ota 86, are joint win­ners, edg­ing out the Hyundai i30 af­ter three in­ten­sive days of judg­ing and more than 6000km of eval­u­a­tion by nine COTY judges with more than 100 years of com­bined mo­tor­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

The Ja­panese sports car clones have been COTY favourites since the day they were un­veiled.

They also em­body the Cars­guide mantra and COTY method­ol­ogy: ‘‘ Real cars, on real roads, for real peo­ple.’’

The land­mark col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Toy­ota and Subaru com­bines classy en­gi­neer­ing with a con­cen­trated fo­cus on driv­ing en­joy­ment. Value pack­ag­ing means a $29,990 start­ing price for the 86 and drive-away pric­ing with free ser­vic­ing on the BRZ.

This is the era of the SUV and that makes the BRZ/86 quite re­mark­able. It’s a ground-break­ing car and it is the one car, re­gard­less of the badge it wears,’’ says Cars­guide ed­i­tor Paul Pot­tinger.

Sum­ming up the ma­jor­ity feel­ing, James Stan­ford says:

This car is a gift. Has any­one got out of ei­ther one with­out a smile on their face?’’

The per­for­mance of Hyundai’s i30 is a sur­prise, as it edges the new Toy­ota Corolla to make the fi­nal four show­down along­side the Kia Sorento and Honda CR-V, which fly the flag for the SUV stars of 2012.

I really like the i30, and would give it my No.1 vote,’’ says Chris Ri­ley.

The COTY show­down for 2012 in­volves 11 cars in­clud­ing The Twins— as we dub the 86 and BRZ— and nine judges. The process starts with a 120km run west from Syd­ney into the Blue Moun­tains, then laps around a test­ing and var­ied 44km loop from Mount Vic­to­ria.

Each car has been cho­sen to re­flect the best value and strong­est sales, not just the way it would look if it was fully loaded with an un­re­al­is­tic bot­tom line.

From the start, the Ford Fal­con is in trou­ble. Its sales have plunged this year and, de­spite the ad­di­tion of the ex­cel­lent Eco­Boost four­cylin­der en­gine, it is still too old in too many ways. But by even mak­ing the Top 10 COTY con­test, it’s a win­ner. What a pity Ford has not done nearly enough to pro­mote the best rid­ing and han­dling Fal­con of its gen­er­a­tion.

The Ford Ranger, too, strug­gles. It’s a pick-up that can do dou­ble duty as a fam­ily car and it led the ute world with five-star safety, but it can­not com­pete in such a classy field. From the Holden camp, the plug-in elec­tric Volt is a win­dow on the fu­ture that’s not good enough for the present. We could live with the cramped back seat and the cramped boot and the con­fus­ing dash­board if the price was about $35,000.

It’s try­ing to be the car of the fu­ture but it falls down to­day,’’ says Karla Pin­cott.

The COTY crew does lots of laps on day one, cy­cling through the cars and usu­ally go­ing back-to-back with di­rect ri­vals such as the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5.

This is a con­test within the broader judg­ing that pro­duces a sur­pris­ing pref­er­ence for the Honda, which beats the Mazda on value and boot space. The CR-V has a lower load­ing lip and in­cludes the lit­tle things that make a dif­fer­ence to fam­i­lies.

As push comes to shove and the pre­lim­i­nary scores are tal­lied, the four fi­nal­ists be­come clear— The Twins make it five if you’re pedan­tic.

Lead­ing the also-rans is the Corolla, nar­rowly trumped by the i30. The CX-5 also falls and we lose the fun lit­tle Volk­swa­gen Up.

The Up is a great city car. But there is no auto and you really can’t drive it with any com­fort be­yond the city,’’ sa Pot­tinger.

By day two the judges are sep­a­rat­ing into two camps.

The short­com­ings of the Sorento and CR-V take them out of the fight for top honou For most, the Honda is not strong enough in the en­gine room. De­spite the classy Aus­tralian sus­pen­sion set­tin the Sorento is not gen­er­ally good enough to claim a COT crown. It’s in­her­ently sound but a re­vers­ing cam­era shou be stan­dard.

The i30 scores for its class cabin, its af­ford­able start­ing price and an over­all package

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