It will do us, sport
Inspired Japanese collaboration gives Australia its best new car of 2012
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