These 10 must become one
These are the best cars of the year. Now to find the best of the best
THE 10 best real-world cars of 2013 are under starters orders.
None of the 10 finalists in Carsguide Car of the Year costs more than $42,000. All 10 sit in the sweet spot where the vast majority of buyers choose a new hatchback, sedan, station wagon or SUV.
They come from Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Korea and Sweden with badges as diverse as Ford, Kia, Holden, Mazda, Renault, Subaru, Volkswagen, Volvo and — surprisingly — Mercedes-Benz.
For the first time not one has a manual gearbox. Australians love autos and most of the models here don’t even offer a car with three pedals.
Only one, the Holden Commodore, is built here although the Red Lion is also represented by the Korean compact Trax SUV. Three come from Korea to Japan’s two, reflecting the rise of the former at the cost of the latter. We chose the most popular variant, which is usually the entry level or next to entry level auto. In two cases, however — Kia’s Rondo and the Mazda6 — we felt the more expensive turbo diesels merited admission.
While VW’s Golf has been odds-on favourite for the 2013 contest since it landed, nothing is a foregone conclusion as the contenders go head-to-head in intensive two-day judging on regular roads in the testing terrain around Mount Victoria and Lithgow west of Sydney.
“The cars are real-world and so are the roads on which they’re tested,” says Carsguide editor Paul Pottinger.
Past champions range from the Kia Rio to the MercedesBenz C-Class and include last year’s Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86 sports car twins. The vast majority of the 16 winners are right in the heartland of Australian motoring. Holden has won four times, Ford has won three times, although Volkswagen has been dominant in recent years.
The 10 judges have more than 100 years of combined experience on the motoring beat, covering newcomers since the Ford Falcon of XD in 1979 through to the Renault Clio which was the last inclusion in this year’s field.
PRICE from $40,900 PLUS A new value benchmark for the Benz brand, combined with a surprisingly nice drive.
MINUS Hardly the people’s car, and still way more costly than a Corolla or i30.
RENAULT CLIO TCe
PRICE From $19,790 PLUS A chic shape, smooth ride and solid value. A late inclusion but a worthwhile contender.
MINUS Not particularly punchy and there are some disappointing details.
MAZDA6 TOURING WAGON
PRICE From $41,650 and flexibility in the tail. PLUS Everything that’s good about MINUS Not much, even if wagon sales the Mazda6 sedan, with extra space are slow.
VOLVO V40 T5
PRICE From $45,990 PLUS Much better than we expected, spritely and Volvo safe MINUS Still a Volvo, slightly cramped in the cabin and quite dear.