Th­ese 10 must be­come one

Th­ese are the best cars of the year. Now to find the best of the best

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

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.

MERCEDES-BENZ A200

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.

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