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Mercedes-Benz, Toy­ota, BMW, Volvo and Mazda were among the man­u­fac­tur­ers that won awards at this year’s Con­sumer Awards, but it was Suzuki that popped a bot­tle of well-de­served sparkling wine: Not only did they walk away with the Brand of the Year award, they also won in the cat­e­gories for Bud­get Car and Com­pact Fam­ily Car. The Con­sumer Awards, spon­sored by Wes­bank, was held at the Gal­le­ria con­fer­ence cen­tre in Sand­ton. The cer­e­mony was hosted by ra­dio pre­sen­ter Anele Mdoda. Her fel­low host for the evening was Art, short for Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence. Art is a cheeky com­puter that an­nounced the nom­i­na­tions and win­ners in each cat­e­gory. The trick un­der­scored just how in­no­va­tive the mo­tor­ing in­dus­try has be­come. Dur­ing the awards cer­e­mony, 20 man­u­fac­tur­ers and 39 models bat­tled it out to win the top spot in one of the 13 cat­e­gories. The judg­ing panel con­sisted of a re­spected group of mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ists and ra­dio per­son­al­i­ties, but they too had to wait un­til the cer­e­mony to find out who had won. In five of the 13 cat­e­gories, the judges’ favourite did not win. This is due to the unique judg­ing sys­tem of the Con­sumer Awards – 50% of the fi­nal score is based on feed­back given by the pub­lic in the Con­sumer Sat­is­fac­tion Sur­vey. Af­ter-sales ser­vice plays a de­ci­sive role. “With 50% of a ve­hi­cle’s fi­nal score de­ter­mined by a brand’s per­for­mance in the Con­sumer Sat­is­fac­tion Sur­vey, a car only re­ally stands a very good chance of win­ning if it is a good prod­uct, in the eyes of the judges, and if the brand de­liv­ers solid af­ter-sales ser­vice,” says Hannes Oosthuizen, the con­sumer ex­pe­ri­ence man­ager of “We think this is a cru­cial dis­tin­guish­ing fea­ture of the #CarsAwards be­cause buy­ing a car is ul­ti­mately about much more than just the prod­uct. Con­sumers buy into a brand and es­sen­tially en­ter into a re­la­tion­ship with that brand,” he ex­plains. Celebri­ties like Derek Watts, Gareth Cliff, DJ Fresh and Boity Thulo at­tended the red-car­pet cer­e­mony.

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