MEET THE JUDGES
Arrived this year as a COTY debutante, but as the former editor of MOTOR magazine, Campbell has lorded over no fewer than seven of that magazine’s annual Performance Car of the Year testing events. He’s used to dealing with a team who all think they’re the Stig’s driving coach and fields of cars where the slowest has merely one nuclear power station at the treads, so his first-ever Wheels COTY was a comparative stroll in the park.
As one of only three judges (along with Inwood and Byron) to carry over from last year, Westerman found himself in the perplexing position of having to appear as though he had half a clue what was going on. Was recently reclassified with official ‘old fart’ status by admitting that, for a daily, he now favours torque over kilowatts, ride comfort over roll stiffness, and audio-system fidelity over exhaust notes. Doesn’t own a trilby, but give him time.
This year, our former editor turned video content director could concentrate on other elements of the production almost equally important. These include ensuring his toothy smile glinted perfectly when hit by the lights of the video team, and throwing the largest SUVs in this year’s field into the most comical shapes. Can pedal, but curiously, the size to which he inflates his cheeks is in exact proportion to the angle of his oversteer.
As some of us get older and fact retention requires more effort, Byron’s super-computing automotive brain mysteriously seems to get a boost of processing power each year, along with another few terabytes of storage. Which comes in handy for the rest of us when we can’t be bothered asking Google or our phones are flat. Fills in any spare moments of COTY downtime by singing show tunes and dreaming up ribald drag-queen names for his colleagues.
Former MOTOR editor, so plenty of experience taming the fast and dangerous. These days he oversees the whichcar.com.au website, so if there’s industry news breaking, Robbo knows about it and already has the story angle sussed. Can sniff out a car’s weak points like a customs’ cocker spaniel given a suitcase from Bolivia. Spends some of his spare time racing his track-prepped Honda Civic; the rest of his time cursing and throwing spanners at it.
Was a senior figure in Holden’s design department since the late ’80s, so brings a wealth of knowledge about not just what constitutes intelligent design, but the challenge of getting it budget-approved by the bean counters. Approached the COTY field by applying two over-arching criteria to underpin the five established ones: “What does it bring to the broader automotive landscape? And is it something that we’ll all benefit from in the longer term?”