The Hyundai Elantra 1.8 GLS has won the 2012 Car of the Year title at the prestigious annual competition of the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists.
The elegant Elantra — Hyundai's medium luxury sedan — was announced as the winner at the SAGMJ and WesBank's Car of the Year banquet at Gallagher Estate in Midrand on Wednesday night. [Read our review of the Elantra]
It is the first time that a Korean car has been awarded the South African Car of the Year prize, and it follows two years where Hyundai Automotive SA had been knocking hard at the door. In the 2011 competition, Hyundai had two finalists — the ix35 and the Sonata — and the i20 was a finalist in the 2010 Car of the Year competition.
In January, at the Detroit Motor Show, the Elantra was announced as the North American Car of the Year, and it also won the overall prize in the Canadian Car of the Year competition.
"We are extremely proud of the recognition that a world-class product such as the Hyundai Elantra has received from the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists," said Alan Ross, managing director of Hyundai Automotive South Africa, after receiving the Car of the Year trophy.
"This award, and the fact that we had no less than two finalists in the previous competition, is confirmation of the giant strides that the Hyundai brand has made locally and globally. It is also recognition of the quality and emotional appeal that the Hyundai products have developed as part of the brand's 'Modern Premium' strategy."
The Kia Picanto came in second, meaning the Koreans held the top two spots. The VW Jetta rounded out the top three, while Suzuki's Kizashi placed fourth. The only Italian among the ten finalists, Alfa Romeo's Giulietta, secured fifth position, while the Audi A6 and Ford Focus could only manage sixth and seventh respectively.
Citroën's DS4, Peugeot's 5008 and the Mercedes-Benz SLK rounded out the top ten.
All the finalists were put through their paces at the world renowned Gerotek vehicle test facility outside Pretoria via a number of modules designed to properly test the vehicles within a controlled and safe environment. Jury members were given 25 points in total to allocate to no more than five of the finalists and no less than three as is done in the European competition.
1. Hyundai Elantra 1.8 GLS: 230 Points
2. Kia Picanto 1.2 Ex: 155 Points
3. Volkswagen Jetta 1.4 TSI 118kW Highline: 141 Points
4. Suzuki Kizashi 2.4i SDLX 6MT: 49 Points
5. Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1.4 125kW MultiAir Distinctive: 48 Points
6. Audi A6 3.0 TDI quattro S tronic: 30 Points
7. Ford Focus 2.0 TDCi Trend PowerShift Sedan: 27 Points
8. Citroën DS4 1.6 THP 200 Sport: 22 Points
9. Peugeot 5008 Active 2.0 HDi: 20 Points
10. Mercedes-Benz SLK 350 BlueEFFICIENCY: 3 Points
Do you think the Elantra is deserving of the title? Or what do you think should have taken the prize? Leave a comment below...