It’s a tie

CarsGuide ·

17 December 2012

The Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 are joint winners, edging out the Hyundai i30 after an intensive three-day round of judging and more than 6000km of evaluation by nine COTY judges with more than 100 years of combined motoring experience.

The result is no surprise, because the Japanese sports car twins have been COTY favourites since the day they were unveiled. They also embody the Carsguide mantra and COTY methodology: "Real cars, on real roads, for real people".

The 86/BRZ is a landmark collaboration between Toyota and Subaru, classy engineering with a concentrated focus on driving enjoyment, and value packaging by both brands. That means a $29,990 starting price for the Toyota and driveaway pricing with free servicing on the Subaru.

"This is the era of the SUV and that makes the BRZ and 86 quite remarkable. It's a ground-breaking car, regardless of the badges it wears," says Carsguide editor, Paul Pottinger. "This car is a gift. Has anyone got out of either one without a smile on their face?" says James Stanford, summing up the majority feeling.

The performance of the i30 is a surprise, as it edges the new Toyota Corolla to make the final four showdown alongside the Kia Sorento and Honda CR-V, which fly the flag for the SUV stars of 2012. "I really like the i30, and would give it my number one vote," says Chris Riley.

The COTY showdown for 2012 involves 11 cars including The Twins -- as we dub 86 and BRZ -- nine judges, video and backup crews, and the photographer who insists on a 5am start on Day Two. The judging starts with a 120km run west from Sydney into the Blue Mountains, then laps around a testing and varied 44km loop from Mount Victoria.

Each car has been chosen to reflect the best value and strongest sales, not just for the way it would look if it was fully loaded with an unrealistic bottom line. From the start, the troubled Ford Falcon is in trouble again. Its sales have slumped this year and, despite the addition of the excellent EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, it is still too old in too many ways to make much of an impact.

But by even making the Top 10 COTY contest, it's a winner. It's a pity Ford has not done nearly enough to promote the car, and not enough people have driven a package that makes it the best riding and handling Falcon of its generation. The Ford Ranger, too, struggles. It's a pickup that can do double duty as a family car, and it led the world with five-star ute safety, but it cannot compete in such a classy field.

From the Holden camp, the plug-in electric Volt is a window on the future that's not good enough for the present. We could live with the cramped back seat and the crimped boot and the confusing dashboard if the car was priced at around $35,000. But it's $59,990. "It's trying to be the car of the future but it falls down today," says Karla Pincott.

The COTY crew is doing lots of laps on day one, cycling through the cars and usually going back-to-back with direct rivals such as the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5. This is one mini-contest that produces a surprising bias towards the Honda, as the Mazda is beaten on boot space with a lower loading lip, value and the little things that make a difference to families.

At the end of the day, as push comes to shove and the preliminary scores are tallied, the four finalists become clear -- although The Twins make it five if you're getting picky. Leading the near misses is the Corolla, which is narrowly trumped by the i30. The CX-5 also falls, and we lose the fun little Volkswagen Up.

"The Up is a great city car. But there is no auto and you really can't drive it with any comfort beyond the city,'' says Pottinger. Day two begins early but the focus has shifted, even if some of the judges cannot resist more driving time in cars like the Falcon and the CX-5, and even the Up and Ranger.

"This is a great chance to cover some miles," says James Stanford. By Day two the judges are separating into two camps, as the shortcomings of the Sorento and CR-V take them out of the final fight. The Honda is not strong enough in the engine room for most. Despite the classy Australian suspension settings, the Sorento is not good enough to claim a COTY crown.

The i30 scores for its classy cabin, its affordable starting price, and an overall package which edges the Corolla despite the Toyota's impressive $19,990 starting point. The result comes down to the final voting, with each of the cars scored 4-3-2-1 by each of the nine judges. The Twins win. "This car is brilliant, and it's such a great drive," says Stanford. The Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ are also real cars, on real roads, for real people.

PAUL POTTINGER
1) BRZ/86
2) Hyundai i30
3) Kia Sorento
4) Honda CR-V

PAUL GOVER
1) BRZ/86
2) Hyundai i30
3) Kia Sorento
4) Honda CR-V

KARLA PINCOTT
1) BRZ/86
2) Hyundai i30
3) Kia Sorento
4) Honda CR-V

CRAIG DUFF
1) BRZ/86
2) Hyundai i30
3) Kia Sorento
4) Honda CR-V

STUART MARTIN
1) BRZ/86
2) Hyundai i30
3) Kia Sorento
4) Honda CR-V

JAMES STANFORD
1) BRZ/86
2) Hyundai i30
3) Kia Sorento
4) Honda CR-V

CHRIS RILEY
1) Hyundai i30
2) BRZ/86
3) Kia Sorento
4) Honda CR-V

NEIL DOWLING
1) Hyundai i30
2) BRZ/86
3) Kia Sorento
4) Honda CR-V

JOSHUA DOWLING
1) Hyundai i30
2) Honda CR-V
3) Kia Sorento
4) BRZ/86
 

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Written by

Paul Gover

Published 17 December 2012