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It’s a tie

  • By Paul Gover
  • Carsguide
  • Photos

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    The Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ are real cars, on real roads, for real people. Photo Gallery

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For the first time in the 16-year history of the Carsguide Car of the Year contest the award is shared.

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
 

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 12 comments

  • What were you looking for?  The cheapest car that could go around a corner?

    Comparing a city car to a 4WD or a sports car is absurd.  To say that a city car doesn’t do well on a long drive is also absurd.

    These awards are a joke.

    Shane of Australia Posted on 12 January 2013 9:36am
  • I don’t understand how the Sorrento made the list?  From the back it looks like someone has tried to give it a butt lift.
    Just ugly to me.

    Scotty of QLD Posted on 08 January 2013 4:00pm
  • Have to agree with the judges seeing I own an 86 and will never drive another 4 door sedan again in my life. For sheer driving pleasure it can’t be beaten for the price.

    Rob SDchmidt of Victoria Posted on 18 December 2012 8:15pm
  • A fantastic win for Subaru (and for Toyota for CC’ing it). A well deserved win for a fantastic car. It makes driving to work a pleasure, the more traffic the better coz you’re in the car longer. Well done Subi. Cant believe one judge put it last! Does he know anything about cars?

    Anne Posted on 16 December 2012 2:17pm
  • Well done to Joshua, Neil and Chris for not just playing safe and going along with the herd.

    TomW of Australia Posted on 14 December 2012 11:32pm
  • Finally, A subaru wins COTY, the impreza is also a underrated car. Worth a look at just for its handling.

    Daniel Auburn of Victoria Posted on 14 December 2012 8:15pm
  • Good choice would love to have a mid life crisis in a BRZ/86 and your comments are true on Falcon which is a sad story. I an era where all is the same in a SUV world the BRZ/86 is a welcome anomalie which is affordable and brings back how we used to look at Celica’s in the late 70’s early eighties!

    @roxbyharry of Roxby downs Posted on 14 December 2012 4:55pm
  • Not surprising after the unprecented amount of hype these cars have received this year.
    Personally I’m sceptical that they can be THAT good.

    Davey G of Sydney Posted on 14 December 2012 11:58am
  • I posse but one question, how easy is it to enter and egress if you have a soar back, hip, leg or shoulder. Cars are becoming less and less practical in the ability of the majority to actually use one. To name low slug sports based cars as the best shows that the journalists involved have no understanding of the needs of the population. SUV’s are popular for many reason, but a primary reason not spoken about much is entrance and egress, it’s only when your able to get in that you can appreciate the view.

    Wayne Posted on 14 December 2012 11:14am
  • Are all motoring journalists little blokes? I tried an 86 and the brz and couldn’t fit in either of them. I’m only 6’4” but my head was touching the roof and I couldn’t take my foot off the clutch without my knee rubbing the steering wheel! Unbelievable! And you call this a car for “real people” - get a full grown man to review some of these cars and see how far they get - instead of what must be your current stable of boy racers. Get real Cars Guide. Car of the year my arse.

    Rob Fiddyment of Hobart Posted on 14 December 2012 8:28am
  • No shocks here. They are the same car.

    Chris of Australia Posted on 14 December 2012 7:48am
  • I won’t buy Hyundai i30 over Toyota Corolla. Once I have bought Brand New Hyundai because it was recommended by car guide.
    However, I wanted to give it back to Hyundai dealer after one week but dealer told me I’ll lose as much as $ 2000. Hyundai cars and Toyota cars are different class. If I can’t afford new car and then I’ll buy any used Model from Toyota or Honda.

    Cliff of Melbourne Posted on 14 December 2012 4:26am
Read all 12 comments

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