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No. 1 VT goes to the top of the tree

VT Commodore winner in new poll of motoring editors of Australia's most popular daily newspapers

The VT was the clear winner in a new poll of the motoring editors at Australia's most popular daily newspapers.

The Commodore was the top choice from the class of 1997 with three of the five voters, while the Subaru Forester 4x4 and Lexus GS300 took the other first-place votes.

The Toyota Camry ranked second overall, ahead of the Forester thanks to a string of second-place points, with the Lexus and Mercedes-Benz SLK next.

The Commodore clean-up was led by Wayne Webster of Sydney's Daily Telegraph, who was joined by Bob Jennings of the Adelaide Advertiser and Paul Gover from Melbourne's Herald Sun.

But it wasn't a clean sweep, as Bruce McMahon, the motoring editor at Brisbane's Courier Mail, rated the Forester first and Mick Glasson from the West Australian in Perth gave top points to the GS300.

The five testers who decided the first Star Car winner have more than 100 years experience in the motor industry and each test drove all the major new-car arrivals of 1997, from the Audi A6 to the Volvo S40.

Four of the five have been honoured as Australian Motoring Journalist of the Year and all but one have combined their writing with motor racing.

They make a powerful new team in the motor world, combining experience and enthusiasm with the knowledge which comes from reporting cars and the automobile industry for more than 10 million Australians each week.

"The VT Commodore was the stand-out new-car introduction this year with plenty of clever, in-house engineering and design work, and introduced with competitive pricing," said Bob Jennings of the Adelaide Advertiser.

But Bruce McMahon, of The Courier Mail, believes the Forester goes one better.

"It has a surprising combination of on and off-road ability," he said. "The standard setter for this new generation of light utility vehicle."

Glasson had high praise for the high-performance new Lexus.

"The GS300 is close to the perfect package of size, style and performance with a generous dose of luxury thrown in for good measure. All this at a sensible price," he said.

The five judges each cover more than 100,000 kilometres a year in dozens of new vehicles, from micro mini cars to massive four-wheel drives.

They were each asked to name the three best new cars of 1997, in order, from the 50-plus showroom debutants.

Their first-place choices were awarded three points each, with two points for second and one for third.

The VT Commodore scored 13 points, from the Camry with seven and the Forester with four.

The Commodore's clear win was no surprise to Jennings.

"It sets high standards of passive safety thanks to the team under Laurie Sparke, and the active side of the equation is improved with sharper handling - especially on rough roads - due in part to the standard use of independent rear suspension," he said.

"Despite its bigger bulk, it's a smart-looking thing, and the wagon is a huge carry-all, offering more sensible transport than many four-wheel drives."

The second-placed Camry was very highly rated, but couldn't match the size, impact, or home-grown appeal of the Commodore.

"In any other year the Camry probably would have been the Star Car," Wayne Webster, of the Daily Telegraph said.

"This year it is only just beaten by the Commodore. The Holden is more significant and will have more appeal for more ordinary Aussies."


The rankings

1. Holden Commodore VT 13pts
2. Toyota Camry 7pts
3. Subaru Forester 4pts


How they voted

PAUL GOVER, Herald Sun, Melbourne
1. Holden Commodore
2. Toyota Camry
3. Subaru Forester

WAYNE WEBSTER, Daily Telegraph, Sydney
1. Holden Commodore
2. Toyota Camry
3. Mercedes-Benz SLK

BRUCE McMAHON, Courier Mail, Brisbane
1. Subaru Forester
2. Holden Commodore
3. Mercedes-Benz SLK

BOB JENNINGS, The Advertiser, Adelaide
1. Holden Commodore
2. Toyota Camry V6
3. Mitsubishi Magna
V6 Sport

MICK GLASSON, West Australian, Perth
1. Lexus GS300
2. Holden Commodore
3. Toyota Camry

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