I have driven the 2019 Car of the Year!

I have driven the 2019 Car of the Year!

2018-03-03

No, the headline is not a mistake. I know that this is a brave, bold statement (some would say it's daft). But I can assure you that I know which car will win the 2019 WesBank South African Car of the Year (COTY) competition: the new Volkswagen Polo.

I guess that I am being a bit brazen in making this prediction. After all, the 2018 COTY winner hasn't even been announced yet (that will happen on March 13). And, to be perfectly honest, even though I'm a judge, I have no clue which car will win; there are just so many amazing finalists this year. Of course, the same could happen in the 2019 contest. But I'm sticking to my guns. The Polo will win. And here's why.

When the judges evaluate the COTY finalists, we look at a number of factors: exterior design, interior materials, interior layout, technology, engine, transmission, engineering integrity, build quality, ride quality, steering/handling, affordability, value for money and overall excellence. And really, the new Polo ticks all these boxes!

I love the new exterior design; it's sporty and chunky (I adore the wedge shape). The materials used in the interior are top draw; it feels like a far more expensive car. The interior layout is quite faultless.

When it comes to technology, the Polo excels yet again (it boasts a multitude of driver assistance systems a Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert and semi-automated Park Assist system to name but a few - that were previously reserved for the Golf and Passat class; it's also the first Volkswagen ever to offer a new generation of Active Info Display).

Then there's the engine. Actually, I could write an entire article on the engine alone. It is Simply Superb! It comes with a choice of two turbocharged engines: both one-litre powerplants. The smaller of the two has an output of 70 kW. Standard with both the Polo Trendline and Comfortline, it's perky, responsive and surprisingly quick. It is available with a five-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed DSG. Then there's the 1.0 TSI with an output of 85 kW (which is matched to a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed DSG). At the launch, I drove with a guy who used to edit one of the largest motoring magazines in the country - so he really knows his (motoring stuff). There was one thing that he said over and over again while behind the wheel: "This engine is amazing; I cannot believe it's a one-litre." I totally concur with his sentiments. The manual gearboxes are terrific but the DSG is just incredible; in my mind, Volkswagen's DSG is THE benchmark transmission.

The newcomer to the Volkswagen stable is superbly engineered and built; there are absolutely no rattles or squeaks. This is something of which we - as South Africans - can be really proud, since the Polo is built right here in sunny South Africa.

The ride quality of the Polo is also superb (gosh I'm really waxing lyrical, aren't I?) The steering is faultless and the handling is predictable. My colleagues on the Women's World Car of the Year jury tell me that the new Fiesta (which comes to South Africa in the second quarter of this year) pips the Polo in the handling department - but the Volkswagen certainly doesn't disappoint.

Finally, there's the pricing. Volkswagen normally sells its cars at a premium because, quite frankly, it can. However, the pricing of the Polo is surprisingly competitive:

1.0 TSI 70kW TrendlineR 235 900
1.0 TSI 70kW ComfortlineR 280 700
1.0 TSI 70kW Comfortline DSGR 280 700
1.0 TSI 85kW HighlineR 286 200
1.0 TSI 70kW TrendlineR 286 200
1.0 TSI 85kW Highline DSGR 302 200

In conclusion, one needs to consider the overall excellence of the car - in my mind, this is the single-most important factor when it comes to judging COTY. I'd have to give it 10 out of 10 in this regard. The Polo is a truly excellent vehicle. It will deservedly wear the 2019 COTY crown.


Original source: Charleen Clarke

Recent News

Which Fuel Economy Tour champions have the best resale value?

Which Fuel Economy Tour champions have the best resale value?

2019-11-29

The results of the recent inaugural WesBank Fuel Economy Tour are in so we know which vehicles are super economical. But how do those vehicles fare in the resale stakes?

Which mid-sized SUV has the best resale value?

Which mid-sized SUV has the best resale value?

2019-11-18

The Mercedes-Benz GLC is famous its comfort, the Audi Q5 is a benchmark when it comes to refinement, the Volvo XC60 is synonymous with safety, the Jaguar F-Pace is spacious and handles well while the BMW X3 is a technological wunderkind. But which of these mid-sized sport utility vehicles (SUVs) has the best resale value?

Toyota versus Volkswagen: which has the better resale value?

Toyota versus Volkswagen: which has the better resale value?

2019-11-05

Toyota and Volkswagen are the two giants of the local motor industry; they dominate vehicle sales statistics and both brands are much loved by South African motorists. But which one has the best resale value?

BMW vs Mercedes-Benz vs Audi: which marque has the best resale v

BMW vs Mercedes-Benz vs Audi: which marque has the best resale v

2019-10-22

South Africans have long had love affairs with German cars; they are perceived to be aspirational, luxury vehicles boasting superlative build quality. The three most popular German brands namely BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi all produce premium cars, with an upmarket image, magnificent engines, superbly crafted interiors and good safety features.