Home' Horizons : February-March 2012 Contents THE WINNING
VEHICLES FOR 2011
To the casual observer, the
new car market can appear
to have more annual award
programs than the entertainment
industry. However, the Australia's
Best Cars program stands out from
the crowd because its main aim
is to help consumers choose the
best new car for their needs and
their budget. Australia's Best Cars
(ABC) gathers and assesses the
key information on more than
300 cars to help consumers make
that all-important choice.
"What sets the ABC judging
process apart from other
vehicle award programs is
that it incorporates as many
measurable elements as possible,"
explained the RAC's judge,
"Basically, if it can be measured,
it is. Also setting ABC apart is that
the judging criteria and the actual
scores for all the vehicles are made
public, and published in the annual
Australia's Best Cars magazine.
This means that consumers can
easily make direct comparisons
between models in a particular
category using the detailed scores
allocated by the ABC judges
throughout the year."
The program is run by Australia's
motoring clubs, and as an RAC
member you get important benefits
from your club's involvement.
"Being part of the Australia's
Best Cars program helps ensure we
are completely across the newest
models to market, those models
that are just over the horizon and
the market trends that influence
them. This means the RAC is
well equipped to guide members
on their new car purchases -- not
only through Australia's Best
Cars, but also via the regular new
car reviews in Horizons and in
response to individual member
queries about new cars," Mr
One of the most important
aspects of the Australia's Best
Cars program is that it helps
drive changes in the new
vehicles that manufacturers
bring to the Australian market.
By encouraging demand in
consumers for features such as
optimum safety equipment and
fuel efficiency, ABC seeks to spur
car manufacturers to bring these
features to market as early and
affordably as possible.
In the 2011 awards one
Volkswagen cars were winners in
a third of the categories, with five
awards, and were also finalists in
a further two categories. Their
success was down to a number
"Volkswagens scored well thanks
to their quality engineering and
build, their comfort and the high
levels of technology they have
been able to squeeze into their
vehicles while keeping the prices
reasonable," Mr Forrest said. "Much
of this technology is safety and
efficiency related, which always
appeals to the judges."
In fact, Korean and European
cars took out 12 of the 15 awards.
Mr Forrest attributed this success
to these manufacturers' keen
reactions to the demands of
"Hyundai, Kia and the
Volkswagen Group brands
including Skoda, Audi and of
course VW are particularly
responsive to the demands of the
Australian market. Australia's Best
Cars can take credit for driving
some of this demand. These
brands often take note of the
awards and respond accordingly,
bringing to market well equipped
and well priced cars that
Australians want to drive," he said.
The needs of motorists here in
WA do vary somewhat to those of
our eastern states cousins, which is
why it's so important for the RAC
to ensure it has a representative
on the panel of judges.
"Given approximately 60 per
cent of the WA road toll comes
from crashes on country roads,
I rate vehicle safety technologies
such as fatigue detection, lane
departure warning systems and
ESC particularly highly. The wildly
fluctuating fuel prices in Perth's
metro area also means that
a vehicle's fuel efficiency is
a particular consideration for me
as the WA judge on Australia's Best
Cars," explained Mr Forrest.
OUR WA JUDGE'S
1. Punching well above its weight is the
Kia Rio. It's matured tremendously and
now it offers not only a five-star ANCAP
safety rating, but very good pricing. Most
surprisingly of all, it's good to drive --
especially in manual form. A deserving
winner in the highly competitive Light Cars
Under $20,000 segment.
2. The Mercedes Benz C Class C250 CDI
Avantgarde was also a particular standout.
For me, it was the combination of that
$67,900 retail price, the 2.2L diesel engine
that performs like a 3L and Mercedes'
trademark carved-from-a-billet build
quality. An example of just how good
a medium sized car's steering, ride and
handling can get.
3. The Volkswagen Touareg V6 TDi easily
traversed any off-road challenge we threw
at it in Angelsea, but it deserves the big
accolades because it manages to combine
this ability in the rough stuff with sharp
handling on the bitumen. For $77,990, you get
a diesel V6 packing 550Nm and a beautifully
appointed interior. It's in the luxury SUV
category, but it's still great value for money.
PHOTOGRAPHY: AUSTRALIA'S BEST CARS.
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