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Meet the 2020 AutoTrader Car of the Year Semi-Finalists

South Africa’s premiere motoring journalists have voted. So too have members of the public. The votes have been tallied and 25 semi-finalists have been announced for the 2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year competition.

One of these semi-finalists will win the most sought-after title in the South African automotive industry, that of 2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year. 

“The 25 vehicles hail from 16 different car manufacturers, and they include anything and everything from family runabouts to sports cars, and from luxurious sports utility vehicles (SUVs) to bakkies,” reveals Rubin van Niekerk, chairman of the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists (SAGMJ).

Some of the vehicles on the list have already won major international accolades. The Jaguar I-Pace, for instance, made history when it won an unprecedented three awards – World Car of the Year, World Green Car and World Car Design of the Year – at the 2019 World Car Awards. “Were it to win the 2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year title, it would be the first electric car to take top honours in the 34-year old competition,” notes AutoTrader CEO, George Mienie.

In most competitions around the world, journalists don’t get together to physically drive the vehicles


The Mazda3 has recently been named Supreme Winner at the 2019 Women’s World Car of the Year Awards. It also scooped the 2019 Thailand Car of the Year and the 2020 China Car of the Year trophies, while the Toyota Corolla has recently been named a 2020 European Car of the Year finalist.

AutoTrader became the title sponsor for the competition, organised by the SAGMJ, in 2019 – and it has facilitated the successful consumer vote. According to Mienie, public interest in the competition is intense. “This year, the number of public votes by AutoTrader’s car buying consumers has more than doubled. This is a clear indication that South Africans want to have their say in these top motoring awards,” he comments.

And which vehicle did they vote for? “Of all the semi-finalists, the car that received the most public votes was the Mazda3,” Mienie reveals.

Now that the semi-finalists have been named, voting for the finalists will commence; for the first time in the competition’s history, consumers will be able to vote alongside motoring experts. A special event in Johannesburg on December 4 will reveal which cars make up the 14 finalists.

This event will be followed by the test days in March 2020, when 27 of South Africa’s top motoring journalists (our Editor, Vuyi Mpofu being among them) will put the vehicles through their paces. According to Van Niekerk, this is one of the most important components of the competition. “In most competitions around the world, journalists don’t get together to physically drive the vehicles. They simply score them electronically or on paper. In South Africa however, journalists spend two full days evaluating every single aspect of each finalist – from design, technology and engineering to handling, safety and value for money; followed by the final scoring. Our methodology is both thorough and extremely scientific, and yields the most deserving category and overall winners,” he added.

Commenting on the list of Finalists, Vuyi said she was delighted to see the Mahindra in the running, adding that the brand had worked hard to establish itself in the market, “Making it onto the list is not only a huge vote of confidence for Mahindra, but also a clear demonstration that even though South Africans are extremely particular about the brands they drive, they are fair and open to acknowledging vehicles which are not ‘main-stream’. 

The category and overall winners will be announced at an event hosted by AutoTrader in April 2020.   Herewith a list of the 2020 AutoTrader South African Car of the Year semi-finalists

Audi A1

Audi Q3

BMW 3 Series

BMW 8 Series


Citroën C3 Aircross

Ford Ranger

Ford Ranger Raptor

Hyundai Atos

Hyundai Santa Fe

Jaguar I-PACE

Kia Sportage

Mahindra XUV300


Mercedes-AMG CLS 53

Mercedes-Benz A-Class Sedan

Mercedes-Benz GLE

Mitsubishi Triton

Peugeot 5008

Subaru Forester

Suzuki Swift Sport

Toyota Corolla Hatch

Toyota RAV4

Toyota Supra

Volkswagen T-Cross

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