Australian car buyers are spoiled for choice, as this year’s Australia’s Best Cars (ABC) awards clearly show.
In 2000, the inaugural year, the judging panel assessed some 127 cars across 10 categories. In 2009 – the 10th annual awards – the number has peaked at 283 across 12 categories.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the commitment to ensuring the awards remain the easiest to understand and most relevant guide to new vehicle buying.
How they are judged
There’s no one ‘hero car’, but instead comprehensive and impartial scores for all types of buyer in at least 17, and up to 21, criteria.
The volume-selling variants of each model range, as nominated by the car companies, are rated from one to 10 for all these criteria by a panel of 10 judges.
Responsibility for compiling information on pricing, cost of depreciation, running and repair costs, fuel consumption, warranty, standard features, safety, security and environment is shared among the judges, who are all permanent employees of the seven state auto clubs.
Senior Road Ahead journalist Barry Green and technical researcher John Ewing are the RACQ’s representatives on the judging panel.
The subjective scoring for other criteria (comfort, space, ergonomics, build/finish quality, performance, ride, handling, braking and smoothness/quietness) is discussed and debated by the judges.
A level of importance (low: L, medium: M, high: H, critical: C) is then applied to each of these ‘raw scores’. This ‘weighting’ varies from category to category (e.g., a factor such as handling is weighted as ‘medium’ in the Small Car category but ‘critical’ in the Sports Car categories.
In early October, three finalists in each of the 12 categories are selected for exhaustive back-to-back testing at the purpose-built Australian Automotive Research Centre at Anglesea, Victoria.
After a week of examination and driving them over a range of road surfaces, category scores are reviewed and checked by the judges before being dropped into custom software, which generates the overall tallies.
Only then, and after robust debate on the subjective criteria, are the 12 winners decided.
Want to know moreFor full scores and further information, visit www.australiasbestcars.com.au.
The five-door, 1.6-litre, five-speed manual petrol Ford Fiesta LX, the latest iteration of Ford’s volume-seller among the range, is dearer than the Mazda2 Neo, Toyota Yaris YRS, Honda Jazz 1.3 GLi, Suzuki Swift and Hyundai Getz SX.
Hyundai was clearly not prepared to settle for just one Australia’s Best Cars trophy in the cabinet for the i30.
The sixth-generation Golf launched earlier this year came with a host of mechanical changes housed in a cleaner-looking body.
Starting with a list price well below its major rivals and with sound resale values, Aurion beats all comers on pricing and depreciation values.
For the second year running, the 2.5-litre, four-cylinder, diesel iMax has beaten strong competition, this year from the upgraded Honda Odyssey and a newcomer to this category, the rear-wheel-drive Ford Territory Ghia.
Cars in this class are meant to have strong appeal for enthusiasts; cars that, courtesy of their finely honed road skills, bring that grin of satisfaction to a keen driver’s face. The BMW 135i Coupe does this in spades.
Luxury sports cars aren’t for everyone; firstly, because of the price and, secondly, the performance focus often results in occupant comfort and city driveability being compromised.
This all-new six-cylinder Liberty is a real surprise. At just over $50,000, it comes standard with plenty of desirable features that would be costly options on many of the higher-profile European models in this category.
It took something special for a newcomer to upstage three-time consecutive champion Lexus GS 450h, but the new Audi A6 3.0 TFSI Quattro did just that, outpointing or matching the luxury hybrid in a number of criteria.
Subaru has done it again with the new Outback – created a class leading ‘soft-roader’ that drives like a car and yet performs more than adequately off-road.
Often built on the foundations of the more-serious all-terrain four-wheel drives, luxury models can prove to be surprisingly capable.