In the final part of our South African Car of the Year (COTY) spotlight, Mambaonline looks at the last three finalists in the 2009 competition. And, we predict a winner…


Another former SA COTY winner, Ford’s Fiesta – in its current shape – is just about brand new to our shores. Mambaonline attended the launch in the last quarter of 2008, and the entire range kept us grinning for quite some time; we then suggested that a 2009 COTY win wouldn’t surprise us. While such a win still wouldn’t shock us, we’re now not sure whether it has everything it needs to stack up against the competition…

In this contest alone the Fiesta is up against two other significant competitors: Honda’s new Jazz and, perhaps to a lesser degree, Suzuki’s Swift. While the Fiesta may have the best design amongst them all and loads of nifty features uncommon to this segment, it loses out against the Jazz in terms of practicality and Honda’s legendary reputation for quality.

A prediction of where the Fiesta will end is therefore not as easy as one would think. We need not sing its praises all over again because it’s a great car in every possible way, but compared to the other finalists, it perhaps loses out slightly. I’d give the Fiesta an outside chance of winning the COTY.

PRICE: R157 990.00

COMPETITORS: Mazda2, Honda Jazz, Suzuki Swift, Opel Corsa, VW Polo, Hyundai Getz, Renault Clio, Peugeot 207


Audi’s new A4 is another brilliant and delightful car with its sights set on the COTY crown. Mambaonline attended the launch early in 2008 convinced that there’s nothing better out there, when compared to its traditional German rivals.

It may all boil down to brand loyalty when you’re buying one, but in this contest, with two other finalists from the same segment, the A4 is unfortunately out of its depth.

It’s an attractive, sporty-looking car that seems to transcend the borders of classic luxury and modern innovation, and in that sense it would be our pick if we were to choose between it and the C-class and 3-series. But the segment includes other players, some offering a package that would make you look twice.

PRICE: R298 000.000

COMPETITORS: BMW 3, Mercedes Benz C, Lexus IS250, Mazda6


When Mambaonline tested the new Honda Accord in October last year, we concluded that the Accord is an exceptionally accomplished car that not only challenges the mainstream sales leaders in its segment, but should also scare the living daylights out of them. This opinion still holds true, with the new Accord’s COTY nomination simply confirming what we already know.

Accord has been in production since 1976 and has sold over 16 million units globally. South Africa only became acquainted with Accord in its seventh incarnation, and that model too scored a COTY nomination in the same year that the previous generation Jazz got its COTY nod. Will 2009 finally be Honda’s year?

I think so. While the Jazz appears to be a solid contestant with a good chance of taking the title, the Accord seems almost a sure bet. It offers everything you could ask for: refinement, good looks and real driver appeal. Honda’s quality and after-sales reputation, shown by its consistently high ranking in consumer surveys such as that of JD Power, should further count in its favour.

Priced at just under R300 000, it’s at least as well equipped as cars costing 10% more, it’s great fun to drive, and it’s gorgeous to look at. While it may not be a car I would necessarily buy for myself, it’s clearly the logical choice in this competition. The Honda Accord is therefore my official prediction for the 2009 COTY contest. Winning will undoubtedly change the narrow-minded perceptions created by lovers of the German Three.

PRICE: R285 000.000

COMPETITORS: BMW 3, Mercedes Benz C, Lexus IS250, Mazda6

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