Over the course of the past decade, Porsche has claimed the South African Car of the Year (Coty) title four times. 2020's winner was the Jaguar I-PACE, which costs about the same as a two-bedroom apartment in northern Joburg. Much like the glory days of Top Gear, you'd be forgiven for thinking that SA's Coty jurors had become... what's a nice way of saying this?... out of touch.
In the Car of the Year 2021 Awards, sanity (or reality) prevailed with the announcement of the people-pleasing Peugeot 2008 as the overall winner. There are also other fun vehicles on the list that mere mortals with bonds and bills can afford.
Here's a look at those accessible category winners (also some of the best cars in South Africa) according to the latest Car of the Year awards. Plus, what makes them so great and what kind of driver is typically behind the wheel of each one.
No, it wasn't named after the International Year of the Potato. Instead, the Peugeot 2008's name comes from the company's 92-year history of assigning its cars model numbers. It won both the Compact Family category and the Jurors' Excellence Awards, with the judges describing it as "powerful" and "distinctive", and proof that technology and pleasure aren't incompatible. Anyone who's ever used a PlayStation would likely concur.
Who's driving it? Someone with enough style to appreciate the bold looks and enough smarts to not spend three times as much on a Range Rover Evoque.
The Budget Category is all about practical, entry-level, cost-effective and fuel-efficient cars, and the lovechild of the 2019 alliance between Toyota and Suzuki was named 2021's winner. Coty judges said the latest iteration is true to the ethos of a compact, efficient and value-focused product. It's stylish, it's got a bit of attitude and it'll probably keep running for eternity.
Who's driving it? Someone who turned their nose up at driving the excellent Suzuki Baleno without realising that it's pretty much the same car.
You know what category you're playing in when you Google "Hyundai Venue" and the first two search results are a Ford EcoSport and a VW T-Cross. The Venue out-Coty'd both in a tough category. Apparently named for an eventing space, the Compact Category winner is super tough and more spacious than you'd think.
Who's driving it? People who need space for a small to medium-sized dog, and don't mind biding their time before attempting to overtake.
2021's Family Category featured the Audi A4, VW Caravelle and Mercedes-Benz GLA, all very different vehicles, serving very different purposes. Either way, the Coty judges gave the nod to the A4, praising the fact that Audi's engineers have made it sportier and more intelligent than before. It's pretty, it's well-specced and the base model is cheaper than its real competitors (the BMW 3 Series and Merc C-Class).
Who's driving it? People with 'Senior' in their job title, who enjoy a fine single malt and aren't shy to tell you about it.
Looking for a "leisure SUV with practicality and supreme 4x4 ability", the Coty judges named the Land Cruiser Prado the winner of the 2021 Adventure Category. It's big enough to warrant its own postal code, the base model costs just over R1 million and it has a Mogul mode. Enough said.
Who's driving it? Suburban warriors who still brake to near-standstill every time they come to a speed bump.
Coty 2021's Toyota Treble is the winner in the Double Cab Category. Straddling the divide between "I can move boulders the size of a Toyota Starlet with this thing" and "What do you mean 'go offroad'?", the Hilux has evolved from a sturdy workhorse into a bit of a show pony with "a sturdy sports bar styled to challenge the status quo". But make no mistake: it's still a Hilux, and it can still get tough when it has to.
Who's driving it? Rugged farm owners who occasionally like to jam some Cardi B via the touch-screen multimedia system they claim not to know how to use.
Fancy driving a genuine South African Guild of Mobility Journalists Car of the Year 2021 winner? You'll need insurance! Get a quote in two easy steps with Hippo's Car Insurance Comparison Tool and lord it over the neighbours until next year's winners are announced.
And while you're at it, have a look at our Great South African Car Guide, where you'll find these vehicles and many more, including a Porsche or two, of course.
This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal or medical advice.