NZ Car of the Year 2018 revealed
The AA and NZME’s Driven have revealed the Mercedes-Benz A-Class has taken home the prestigious AA Driven New Zealand Car of the Year 2018 award, beating off fierce competition from nine top contenders.
A panel of judges, consisting of AA staff and motoring journalists, selected the Mercedes-Benz A-Class after putting the top 10 finalists through their paces at Pukekohe Park Raceway.
Accepting the award in front of nine jurors and over 200 industry colleagues and key industry players in Shed 10 at Queens Wharf, Auckland, Ben Giffin, general manager of Mercedes-Benz, pictured below said: “Ultimately, the A-Class redefines our brand, most people who are buying the A-Class are actually new to the brand. Thank you to the AA and Driven for Mercedes-Benz to receive this inaugural award.”
The AA Driven New Zealand Car of the Year was selected from a shortlist of new models released to the market between October 1, 2017, and September 30, 2018.
Past winners have included the Škoda Kodiaq (2017), Mercedes-Benz E-Class (2016), BMW i3 (2015) and Mazda 3 (2014).
Honours for best in class
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class wasn’t the night’s only winner. Alongside the car of the year award were 10 best-in-class categories. The selection pool covered any new vehicle still for sale in New Zealand as opposed to one having been released over a 12-month period.
The best micro/light car was the Suzuki Swift. The Mercedes-Benz A-Class captured the best small/compact car award and the Holden Commodore took home the best medium/large car gong.
The BMW 5-Series won best luxury car, which was accepted by BMW New Zealand managing director, Karol Abrasowicz-Madej. The Volvo XC40 took top prize in the small SUV category. The award was accepted by Volvo New Zealand's general manager, Coby Duggan.
"The Volvo XC40 has been our best-selling vehicle this year," said Duggan. "If we could have had more production capacity we would have sold more."
The best medium SUV was the Subaru Forester, while the Mazda CX-8 received the best large SUV award. The Jaguar F-Pace took home the luxury SUV award.
The Volkswagen Amarok took home the utility award and the best sports/performance vehicle was the Mazda MX-5.
The award in the electric vehicle (EV)/plug-in hybrid class went to the Hyundai Kona. Last year was the first year for EVs to be recognised at the awards ceremony reflecting increased demand for low-emissions vehicles.
The AA Driven Car of the Year awards also acknowledge advances in safety. The Toyota Corolla was this year’s safest car, which is scored not judged by using ANCAP’s safety ratings during the 12-month period. Last year’s winner was the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
From November 1, a record 53,000 New Zealanders voted for the people’s choice award. This year it came down to a race between the Suzuki Swift Sport, Hyundai Santa Fe and Mazda CX-8, but the Suzuki Swift Sport came out on top.
List of this year’s winners:
Micro/light: Suzuki Swift Sport (sponsored by ANZ).
Small/compact car: Mercedes-Benz A-Class (BNT).
Medium/large car: Holden Commodore (Protecta Insurance).
Luxury Car: BMW 5-Series (ICG).
Small SUV: Volvo XC40 (Experieco).
Medium SUV: Subaru Forester (Fleetline).
Large SUV: Mazda CX8 (Jevic).
Luxury SUV: Jaguar F-Pace (Bluestar).
Sports/performance: Mazda MX-5 (Castrol Professional).
Utility: Volkswagen Amaroq (Supercity Towing).
EV/plug-in hybrid: Hyundai Kona (MTA).
People’s choice: Suzuki Swift Sport (Driven).
Safest car: Toyota Corolla (MITO).
Top 10 finalists for the AA Driven New Zealand Car of the Year 2018:
Hyundai Santa Fe, Hyundai Kona, Hyundai i30N, Subaru Forester, Volvo XC40, Kia Stinger, Holden Commodore, Suzuki Swift Sport, Mazda CX-8, Mercedes-Benz A-Class.