The 2017/18 Consumer Awards (powered by WesBank) concluded with the announcement of the 13 category- and prestigious Brand of the Year winners at a red carpet event hosted at The Galleria in Sandton this week.

Conceived to be SA’s definitive automotive awards programme, #CarsAwards has steadily grown in stature, reach and influence since the inaugural event in 2016. Apart from being supported by WesBank, South Africa’s largest vehicle finance provider, #CarsAwards is regarded as an energetic, impactful opening number to the automotive industry calendar. Highlights of this (third) iteration of the programme were:

  • Suzuki defended its 2016/17 #CarsAwards Brand of the Year title and also repeated its victories in a pair of categories: Budget Car and Compact Family Car.
  • Mazda tasted success for the first time in #CarsAwards history by winning two categories: Compact Hatch and Family Car.
  • Mercedes-Benz and Toyota, which were recognised in the inaugural #CarsAwards but didn’t win trophies in 2016/17, took the honours in three categories.
  • The Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine and BMW M2 M-DCT were the only finalists to defend their category victories from 2016/17, although the Suzuki Vitara and Volkswagen Golf won their categories with different derivatives.
  • To underline that the winners in each of the categories were based equally on the judges’ scores and brands’ ratings in the Consumer Satisfaction Survey, all the finalists’ totals were revealed during the awards ceremony.
  • In no fewer than five out of the 13 categories the judges’ favourites did not win, due to the impact of the Consumer Satisfaction Survey (more detail to follow).

A total of 20 car brands were represented in the 39 finalists that were in contention for category wins in 2017/18… The Volkswagen Group had 10 nominations (Audi and Volkswagen had five apiece), followed by the BMW Group (four), with Alfa Romeo, Kia, Mitsubishi, Peugeot and Subaru making their first respective appearances in the final.


Category winners of the 2017/18 Consumer Awards – powered by WesBank


Budget Car: Suzuki Ignis 1.2 GL

Compact Hatch: Mazda2 1.5 Individual

Premium Hatch: Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI Comfortline R-Line DSG

Compact Family Car: Suzuki Vitara 1.6 GLX Auto

Family Car: Mazda CX-5 2.5 Individual

Business Class: BMW 420d Gran Coupe Sport Line Sports Auto

Executive Sedan: Mercedes-Benz E350d Avantgarde

Leisure Double-Cab Bakkie: Volkswagen Amarok 3.0 V6 TDI 4Motion Highline Plus

Adventure SUV: Toyota Fortuner 2.8 GD-6 4×4 Auto

Executive SUV: Mercedes-Benz GLC250d 4Matic AMG Line

Premium SUV: Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine R-Design

Fun Car: Mini John Cooper Works Sports Auto

Performance Car: BMW M2 M-DCT


Impact of the Ownership Satisfaction Survey

The importance of after-sales service excellence was highlighted by the impact of the Ownership Satisfaction Survey on the final scores.

“With 50% of a vehicle’s final score determined by a brand’s performance in the Consumer Satisfaction Survey, a car only really stands a very good chance of winning if it is a good product, in the eyes of the judges, and if the brand delivers solid after-sales service,” says Hannes Oosthuizen,’s Consumer Experience Manager.

“We think this is a crucial distinguishing feature of the #CarsAwards, because buying a car is ultimately about much more than just the product. Consumers buy into a brand and essentially enter into a relationship with that brand,” he explains.

This year the survey results impacted five categories in particular. The Toyota Fortuner (Adventure SUV), Suzuki Ignis (Budget Car), Mini JCW (Fun Car), Volkswagen Amarok (Leisure Double Cab) and BMW M2 (Performance Car) all emerged victorious because actual customers rated their brands higher than the competition.


Multifaceted judging process

There are several reasons why the #CarsAwards is of greater significance than most other automotive awards programmes. For one, the winners aren’t chosen exclusively by motoring journalists, who report on (and review) the latest new vehicles in the market…

Although the 7 members of’s editorial team chose the finalists, the combined judging panel (including 11 respected guest judges from various backgrounds and fields of expertise) only compiled the finalists’ individual scores once they’d evaluated the cars back-to-back during a thorough two-day test at the Gerotek facility at the end of 2017.

Combined judging panel (in alphabetical order):

Anele Mdoda (947), Ashley Oldfield (, Ciro de Siena (, Claire Mawisa (Carte Blanche), David Taylor (, Eddie Kalili (freelance editor/writer), Ernest Page (SA Car Fan), Francisco Nwamba (The Motorist), Gero Lilleike (, Jacob Moshokoa (947/EWN), Juliet McGuire (WOW), Khutso Theledi (YFM), Kojo Baffoe (Afropolitan), Mike Fourie (, Nafisa Akabor (Tech Journalist), Phuti Mpyane (The Petrosexual), Wendy Knowler (Consumer Specialist) and Wezile Bonani (Bay FM).


All derivatives listed on the new vehicles price list on September 1 2017 were eligible for selection and the public had just as much say in the outcome of 2017/18 #CarsAwards as the 18 judges did. Fifty per cent of the final standings was based on rankings that the respective vehicle brands achieved in the Ownership Satisfaction Survey, conducted in partnership with data specialists Lightstone Consumer. The data incorporated feedback from thousands of vehicle owners, based on their experiences of their vehicles (less than five years old and serviced through franchised outlets).

In fact, the most prestigious title awarded by #CarsAwards – Brand of the Year – was based solely on the findings of the Ownership Satisfaction Survey.


Brand of the Year

Following its surprise win last year, Suzuki’s good reputation received another boost from this year’s #CarsAwards. The Japanese brand again emerged victorious in the Brand of the Year category, which is determined entirely by market and customer data, the latter from the aforementioned survey (sales and after-sales service in particular).

Suzuki narrowly defeated Mercedes-Benz by 1 per cent, with Mazda scoring the final podium position. Also note the rise of Kia (6th) and Mahindra into the top 10 list.


  1. Suzuki                                        78.2%
  2. Mercedes-Benz      77.2%
  3. Mazda                                         74.7%
  4. Volkswagen                              74%
  5. BMW/Mini                              73.4%
  6. Kia                                               72.8%
  7. Audi                                            72%
  8. Toyota/Lexus                           72%
  9. Nissan                                         71.4%
  10. Mahindra                                   71.4%


“We think the Brand of the Year trophy is the ultimate accolade in the South African automotive industry,” says Oosthuizen. “It represents validation from the people that matter most – actual car owners. Suzuki has managed to achieve impressive market share growth in the past 12 months and has maintained excellent service levels.”

The red-carpet ceremony was hosted by media personality (and #CarsAwards judge) Anele Mdoda and the featured guest speaker, Lwazi Mangwana from Google, shared valuable insights into South African car consumers’ online search activities. The event, which featured live entertainment by GoodLuck, was attended by 350 guests, including industry leaders, representatives of the finance sector, media agencies and celebrities.

The event was digitally broadcast on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and, significantly, streamed live on the YouTube channel, the biggest branded South African channel on the video site. The multi-platform broadcast allowed consumers, who are at the core of’s awards programme, to actively participate in the event.

Visit for more information about #CarsAwards, including the category criteria, and to view images of the award recipients taken at the event.

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