Top ten list of tough choices

by Andy Bryenton

At a time of the year when top ten lists and awards ceremonies abound, one of the toughest decisions has to be the coveted title of car of the year. Here in New Zealand that choice is informed by a varied and challenging driving environment — and auto manufacturers never make it easy to select a winner, with new offerings striving to excel in areas as varied as fuel economy, environmental impact and sheer luxury.

However, there can be only one. Unlike in other international selections, just a single vehicle will be crowned best of the best. The final selection for this year contains some wild cards indeed, all of which vary from the current reigning 2017 champion, the Skoda Kodiaq.

BMW’s X3 is the priciest offering in the range and brings the ethos of Germany’s ‘ultimate driving machine’ to an evolved and stylish four-wheel drive platform.
Subaru’s Forester approaches the same ground from a very different direction, as a ‘grown-up’ and more advanced iteration of the still popular go-anywhere wagon of yesteryear. Meanwhile, Skoda’s Karoq is looking to repeat the stellar performance of the Kodiaq, with a different spin on the same alchemy which made its stablemate number one.

Toyota’s Camry is a far cry from the original of the same name, adding a little of the excitement and stylistic edginess of its big brothers in the Lexus range while retaining Toyota’s dependable reputation. Holden brings a bit of the best of the old and the new with a Commodore wagon that’s a long way from the one your dad used to drive — but with the same space and practicality welded to greater efficiency and fuel economy.

Hyundai’s affordable Kona crossover proves that good things come in small packages and with smaller price tags, while Kia’s surprising, potent Stinger packs a turbocharged punch and proves that the Korean marque can mix it up with the big boys in terms of performance. Mercedes bring the sophistication and pedigree of their larger models to the hatchback market in the form of the A-Class, and two Volvos — the XC40 and XC60 show that the Scandinavian badge is not just about safety — it stands for style, individuality and nimble handling as well.

All said a tough group from which to pick a winner. On December 12 that’s just what the judges will do, crowning one of these machines NZ Car of the Year.