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2006 has gone past really quickly, and another big year for the car companies is coming to an end, and now its that time of the year when all the big publishers give awards to their “car of the year“. Here at Car Advice we don’t exactly have a car of the year award in a nice fancy hotel with food and drinks, mainly because we haven’t driven nearly all the cars we’d wanted to (and we can’t afford the hotel), its not as easy as it seems when your not part of a big publishing company.

So instead of trying to come up with a list of car of the year awards, I thought it would be worthwhile to instead review what the two main online publishers have chosen as their cars of the year.

If your wondering what online publishers I am talking about, its CarsGuide and Drive.com.au, CarsGuide is owned by News Corp and Drive is owned by FairFax. So when they hold awards, you can bet that car companies take notice. Firstly lets go over Drives Car of the year awards :

Meanwhile, CarsGuide went a different way, and instead came up with a list of rounds and finalists and then decided to pick the Holden VE Calais V8 V-series as the best car of 2006… so who else thinks Holden is lining News Corps wallet? The top 10 finalists for CarsGuide are below:

So firstly lets have a look at drives car of the year, the Audi TT 2.0 TFSI. Yes its a beautiful car and I have to admit I am somewhat surprised that Drive gave their award to the Audi given it hasn’t really had much time to prove it self in Australia. I can only imagine that Audi will go ecstatic with their advertising for the new TT.

I can see the Audi TT being the car of the year overall, but to be the best performance car over $60,000 puts it alongside cars like Nissan 350z Roadster, the Mazda RX-8 and if we really want to compare it to other European rivals, the Audi TT goes up against all the CLK range from Mercedes and the BMW Z4 M Coupe. Audi TT, performance car of the year? The TT must have really impressed some judges!

Performance cars under $60,000 is another class set to boil the blood of any car nut. To see the GTi win this award is somewhat shocking. Don’t get me wrong, the GTi is an absolute delight to drive but to be the best performance car under $60,000 is a big big claim especially when your going up against many heavy weights. Drive has long written off the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX and the Subaru Impreza WRX STi, mainly because it would be almost embarrassing for them to test these cars due to their “boy racer” image. So drive has instead decided to put the Liberty GT in this category along side Holden Commodore SS V and Renault Megane RS255.

Now if I had to pick 4 performance cars under $60,000 to test, those would definitely not be my choice. Drive editors say the new SS V demolished Fords XR-6 Turbo and XR-8 so hence the big V8 deserves a place in the performance cars. I ask drive, what happened to the following cars :

  • Subaru Impreza WRX STi
  • Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX
  • Ford Focus XR-5
  • Mazda 3/6 MPS
  • Honda Integra Type-S

I really would have loved to see the Golf GTi put up against the Mazda 3/6 MPS and even better the XR-5 which not only has more power than the GTi but also handels better and in my opinion, looks better too!

So now we come to majorly debated section of the car of the year awards, the Large Car segment. Once dominated by the Holden Commodore and the Ford Falcon, 2006 saw the introduction of the Toyota Aurion. Are Holden and Ford really scared of the Toyota Aurion? Even if they weren’t before, they really should be now as the Aurion won the best large car award for 2006.

“It’s not often Ford and Holden are outclassed in the segment they dominate, but Toyota Aurion large car sets new benchmarks in performance, refinement, value and safety,” Drive judges said.

“Oddly enough, despite being the most affordable model in the range, Toyota’s Aurion had more standard features and safety equipment than its rivals. The Aurion has more power than any other car in this group and yet is the most fuel-efficient.”

Of course anytime Drive awards Toyota an award everyone is a little skeptical as those two have always had a relatively close relationship. Nevertheless I believe the Aurion does indeed deserve to be the best large car of the year, and Toyota agrees:

“This award confirms Toyota is producing the best Australian-made car, we aimed to beat our rivals on power, fuel economy, safety, refinement, value, features and prices. The experts have now confirmed we’ve succeeded.” Toyota Australia’s senior executive director sales and marketing, David Buttner

As you can see the Honda Accord Euro was crowned the best Medium car, and reward well deserved for a car which is starting to show its age. The Euro is a true performer, and a package that is quite hard to beat!

“The Japanese mid-sizer is three years old and still going strong. Gives BMW 3-series and Audi A4 a run for their money, let alone similarly priced rivals. The Honda ticked all the right boxes across our five criteria… the drivetrain was the pick of the bunch with one judge saying the five speed was almost “intuitive”, adjusting to your driving behaviour even when in full automatic mode.” Drive Judges

If your really keen to see how Drive actually do their test drives, they have kindly put out a massive 58 page eMagazine going over every single car they tested and how they came to the winners, you can find the magazine here, beware, its 9MB. If you flick through the magazine you might notice a few odd things, for example the pages following the Audi TTs crowning for best car of the year, there is a single page ad from… guess who? Audi, advertising the new TT. Hmmm…. amazing.

But even more amazing is CarsGuide car of the year awards, the new VE Calais V8 wins the car of the year award? Come on! Holden were really quick to respond:

“This is a win for Holden’s 8000 employees who have given their all to deliver the VE Commodore, It’s really gratifying to see the car recognised for all the hard work of everybody at Holden to make VE Commodore successful.

“Recognition from some of Australia’s most accomplished automotive media adds to the credibility of the award. This is a real honor for an Australian manufacturer which is competing with the world’s biggest car brands in this market.” Holden Chairman and Managing Director, Denny Mooney

I know everyone would like Holden to stay strong and get through the tough times, but for the VE V8 Calais to win the best car of the year award in 2006 is a big no no. We are now entering 2007 and its time to encourage car companies who are willing to move away from Big V8s (and 6s) and look for more fuel efficient options and award those who put money in R&D for fresh ideas. I don’t know how many people will take the Car of the year award from CarsGuide seriously at all!

So thats another year down, next year we are hoping to hold our own Car of the year awards, perhaps will less elegance (we won’t have a rewards ceremony at the Hilton) but nonetheless it shall be good!






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