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View Poll Results: What car will win the 2008 Wheels Car of the Year
Audi A4 10 22.22%
BMW 1-series Coupe 3 6.67%
Ford Falcon FG 15 33.33%
Honda Accord 0 0%
Honda Accord Euro 2 4.44%
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 1 2.22%
Jaguar XF 5 11.11%
Mazda6 3 6.67%
Volkswagen Tiguen 1 2.22%
Mercedes-Benz C63 2 4.44%
Honda Jazz 3 6.67%
Voters: 45. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 12-17-2008, 03:33 AM
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2008 Wheels Car of the Year - what car will win?

About this time each year I start a thread previewing Australia's main Car of the Year Award which is announced by Wheels Magazine in their February issue each year.

I bought the January issue today, and it has a full list of the cars that have been nominated for the award.

The list is as follows.
Nominated:
Audi A4
BMW 1 Series Coupe
BMW 1 Series Convertible
Ford Falcon FG
Honda Accord
Honda Accord Euro
Honda Jazz
Jaguar XF
Mazda6
Mazda CX-9
Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo
Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart Sportback
Peugeot 308 hatch
Peugeot 308 Touring
Smart ForTwo
Subaru Forester
Volkswagen Tiguan

Nominated but no cars for testing (hence can't win)
Fiat 500

Eligible But Not Nominated for final testing
Audi A3 Cabriolet
BMW X6
Chrysler Grand Voyager
Chrysler Sebring cabrio
Citroen C5
Dodge Journey
Fiat Ritmo
Hyundai iMax
Jeep Cherokee
Kia Rondo
Lexus LX570
Mini Clubman
Proton Persona
Renault Koleos
Renault Laguna
Volvo XC70

Ineligible
Holden Commodore VE Sportwagen (not new enough)
HSV W427 (not new enough, insufficient sales)
Maserati GranTurismo (sales)
Mercedes-Benz C-Class Wagon (newness)
Mercedes-Benz CLC (newness)
Renaultsport Clio (sales)
Porsche 997 911 (newness)
Skoda Octavia Scout (newness)
Subaru Impreza sedan (newness)
Subaru Impreza WRX STi (newness)
TRD Aurion (newness)
Volvo V70 (newness).

The full list of criteria by which the award is judged is listed here: Wheels - The COTY Criteria

Note: the Nissan GT-R is NOT on the list this year because it is not officially on sale in Australia yet. However, providing Nissan can prove it plans to sell more than 250 cars a year, it should be eligible next year.

Also, please note the the outright best overall car or best drivers car may not be the car that will win the award. The winner will be the car that best matches the criteria. So those who assume that the Mercedes-Benz C63 or Lancer Evo X are certain to win, may wish to look at the full criteria by which the award is judged first.


So, from the above list what will or should win?
Or more correctly, can the Ford Falcon FG be beaten? The Falcon would have to be a very short-priced favourite to win the award this year.
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Old 12-17-2008, 03:39 AM
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I'll quickly run through the cars that I think are the favourites.

Audi A4. May make the final 8 contenders. Value will be an issue, especially when compared to the similar sized but much cheaper Mazda6 and Honda Accord Euro. Is it worth the extra? This is likely to determine how well the A4 does. My thoughts? Will probably make final 8, but no further.
BMW 1-series Coupe This was my pick for the car that should win the award, until I picked up today's issue. My reasons? Good value compared to the opposition and especially the 3-series Coupe. Blitzes the technology, efficiency and safety criteria. Excellent dynamically, but a little bit tight in rear seating, so reasonable against the function criteria.
However, after reading today's issue, I'm not so sure. Seems it wasn't an automatic entry into the final testing. Apparently the 1-series coupe didn't have enough support from the judges and editors for automatic entry, but
thought worthy of a second look. So, the 1-series Coupe & convertible, plus the Citroen C5, Peugeot 308 hatch & Touring and Volvo XC70 were taken on two days testing to see if they were worthy of joining the final competition. The BMWs both made it in after this - mainly thanks to their dynamics. The Peugeots also made it in. However, the Citroen didn't (poor steering and ride) and nor did the Volvo (poor dynamics).
So on this basis, I doubt the 1-series Coupe will have much of a chance after all. I thought it should win and would make the top 3. Now, I'm not so sure. So, in summary: Chance to make final 8. Won't win. And the 1-series Convertible will have no chance.
Honda Accord. Good value, especially in V6 form. Interesting cylinder shut down technology (though this is hardly new, it is one of the cheapest cars on the market with the technology). Excellent build quality and packaging. Reasonable dynamics. Recently won the Drive Car of the Year award. However, the performance of 4-cylinder engines may hurt it. As will comparison with its sibling the Accord Euro and last year's runner up the Ford Mondeo. My thoughts? A dark horse. May make top 8, but unlikely to win.
Honda Accord Euro. A better chance than the bigger Accord. Better performance, better dynamics, better value. Question marks on its electric steering. And its evolutionary compared to the old Euro rather than revolutionary like the old car. Also, will be constantly compared with Mazda6 - and this will probably hurt both cars as they are damned close. My tip? Top 8 certainly. Possibly in contention for top 3 and may be an outsider for Car of the Year.
Honda Jazz. Would be a strong contender if it has ESP It doesn't offer it on any model. And since ESP has to be standard for eligibility for next year's award, it has no chance. Won't even make the top 8. Which is a shame as it otherwise presents a strong argument with decent drivetrains, dynamics and great packaging. Summary: Will finish well down as it fails against the safety criteria.
Jaguar XF. Strong contender. Brilliant dynamics, drive trains (particularly the diesel), safety credentials,quality. Apparently packaging is an issue - with tight interior space. However, the question of value will be where this car's chances rest. Its great value compared with a BMW 5-series above it. Not so when compared to a Falcon FG G6E Turbo, which is about 90% as good and less than half price. And since the Falcon is the favourite, this question will come up constantly for the Jag. If judged good value against its normal rivals like the 5-series - it will make the top 3 and maybe win. If,as is more likely, it is judged poor value against the cheaper Falcon, it will only make the top 8. Will be interesting to see which way the judges go. Summary: Top 8 for sure. Should be top 3. Outside contender to win.
Mazda6. See the summary for the Accord Euro. The same comments apply to the Mazda, except it has better steering than the Euro but is less refined. Once again, an evolution - not a revolution like the previous model. Summary Top 8 certainly. Possibly in contention for top 3 and may be an outsider for Car of the Year. (Will be ranked alongside the Euro. If one wins, the other will be second for example..)
Volkswagen Tiguan. After talking to IB4R, I'm in agreement with him that is car, like the 1-series Coupe, is another that should be in contention for the win. Has excellent petrol and diesel engines. Excellent quality. Decent dynamics. Good value. Only question may be whether it is just a Golf on stilts? My tip? Will make top 3. Should win, and is a strong chance to win.

Now, I left out a whole lot of contenders, because I don't think they have a chance. The Mercedes-Benz C63 and Lancer Evo X may be amongst the best performance cars released in the past year. But questions on value and whether they are too narrowly focussed will hurt their chances. Either one may at best make the top 8.
The Peugeot 308 is an outside contender for the top 8. Since it almost didn't make it to the final testing, it probably won't. But it does offer decent packaging and reasonable value.

I mentioned the Jazz above in my summary of individual cars because its an example of a car which really should be a contender but won't be.
Of the eight cars I mentioned above, one won't make it the top 8. The other seven are the cars I believe should make the top 8.

And of course I left one car out. This is the car that is the short priced favourite. And any discussion about this year's COTY award will revolve around this car.
Ford Falcon FG. I think there are many reasons why this car will win - and win easily. It is strong against every one of the criteria until one starts to nitpick. It has decent dynamics, from the base model through the high performance FPV variants. The six-cylinder engines are very good, and provide smoothness, performance and decent economy for their size. The turbo engines are simply brilliant. The FG is the first Australian car to gain an ANCAP 5-star safety rating. Its also easily the best car in its class - having surpassed both the 2006 winning Commodore VE and 2006 COTY top 3 finalist, the Aurion.
Going against the FG are the fact that it is, simply, a great car at the wrong time. The market is moving away from large family cars. Most private buyers overlook the FG.
Safety may also be an issue. Nitpicking here - as the car does have a 5-star rating. But curtain airbags are not standard in the base car. And ESP is not available on the LPG models.
Quality is another issue. Has been in past Falcons. And there's not doubt that despite improvements, that there are many similarly priced European and Japanese cars that are higher quality.
Value is a strong feature of these cars (esp compared to Euro cars of similar size), but if resale is considered part of the value equation, then Falcons have poor resale, so it may hurt.
Finally, the V8 engines suffer in comparison the the turbo engines and the dynamics of the XR variants are not quite as good as the VE SS (a recent comparison in Wheels between the XR6T and VE SS saw the nod given to the SS on the basis of dynamics).
But the reason this car shouldn't win in my opinion is simply that it is evolutionary. The BA model which I own was revolutionary in many ways and represented a significant advance for Australian large cars. It shows how good the BA was that the FG is only an evolution on an already good package.
However, there's no doubt in my mind that the FG will win the award. It is almost a foregone conclusion. And it will be controversial - whether it wins or not.

That's my thoughts. Anyone want to explain why the Falcon FG won't win? We can all give reasons why it shouldn't, but this in itself isn't going to stop it from winning.
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Last edited by motorsportnerd; 12-17-2008 at 03:44 AM.
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  #3  
Old 12-17-2008, 03:47 AM
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I am interested to read why they consider the C5 to have a poor ride.....
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Old 12-17-2008, 04:24 AM
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The A4 or the Euro Accord, both great cars, but the Accord is better value for money.
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Old 12-17-2008, 04:38 AM
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This is the new C5, and for some reason the Pneumatic suspension does not cope well with Australian roads, despite Citroens history of well riding cars.....

In my opinion the Volkswagen Tiguan is the dark horse in this race & my tip for victory. MoSpoNerd & I have discussed these reasons at length, but this is my top 3:

BMW 1 Series Coupe: A Car Wheels magazine, along with much of the motoring press have a hard on for. Great value compared to rivals, fun to drive, fufills most of the criteria.

Ford Falcon FG The Sentimental choice, The Australian choice, and by no means a bad car. There are problems with Efficiency, newness & how relevant it is to todays marketplace. Not winning CoTY could be the killer for this type of car in the Australian market, and any result for this vehicle will cause controversy - favourable or not.

Volkswagen Tiguan Hear me out on this. The Tiguan has moved on the game in it's class (the Compact 5 seat SUV) significantly, and won the 9 car comparison Wheels put on by a considerable margin. The car itself is well made, handles safely, is well equipped & surprisingly good value.

This year hasn't been a stellar one for new car releases - in fact, there have been very few uncompromised standouts the past few years, but to me the Tiguan represents the best choice.
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  #6  
Old 12-17-2008, 04:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by henk4 View Post
I am interested to read why they consider the C5 to have a poor ride.....
What IB4R said, our roads are shocking compared to european roads, it wont be the first or last european car that cant cope on aussie roads
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Old 12-17-2008, 04:52 AM
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Previous European vehicles (Renault 14 comes to mind) coped admirably, but the sportier set up of the Citroen means it couldn't cope.

The CoTY tests are hell on European spec suspension, they have an undulating road test to check rebound on suspension, and in 1998 an Audi A6 bottomed out constantly on such a test - with European spec suspension.

Needless to say it was not Car of the Year.
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Old 12-17-2008, 04:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by henk4 View Post
I am interested to read why they consider the C5 to have a poor ride.....
I'll directly quote the magazine. "After two days under the microscope, the Citroen C5...failed to convince [the judges] of their merit. Through the slalom, the big Citroen teamed lifeless electric steering with an understeer-prone chassis. On the road, the soft C5 lacked body control, yet still suffered crash-through over sharp hits. Over coarse-chip tarmac, there was also a surprising - and unwelcome - amount of road noise."

Basically, doesn't sound the suspension is very well matched to Australia's roads. Often cars that offer excellent dynamics and ride on European roads don't translate to Australian road conditions very well.
Seems that's the problem with the C5 in Australia.
They like the V6 Twin Turbo engine and six-speed auto combo however - calling it "slick".
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Old 12-17-2008, 05:22 AM
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I'd tip the FG over this field. I don't want to label any car inferior, However i think this field isn't a full list of strengths. A few here and there but generally not a top class field from A-Z. So number one tip FG as the range has vaule from base to sport into luxury.

I agree on the side of is it as new as it should be going on criteria.. One could argue the VZ could have made the list from VT-VX etc.. New engines transmissions tweaking of the IRS and front suspension set-up.. Interior make over pretty much a new rear body wise front more bolt overs..
Then we take the FG as a new front suspension and tweaked IRS basically a familiar drive with engine transmissions etc. But atleast new to look at and interior is completely changed.

I was more against the BA. Body wise it's similar to VX into VY. But with the FG i don't have the same issues.. I'm happy to class it as a new car. It might share looks and similarity with it's predecessor but so does the VE.

Dark horse I'm going for the Mitsub Lancer.


On the Sportwagon. I'm shocked. It's new comparing it with it's predecessor. It as far as i know doesn't run on the VE architecture it's running on Statesman ?. Same with the ute even if they have said it is. But anyway.
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Old 12-17-2008, 05:23 AM
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Me vote for MB C63...

Me love big V8 merc...
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Old 12-17-2008, 05:29 AM
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I've had a major argument with MoSpoNerd about the newness criteria, Slick. I have to say the inclusion of the Falcon was probably an edge decision - meaning it could have gone either way.

Rather than incurring the wrath of Australia, they erred on the side of "Why not?"

I just don't think it's a new enough car, personally. the point of the newness test was to either change significantly dimensions of the vehicle or include major chassis/drivetrain revisions. The FG does neither over the BF.
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Old 12-17-2008, 05:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SlickHolden View Post
I was more against the BA. Body wise it's similar to VX into VY. But with the FG i don't have the same issues.. I'm happy to class it as a new car. It might share looks and similarity with it's predecessor but so does the VE.

Dark horse I'm going for the Mitsub Lancer.


On the Sportwagon. I'm shocked. It's new comparing it with it's predecessor. It as far as i know doesn't run on the VE architecture it's running on Statesman ?. Same with the ute even if they have said it is. But anyway.
The Falcon BA looked quite different to the AU it replaced - front and rear anyway. However, it ran substantially new engines, upgraded transmissions, had new front and rear chassis structure, new suspension, completely new interior and in terms of the way it drove was light years ahead of the AU. Much of the technology that found its way into the BA - such as the IRS and the 24-valve engines - weren't actually due until the FG. Which in turn was originally due a few years ago. But such was the amount of money spent transforming the AU into the BA that it lived much longer than originally planned with only a couple of facelifts over the six year life of the BA-BF. So to me the BA was the revolutionary car. Whereas the FG is the evolutionary car - it even looks evolutionary.

As for the Sportwagon - I believe its ineligible because it is not sufficiently new in comparison to the VE sedan range (rather than in comparison to the VZ wagon). It uses most of the same structure and chassis as the VE sedan, so they didn't consider it a model in its own right.

Of more interest is how did the C63 make it in? It must be significantly different to the normal C-Class to warrant inclusion.

And since the C63 made it in, I'm not sure how the TRD Aurion didn't. It seems to be as different to the standard Aurion as the C63 is to the standard C-Class.
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Old 12-17-2008, 05:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IBrake4Rainbows View Post
I've had a major argument with MoSpoNerd about the newness criteria, Slick. I have to say the inclusion of the Falcon was probably an edge decision - meaning it could have gone either way.

Rather than incurring the wrath of Australia, they erred on the side of "Why not?"

I just don't think it's a new enough car, personally. the point of the newness test was to either change significantly dimensions of the vehicle or include major chassis/drivetrain revisions. The FG does neither over the BF.
The FG isn't the only car where such concerns can be raised. The Mazda6 and Accord Euro carry over many structural and chassis components of the old car. The Euro carries over the engines. The Mazda has an enlarged engine - but I don't think its all new.
However, if we dropped the FG, Euro and Mazda6, then the field would be starting to look pretty thin.
Thus showing how quiet the past year has been for new models. This is certainly not like 2006 for instance.
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Old 12-17-2008, 05:43 AM
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Indeed.

It's foolish to think that Manufacturers can't improve on products from a few years ago - constant refinement is what the industry is moving towards, not just for cost purposes, but for ease of manufacturing & parts sharing.
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Old 12-17-2008, 05:44 AM
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Quote:
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What IB4R said, our roads are shocking compared to european roads, it wont be the first or last european car that cant cope on aussie roads
in this respect the hydropneumatic suspension is the first step to your road improvement. After the Wall fell, Citroens became very popular in Eastern Germany just because of the poor road quality. You may want to do an experiment by driving a BMW (any model) over a bad piece of road and then a C5.....(Remember the Top Gear episode where Clarkson mounted a TV Camera on the roof of a C6 and a BMW 5-series to film the horse races?)
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