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Mazda CX-5 crowned the AMI NZ Autocar Car of the Year

MEDIA RELEASE
12 December 2012
Mazda CX-5 crowned the AMI Insurance NZ Autocar Car of the Year for 2012
New Zealand’s leading motoring critics have judged the Mazda CX-5 as the overall winner in the annual AMI Insurance NZ Autocar Car of the Year award.

After two days of road testing the six category finalists, the Mazda CX-5 topped the scores with 546.5 out of a possible 700 points, outscoring the Volvo V40 by just two points to take the win.

Each category finalist is assessed out of 100 points taking into account aspects such as design, performance, safety, practicality, specification and value. The scoring is weighted so that cars in each category can be reasonably compared with those from another.

Taking out the inaugural People’s Choice award was the Toyota 86, which received 15 per cent of the overall votes, followed closely by the Mazda CX-5, with 14 per cent.

The 2012 AMI Insurance NZ Autocar Motorcycle of the Year has also been named and this year it was the MV Agusta F3, beating the new Ducati Monster 659. Judge Paul Owen said “These are two focused bikes targeting different markets. The Ducati is the best learner bike ever created, however, it’s shaded here by a finely honed sports bike with a full ensemble of electronic riding aids that only costs $5k more.”

Here’s what the judges said about each of the car category finalists, in order ranked by their overall scores, from the judging days:

Car of the Year 2012
SUV of the Year – Mazda CX-5
Judges combined score: 546.5
There were plenty of contenders for the SUV award, but the CX-5 was a clear victor with the clean-sheet approach to its design. With a choice of two- and four-wheel-drive options, frugal petrol and powerful diesel engines and three well considered model lines, the CX-5 range has something for everybody. It’s a versatile wagon that offers room enough yet doesn’t waste space. That it looks good, is well priced and above all, is satisfying to drive sees it the deserved winner.

“Mazda has managed to inject a diesel SUV with the MX-5 gene,” Paul Owen.
“The impressive CX-5 is miles ahead of other Japanese and Korean SUVs. In fact, it's better than most of the Europeans as well,” Shaun Summerfield.
“The complete family car,” Dave Moore.
“The CX-5 represents everything that is good about Mazda at present and it’s easily the best vehicle of its kind on the market,” Rob Maetzig.
“Plenty of space, comfortable with lots of extras in a value for money package,” Paddy Casey.
“Does so many things well and there's little wrong with it,” Kyle Cassidy.
“Best truck in the segment, and a great Kiwi wagon,” Peter Louisson.

Compact Car of the Year – Volvo V40
Judges combined score: 544.5
The executive newcomer snuck in late to steal the title from the Civic Euro, winning on its styling, safety and overall desirability. It fits plenty into its compact dimensions, including some of the best seats around and an interior design that wouldn’t look out of place on a vehicle costing twice as much. It’s a comfortable yet dynamic car that does so many things, so right.

“Surprise package of the finals,” Rob Maetzig.
“Close to perfect, the car I'd choose to drive 1000km in,” Dave Moore.
“Refined and comfortable yet satisfying to drive,” Kyle Cassidy.

Luxury Car of the Year – BMW 3 Series
Judges combined score: 535.5
The 3 Series is another to stand head and shoulders above the other class contenders. With the latest edition, BMW has kept the essence of the model intact, meaning that it remains a car with the driver at its heart, but now there is even more of the good stuff, seemingly without the loss of any character. The 3 is more spacious and refined yet cleaner and quicker while also being safer. It’s a more-of-everything scenario, which makes it a hard-to-beat package.

“Took just one corner to appreciate the talents of this car,” Peter Louisson.
“Just what you expect from BMW, a real pleasure to drive,” Paddy Casey.

People’s Choice Award 2012
Performance Car of the Year – Toyota 86
Judges combined score: 523.5
What could possibly beat not only a brilliant new Porsche 911 but also the astounding Boxster? A 40 grand Toyota is what. The 86 is a sports car that has gone back to the basics. It offers balanced, entertaining handling, its controls are a tactile delight, and its engine needs to be worked to deliver. The accessibly priced 86 also wins because of its usability in terms of the everyday, and when exercising its abilities.

“Great dynamics. Welcome back to performance motoring, Toyota!,” Rob Maetzig.
“So emotionally stimulating that I almost cried tears of joy while driving it,” Paul Owen.

Medium/Large Car of the Year – Toyota Camry
Judges overall score: 484
While we liked the Falcon Ecoboost, its lone XT offering wasn’t enough to win a gong here, while the 300C is a great car if a little pricey. Hyundai’s i40 spiked some interest, but the quiet achievers are the ones you need to watch, like the Toyota Camry, which picked up the award. The most improved player of the year proves that big cars aren’t dead. Now more interesting to look at and drive, it’s refined, well specified and no longer a rental car joke.

“At last a Camry you can buy because it's good, not because the dealer gave you a good discount,” Paul Owen.
“There's no way the old model would have made the cut, but this new Camry deserves its spot in the finals,” Rob Maetzig.

Small Car of the Year – Suzuki Swift Sport
Judges combined score: 460.5
The Swift was a winner last year, and with its sportiest halo variant again eligible for the award on the account of a new powertrain, we couldn’t help but vote it a winner again in 2012. This is a lot of car for less than $30k. Suzuki has added refinement and economy yet kept the performance and fun-to-drive nature intact. OK, they might have taken away the delightful steering, but a more liveable yet still lovable Swift Sport is all good in our books.

“Mighty mouse this one is, but you do need to work at it,” Peter Louisson.
“Bouncy, but fun nonetheless,” Dave Moore.
“More refined but still fun...and naughty if required,” Sean Summerfield.

You can see video footage from the judging days in the motoring section of Stuff.co.nz from tomorrow or subscribe to both print and digital editions of NZ Autocar at www.mags4gifts.co.nz.

Ends

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