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The Inaugural AA Autocar Coty Award

The Inaugural AA Autocar Coty Award

The New Zealand Automobile Association and New Zealand Autocar magazine have jointly developed a new COTY award which will supersede the decade-old NZ Autocar COTY award. Why introduce a new COTY award? Both the Automobile Association and NZ Autocar believe that there is a need for a benchmark COTY award that relies primarily upon objective measurements and uses reproducible scientific procedures, in the best interests of the consumer. The new AA Autocar COTY award is designed to help the car buying public make a more informed decision when purchasing a new car and, in future years, a decent second-hand vehicle.

While it is not the intention of either the Automobile Association or New Zealand Autocar magazine to imply that other COTY awards have no valid role in the NZ market, to date judging of these has largely been a subjective process using retrospective data, which introduces the possibility of recall bias. In the new AA Autocar COTY award, an independent panel of seven judges will compare and contrast all 22 new model cars that went on sale to the public in calendar year 2002 using state-of-the-art safety and performance testing gear, as well as back-to-back comparative track testing, thereby avoiding the issue of recall bias. Both the execution and the results of testing will be audited by technical staff from the NZ Automobile Association, and will be available for public scrutiny.

The first round of judging in February will determine the 10 individual AA Autocar best-in-class category winners. Then in March comparative testing of the 22 cars eligible for the overall AA Autocar COTY award will be conducted in the Taupo district. This will involve two days of safety and performance testing at the Taupo race track utilising a new high-tech GPS-based VBOX data acquisition system. VBOX has featured on BBC’s Top Gear, and determines velocity accurately to within 0.1 km/h.

After driving the eligible contenders, the judging panel will then rate each car using a 20-item score sheet. The three top scoring finalists will subsequently be driven back-to-back by the judges over local Taupo roads representative of typical New Zealand secondary highway conditions. They will then be re-evaluated using a weighted scoring system which enables a model from one class to be compared fairly with a model from another class. The top-scoring vehicle will be declared the winner of the overall AA Autocar COTY award.

The winner of both the overall and category awards, along with an AA readers’ award, will be announced at a black tie gala evening on Mar 29 at Auckland’s Sheraton Hotel.

(see attachment for a complete list of passenger vehicles eligible for the inaugural AA Autocar COTY award, and for the list of judges)

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