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Electric vehicles charge into contention for Car Of The Year

AA and NZME’s Driven have today revealed that for the first time in the awards’ history, nearly a third of the top 10 contenders in the running for the country’s most prestigious motoring award are electric or hybrid models.

This year’s AA Driven New Zealand Car of the Year Awards will pinpoint the New Zealand Car of the Year plus Best in Class, alongside the popular publically voted People’s Choice Award powered by Driven, with winners announced at a cocktail event on 10 December.

A panel of judges drawn from the country’s finest motoring journalists and the AA has selected the top 10 vehicles, which this year features vehicles in a range of classes and prices including two electric vehicles (the Jaguar i-Pace and Tesla Model 3) and one vehicle which is available as a petrol/electric hybrid (the Toyota RAV4).

In alphabetical order, the top 10 finalists for the 2019 AA Driven New Zealand Car of the Year are:

BMW 3 Series
Ford Focus
Holden Acadia
Jaguar i-Pace
Peugeot 508
Renault Megane RS
Tesla Model 3
Toyota RAV4
Toyota Supra

Chief Judge and Driven’s Editor at Large Liz Dobson said the judging panel was impressed with the variety of vehicles which stood out this year.

“From everyday use family vehicles to luxury, sports performance and hot hatches, and prices from $31,990 (for the Ford Focus) to $144,900 (for the base model Jaguar i-Pace), there’s a great mix of vehicles in this year’s top 10,” Liz said.

“The BMW 3 Series delivers a sporty yet comfortable drive with enjoyably low seating and firm and assured handling, while the Ford Focus is fun to drive but also has the practicality of a well-designed hatch and a very capable adaptive cruise control system.

“The Holden Acadia is a big, bold, brash and unashamedly American seven-seater with a better-than-expected performance and plenty of tech; the Jaguar i-Pace has power and torque up to V8 supercar standard but is also great for everyday driving, while the Mazda3 is a significant step up from previous generations with modern safety equipment and confident driving dynamics even on challenging roads.

“The Peugeot 508 has the potential to overcome any residual prejudice against French cars with its strong design, frisky-yet-frugal powertrain and premium level fit and finish, while the Renault Megane RS is a hot hatch which sounds fantastic in sport settings but could also double as an everyday runabout.

“The latest electric vehicle to hit our roads, the Tesla Model 3, is an everyday car that packs a punch with an easy-to-use single screen to operate many functions; the Toyota RAV4 has good safety technology, outstanding fuel economy and a striking new look which reflects a keen off-road rugged nature, and lastly the Toyota Supra has convincingly athletic road-holding abilities and a reasonably strong 250kW/500Nm inline six capable of yanking it off the line to 100km/h in 4.1 seconds.”

AA Motoring Services General Manager Stella Stocks said the top 10 vehicles have been put through their paces in a rigorous trial both on the road and at the Pukekohe Park Raceway.

“Each of the top 10 finalists have been put through a set of exercises that saw all judges scoring from the driver’s seat. To top it off, Kiwis can see what went on in the testing process with video content from the trials that includes commentary from the judges,” Stella said.

“We are confident that the AA Driven New Zealand Car of the Year Awards are the country’s most comprehensive motoring awards, and that motorists will be provided definitive answers on the top vehicles in the market today.”

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