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AJAC TEST FEST 2016 - CAR OF THE YEAR

By Benjamin Yong, 26 Jan, 2016 10:43 AM

    Showcasing the best new vehicles

    As spring is rapidly approaching, so is the announcement of the winners of 2016’s Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) Canadian Car of the Year (CCOTY) awards. While the two official victors - one each for the passenger vehicle and pickup truck/SUV segments - won’t be known for a few more weeks, AJAC has already named the top models across nine market categories competing for the crown.

    A total of 41 newly introduced offerings by automakers were tested at the annual weeklong October AJAC evaluation event known as “TestFest,” this year taking place for the first time in and around the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Clarington, Ontario. About 80 accredited journalists - myself included - engaged in a total of 1,911 test drives involving public roads, performance, handling and off-road courses to rate factors ranging from ride comfort and handling to interior quality and road noise.

    The purpose of CCOTY is to provide Canadian consumers with credible comparative information on vehicles that are new to the market. Program co-chair Justin Pritchardsays the benefits are twofold. “First, back-to-back testing brings out even subtle differences between competitors, which are reflected in the scoring results,” says Pritchard.

    “And second, all of our results are quantified. When a vehicle wins or loses in the program, the public can see precisely why, since all of our testing and voting data is published online at www.ajac.ca. This isn’t a popularity contest. When we declare a winner, we’ve got hundreds of thousands of data points, collected during thousands of man-hours of controlled test-drives, to back it up.”

    International accounting firm KPMG tabulates all the results, and keeps information confidential until the news is officially made public.

    Below are the models that have been deemed the best new vehicles in each category. Tune into the Canadian International Auto Show in February when the overall top honours are handed out in Toronto.

    Small Car: Honda Civic Sedan

    Honda says the latest iteration of the Civic is the “most ambitious remake of the model in its 43-year history.” To go along with its bold looks, two engines are being introduced, including the brand’s first turbo powerplant.

    Engine: 1.5-litre turbocharged four cylinder

    Horsepower: 174 @ 5,500 rpm

    Torque (lb-ft): 162 @ 1,800 rpm

    Transmission: CVT

    Fuel consumption (city/highway L/100km): 7.6/5.5

    Base MSRP: $24,990

    Family Car: Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen 1.8 TSI

    Based on the new Volkswagen “MQB” platform, the manufacturer describes the Sportwagon as sleek, with the versatility of an SUV and the manoeuvrability of a car.

    Engine: 1.8-litre TSI four cylinder

    Horsepower: 170 @ 4,800 rpm

    Torque (lb-ft): 185 @ 1,600 rpm

    Transmission: Six-speed automatic

    Fuel consumption (city/highway L/100km): 9.6/6.7

    Base MSRP: $24,195

    Sports/Performance (under $50,000): Volkswagen Golf R

    Also built on the MQB platform, this all-wheel drive Golf is the most powerful model ever released in North America, capable of reaching 0-100 km/h in less than five seconds.

    Engine: 2.0-litre TSI four cylinder

    Horsepower: 292 @ 5,500 rpm

    Torque (lb-ft): 280 @ 1,800 rpm

    Transmission: Six-speed manual

    Fuel consumption (city/highway L/100km): 10.9/7.7

    Base MSRP: $39,995

    Sports/Performance (over $50,000): Mercedes-AMG C63 S

    Sharing similar numbers with bigger brother below, the specs for the monstrous C63 S speak for themselves: 4.0-liter displacement, 503 horsepower, 516 lb-ft of torque.

    Engine: 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8

    Horsepower: 503 @ 5,500 rpm

    Torque (lb-ft): 516 @ 1,750 rpm

    Transmission: Seven-speed automatic

    Fuel consumption (city/highway L/100km): 13.4/9.6

    Base MSRP: $83,700

    Prestige/Performance (over $75,000): Mercedes-AMG GT S Coupe

    The engine - capable of helping the GT S Coupe reach a top speed of 311 km/h - is hand-built and is the world’s first to feature two turbos mounted inside the motor’s V configuration, rather than outside the cylinder banks.

    Engine: 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8

    Horsepower: 503 @ 6,250 rpm

    Torque (lb-ft): 479 @ 1,750 rpm

    Transmission: Seven-speed automatic

    Fuel consumption (city/highway L/100km): 14.5/10.8

    Base MSRP: $149,005

    SUV/CUV under $35,000: Mazda CX-3

    The Mazda CX-3 has quickly become a staple of the burgeoning subcompact crossover SUV movement, thanks to its good looks, fuel-efficient powertrain and practical shape.

    Engine: 2.0-litre SKYACTIV-G four cylinder

    Horsepower: 146 @ 6,00 rpm

    Torque (lb-ft): 146 @ 2,800 rpm

    Transmission: Six-speed automatic

    Fuel consumption (city/highway L/100km): 8.8/7.3

    Base MSRP: $20,695

    SUV/CUV $35,000 to $60,000: Kia Sorento

    Highlights of the redesigned Sorento include styling inspired by the Kia Cross GT concept, a longer wheelbase, and increased towing capacity.

    Engine: 3.3-litre V6

    Horsepower: 290 @ 6,400 rpm

    Torque (lb-ft): 252 @ 5,300 rpm

    Transmission: six-speed automatic

    Fuel consumption (city/highway L/100km): 13.4/9.4

    Base MSRP: $27,495


    SUV/CUV over $60,000: Volvo XC90

    Volvo’s mid-size luxury CUV is a preview of what the future of the company’s vehicles will look like, equipped with a new logo, “Thor’s Hammer” DRLs and an interior tablet-like touchscreen console that replaces a traditional dashboard.

    Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged/supercharged four cylinder

    Horsepower: 316 @ 5,700 rpm

    Torque (lb-ft): 295 @ 2,200 rpm

    Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

    Fuel consumption (city/highway L/100km): 11.5/9.5

    Base MSRP: $66,800

    Pickup: Chevrolet Silverado

    Sandor Piszar, Chevrolet truck marketing director, sums up the new Silverado by saying: “New muscular front end designs, sculpted hoods and signature LED lighting accents reflect Silverado’s strength and dependability.”

    Engine: 5.3-litre V8

    Horsepower: 355 @ 5,600 rpm

    Torque (lb-ft): 383 @ 4,100 rpm

    Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

    Fuel consumption (city/highway L/100km): 15.0/10.7

    Base MSRP: $54,420

     

    Photo Courtesy: Benjamin Yong

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