South Africa’s most-loved automotive platform announced the 13 category winners of the 2023/24 Consumer Awards, sponsored by Absa (#CarsAwards), as well as the recipient of the prestigious Brand of the Year title, in Sandton City on 29 February 2024.

The fourteen 2023/24 #CarsAwards trophy recipients:
Entry-level Hatch: Suzuki Swift 1.2 GLX
Runners up: Suzuki Celerio 1.0 GL, Renault Kiger 1.0 Zen

Budget Hatch: Suzuki Baleno 1.5 GLX
Runners up: Toyota Starlet 1.5 XR, Renault Clio 1.0 Turbo Zen

Compact Hatch: Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI 85kW R-Line
Runners up: Honda Fit 1.5 Elegance, Opel Corsa 1.2T Elegance

Entry-level Crossover: Suzuki Grand Vitara 1.5 GLX
Runners up: Haval Jolion 1.5T Premium Auto, Chery Tiggo 4 Pro 1.5 Elite Auto

Compact Family Car: Toyota Corolla Cross 1.8 XR
Runners up: Haval Jolion S Super Luxury, Renault Duster 1.5dCi Intens

Family Car: Kia Sportage 1.6CRDi EX
Runners up: Haval H6 1.5T HEV Ultra Luxury, Chery Tiggo 8 Pro Max 2.0TGDi 390 Executive

Premium Crossover: BMW X1 sDrive18d M Sport
Runners up: Volvo XC40 B4 Ultimate Dark, Audi Q3 Sportback 40TFSI quattro S Line

Executive SUV: Mercedes-Benz GLC220d 4Matic Avantgarde
Runners up: BMW X3 xDrive20d M Sport, Lexus NX 350h F Sport

Premium SUV: BMW iX xDrive40
Runners up: BMW X5 xDrive30d M Sport, Land Rover Defender 110 D250 SE County

Adventure SUV: Ford Everest 3.0 V6 Wildtrak
Runners up: Toyota Fortuner 2.8GD-6 4x4 VX, Isuzu MU-X 3.0TD Onyx 4x4

Performance Car: Toyota GR Yaris Rally
Runners up: Toyota GR Corolla Circuit, Honda Civic Type R

Leisure Double Cab: Ford Ranger 3.0 V6 EcoBoost Raptor 4WD
Runners up: Ford Ranger 3.0 V6 Wildtrak 4WD, VW Amarok 3.0 TDI V6 Aventura 4Motion

Electric Vehicle: BMW iX1 xDrive30 M Sport
Runners up: Volvo XC40 Twin Motor Ultimate, GWM Ora 03 Super Lux

Brand of the Year: Toyota/Lexus
Runners up: Suzuki, BMW/Mini

Highlights of the 2023/24 Consumer Awards, sponsored by Absa
BMW and Suzuki took the most category wins (3 apiece) in the 2023/24 #CarsAwards. BMW has the second most category wins in #CarsAwards history (12), followed by Toyota (11) and Suzuki (10), but Volkswagen (20) comfortably leads the #CarsAwards category trophies tally.

By winning the Adventure SUV and Leisure Double Cab categories, Ford returned to the #CarsAwards winners list for the first time since 2016/17. While Ford did have a strong chance of clinching the Leisure Double Cab trophy (with 2 out of the 3 finalists in the category), which it did – with the Ranger 3.0 V6 EcoBoost Raptor 4WD, the Everest 3.0 V6 Wildtrak famously ended the Toyota Fortuner's run of four consecutive category wins that began in 2017/18.

BMW, the first manufacturer to win #CarsAwards trophies with a fully-electric vehicle – with the i3 model in the inaugural 2015/16 programme – duly won the new Electric Vehicle (EV) category in the 2023/24 iteration with the iX1 xDrive30 M Sport.

In another notable achievement for BMW, one of the German marque’s EV models defeated a pair of internal combustion engined (ICE) rivals at the very first attempt when the iX xDrive40 took the spoils in the Premium SUV category ahead of its X5 sibling and Land Rover Defender.

Suzuki won the Budget category for the fifth time out of seven iterations of the #CarsAwards programme. The Baleno 1.5 GLX avenged its predecessor’s 2020/21 defeat to the Toyota Starlet 1.4 XR, while a Swift derivative (this time, the 1.2 GLX) won the Entry-level Hatch trophy for a second consecutive time. A Swift variant has won a #CarsAwards category four times.

Volkswagen won the Compact Hatch category of the #CarsAwards for the fourth consecutive time with a 1.0-litre turbopetrol Polo derivative (the 1.0 TSI 85kW R-Line).

Kia took its first win in the history of the programme courtesy of the Sportage 1.6CRDi EX in the Family Car category. Kia is the first Korean brand to win a #CarsAwards trophy.

The Sportage was also the finalist vehicle with the highest individual score (81.9%). The narrowest margin of victory (0.1%) was in the Premium SUV category and the widest (6.4%) in Entry-Level Hatch. Meanwhile, Executive SUV had the smallest gap between the first and third places (1.2% – the category was fiercely contested) and Entry Level Hatch the biggest (18%).

By winning the Brand of the Year consecutively, Toyota now leads the total #CarsAwards Brand of the Year wins tally with 4 trophies, followed by Suzuki (2) and Volkswagen (1).

About the 2023/24 Consumer Awards, sponsored by Absa
The winners of the 7th iteration of the Consumer Awards – now sponsored by Absa and endorsed by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) – were revealed at a black-tie gala. The glamorous event was attended by hundreds of guests and hosted by comedian Nik Rabinowitz and radio personality (and former #CarsAwards guest judge) Khutso Theledi. It also featured entertainment by the celebrated Ndlovu Youth Choir.

The Consumer Awards (now widely known as the #CarsAwards) was established in 2015 to be South Africa’s definitive automotive awards programme – it plays a pivotal role in the company’s mission to help consumers make the best-informed purchasing decisions. Managing Director Amasi Mwela announced the return of the #CarsAwards programme, which was paused in 2021, last year. As before, vehicles would be judged against their peers in distinct categories, of which each had its own requirements. What’s more, 50% of the final scores would be based on brand-specific data incorporating direct feedback from South African car owners.

“The #CarsAwards underlines our commitment to helping our users understand the best way to spend their hard-earned Rands when purchasing new vehicles,” says Mwela. “As new-car prices escalate, it emphasises the need to make educated and informed buying decisions.”

The rejuvenated seventh #CarsAwards has turned out to be the most elaborate iteration of the programme. Not only did it attract sponsorship from leading bank Absa (a relationship that will take #CarsAwards into the future) – it attained significant gravitas by being officially endorsed by the Naamsa, which has represented, and advanced the cause of, the local motor industry for approximately 89 years.

“The Consumer Awards, sponsored by Absa and galvanised by the endorsement from Naamsa, allows to take a leadership position in our industry,” Mwela adds.

“Partnering with the Consumer Awards strongly resonates with our objective of endorsing innovative initiatives that bridge the gap between consumers, trusted dealers and manufacturers,” says Charl Potgieter, Managing Executive of Absa Vehicle and Asset Finance.

“This highly respected awards programme is not just about celebrating the automotive industry’s finest, it’s about strengthening the dynamic space in which the industry operates,” he adds.

“We continue to work very closely with all our partners to take the South African automotive industry to greater heights,” says Naamsa Chief Executive Officer Mikel Mabasa.

“Business leaders and organisations involved in the motor industry can play a progressive role in turning the negative sentiment in the automotive market into positivity. (Naamsa believes that) the #CarsAwards represents a number of things that should be going right in the country.

“Naamsa is now associating itself with products, brands and partners that can help to bring this ‘mood’ back up because that's what South Africa needs. South Africans are exhausted from hearing negativity and I think can play a very important role in lifting that mood.”

The #CarsAwards’ multi-faceted judging process
The Consumer Awards, sponsored by Absa utilises a unique scoring system that involves extensive testing by a panel of 20 judges, inputs from vehicle owners (based on their product quality-, reliability- and after-sales experiences of vehicles serviced through franchised outlets and less than four years old), as well as extra data provided by Lightstone Consumer.’s extended editorial team chose the 39 finalist vehicles, which included model derivatives from no fewer than 18 brands, out of a list of 65 semi-finalists. To be eligible for the #CarsAwards, vehicles had to be available on the new-vehicle market on 1 September 2023.

The combined judging panel (including 14 respected guest judges from various fields of expertise) compiled the finalist vehicles’ scores after they evaluated the cars back-to-back during an intensive two-day test at the Gerotek testing facility on 2 and 3 November 2023.

However, the judges’ scores for the 39 finalists only counted 50% of the final standings, The other 50% was based on rankings that the respective vehicle brands represented by the finalists achieved in the Ownership Satisfaction Survey.

The judges for the 2023/24 Consumer Awards, sponsored by Absa were:
Ashley Oldfield, David Taylor, Gero Lilleike and Ciro De Siena (all of, Jacob Moshokoa (EWN &, Wendy Knowler (Consumer Specialist – 702/Cape Talk/Sunday Times), Brenwin Naidu (Sowetan, Sunday Times), Muzi Sambo (Independent – YouTube), MrHowMuch (Independent – Youtube/Social), Rebaneilwe Semakane (Social, Voice of Wits), Juliet McGuire (Independent – Cape Talk), Nafisa Akabor (Tech Expert), Phuti Mpyane (Business Day), Lerato Matebese (Top Gear), Kumbi Mtshakazi (Kumbi-M on Cars), Mpho Mahlangu (Independent – Social), Tshidi Malebana (Independent – Social), Sibonelo Myeni (uKhozi FM, iMoto), Brendon Staniforth (Maroelamedia) and Clement Manyathela (702).

How the 2023/24 #CarsAwards Brand of the Year title was decided
As opposed to the category winners, the recipient of the #CarsAwards Brand of the Year title is determined solely by market data and the Ownership Satisfaction Survey’s findings (brands’ sales and after-sales service ratings are particularly impactful, as are the percentages of purchase-price value the brands’ finalists retained after three years of ownership).

Although Toyota failed to win a category during the first two iterations of the #CarsAwards, the Prospecton-based manufacturer won the programme’s first Brand of the Year title in 2015/16 and 2018/19. Then, having finished well behind Volkswagen in 2019/20, South Africa’s top-selling new-vehicle brand rallied back to win the Brand of the Year title in 2020/21 and this year – 2023/24. The trophy was presented by Naamsa Chief Executive Officer Mikel Mabasa.

Toyota and its Lexus premium sub-brand achieved a score of 88.3%, which was a significant 9.2% ahead of the 2016/17 and 2017/18 Brand of the Year winner Suzuki, which finished in second place with 79.1%. BMW and its sister brand Mini finished third with 78.2%.

“The Brand of the Year trophy is the ultimate accolade in the local automotive industry and represents validation from the people who matter most: car owners,” says Consumer Experience Manager Hannes Oosthuizen, who has led the #CarsAwards project since 2015.

“By providing consistently superior after-sales support through the most extensive dealer network in the country, Toyota has put South African consumers first and – based on the feedback by thousands of vehicle owners – they evidently appreciate that,” he adds. Consumer Awards Roadshow at Sandton City Mall
The 2023/24 Consumer Awards, sponsored by Absa incorporates an all-new consumer experience element. Having hosted the inaugural Awards Roadshow at the Mall of Africa late in 2023, where consumers could view and experience all 39 of the finalist vehicles, as well as interact with car salespeople and various #CarsAwards judges, and Absa will present another, more sophisticated roadshow at Sandton City Mall from 1 to 3 March 2024.

After the #CarsAwards gala, and Absa will take over the Sandton City Mall for three days. The motoring public will again be welcome to inspect, experience and possibly test drive the 39 finalist vehicles (13 #CarsAwards winners and 26 runners up), engage with advisers and dealers’ sales representatives, plus stand chances to win cool prizes. However, Absa will also host a lounge and pop-up bank so that buyers can purchase cars at the mall.

#CarsAwards judges MrHowMuch, Muzi Sambo, Rebaneilwe Semakane, Kumbi Mtshakazi, Juliet Maguire, Jacob Moshokoa and Ciro De Siena will be in attendance to interact with the public and, during the roadshow, Absa will award a grand prize of R500 000 to an eligible mall visitor – the winner will be able to spend that sum on buying a new or used car (Ts & Cs apply).

Ciro De Siena will help the winner make their decision and accompany them to one of’s dealer partners, where they will be able to use the R500 000 to purchase the vehicle of their choice. Thereafter, the lucky winner will drive home in their new purchase!
iX Online Motoring