Wheels Car of the Year
Wheels Car of the Year (commonly abbreviated to COTY) is an annual automotive award presented by Wheels magazine. It is considered Australia's most prestigious automotive award, which the publisher contends, is the world's oldest continuous motoring award of its kind. The award is given to the best newly released vehicle each year.
The original intention of COTY was to promote excellence in the Australian car manufacturing industry, dominated at the time by Ford, Holden, Chrysler, Datsun and Toyota. With the fuel crisis in the 1970s, European makers also based in Australia, such as Renault and Volkswagen, began closing their local assembly plants. With a shrinking local manufacturing base and reliability and quality issues that affected Australian-made cars, Wheels changed the basis of the award to include imported cars. At first, this was condemned by the local industry, unions and media, however, the approach permitted local products to be judged on a global basis. This, in turn, is claimed to have contributed towards a more competitive local industry and sees each winner heavily advertised as a COTY winner.
The award is given on an annual basis, except in 1972, 1979 and 1986 when, under the stewardship of the then-editor Peter Robinson, no newly released car in those years was considered worthy of the award.
The withholding of the award in 1972 and 1979 twice coincided with the release of a new Ford Falcon (the XA and XD series). On the second occasion, as the Falcon (XD) was a sales success and leading candidate for the 1980 COTY award, the then deputy manager of Ford Australia, Edsel Ford II, took out a 1-page advertisement in Wheels magazine, depicting the Falcon and other contenders as lemons and stating "There are times when being a lemon is not a bitter experience at all". This was both in answer to the award's withdrawal against the Falcon and Wheels' cover for March 1980, which was a four-wheeled lemon under the title "NO CAR OF THE YEAR".
The first imported car to win the award was the Japanese Honda Accord for 1977. In 1982, the award was shared for the first time between badge engineered cars and, in 1991, between completely different types of cars. Over the years, the COTY criteria has been further refined and, for 2004, it was amended to allow any Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) to be eligible for the first time, permitting the Australian-made Ford Territory to take the title. For 2011, the Honda CR-Z instead became the first hybrid to win the award.
Starting from 2015, the temporal basis of how the award is branded has been changed such that, the award now carries the year of when the winner was announced, instead of the preceding year when testing took place. Consequently, what would have been the 2015 COTY winner is instead be the winner for 2016 and so forth.
To date, in chronological order, the award winners (by name including series where available) have been the following:
- 1963 Renault 8
- 1964 Morris 1100
- 1965 Ford XP Falcon
- 1966 Ford XR Falcon[a]
- 1967 Chrysler VE Valiant
- 1968 Holden HK Monaro[b]
- 1969 Holden LC Torana
- 1970 Renault 12
- 1971 Chrysler VH Valiant Charger
- 1972 – award withheld
- 1973 Leyland P76 V8[c]
- 1974 Volkswagen Passat (B1)
- 1975 Holden TX Gemini
- 1976 Volkswagen Golf Mk1
- 1977 Honda Accord[d]
- 1978 Holden VB Commodore
- 1979 – award withheld
- 1980 Mazda 323 (BD)
- 1981 Mercedes-Benz 380 SE (W126)[e]
- 1982 Holden JB Camira
- 1983 Mazda 626 (GC) and Ford AR Telstar[f]
- 1984 Mitsubishi Nimbus[g]
- 1985 Mitsubishi TM Magna
- 1986 – award withheld
- 1987 Honda Prelude
- 1988 Holden VN Commodore
- 1989 Mazda MX-5 (NA)[h]
- 1990 Lexus LS 400 (XF10)
- 1991 Honda NSX and Nissan Pulsar (N14)[i]
- 1992 Mazda 626 (GE) and Ford AX Telstar[f]
- 1993 Holden VR Commodore
- 1994 Subaru Liberty
- 1995 Honda Odyssey
- 1996 Mitsubishi TE Magna/KE Verada
- 1997 Holden VT Commodore
- 1998 Subaru Liberty
- 1999 Mercedes-Benz S-Class (W220)
- 2000 Subaru Impreza
- 2001 Holden XC Barina
- 2002 Ford BA Falcon
- 2003 Mazda RX-8[j]
- 2004 Ford SX Territory[k]
- 2005 Mazda MX-5 (NC)
- 2006 Holden VE Calais[l]
- 2007 Mercedes-Benz C-Class (W204)
- 2008 Honda Accord Euro
- 2009 Volkswagen Golf Mk6
- 2010 Volkswagen Polo Mk5
- 2011 Honda CR-Z[m]
- 2012 Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ[f]
- 2013 Volkswagen Golf Mk7
- 2014 BMW i3
- 2015 – temporal basis for award changed
- 2016 Mazda MX-5 (ND)
- 2017 Mazda CX-9
- First manufacturer to win consecutively
- First coupé winner
- First model-specific award (V8 engined range only)
- First fully imported winner
- First luxury winner
- Awards shared between badge engineered models
- First multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) winner
- First convertible winner
- Award shared between different types of vehicles
- First rotary engined winner
- First sport utility vehicle (SUV) winner
- Last Australian-made vehicle to win COTY
- First hybrid vehicle winner
Most awarded vehicles
|3||Ford Falcon, Mazda MX-5, Volkswagen Golf|
|2||Chrysler Valiant, Honda Accord, Mercedes-Benz S-Class†, Mitsubishi Magna|
Multiple awards by manufacturer
|9||Holden||Commodore (5), Barina (1), Camira (1), Gemini (1), Monaro (1)|
|7||Mazda||MX-5 (3), 626 (2), 323 (1), RX-8 (1), CX-9 (1)|
|6||Ford||Falcon (3), Telstar (2), Territory (1)|
|Honda||Accord (2), CR-Z (1), NSX (1), Prelude (1), Odyssey (1)|
|5||Volkswagen||Golf (3), Passat (1), Polo (1)|
|4||Subaru||Liberty (2), BRZ (1), Impreza (1)|
|3||Mercedes-Benz||S-Class† (2), C-Class (1)|
|Mitsubishi||Magna (2), Nimbus (1)|
|Renault||8 (1), 12 (1)|
† Includes award won by the S-Class predecessor—the Mercedes-Benz 380 SE (W126).
- "Car of the Year". Wheels. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
- "C-Class is 2007 Wheels Car of the Year". Car Advice. 22 January 2008. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
- "Honda's CR-Z wins Wheels Car of the Year". AAP. News Corp Australia. 18 January 2012. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
- Kenwright, Joe (17 May 2013). "Renault R8: The First Wheels Car of the Year". Shannons. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
- "My tilt at the wheel". Wheels. May 1993. p. 78.
- "The road to 2016 Wheels car of the Year". 20 November 2015. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
- "The road to COTY". Wheels. 30 November 2007. Archived from the original on 15 May 2009.