Wheels Car of the Year

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Wheels is a monthly Australian automotive magazine that has been published continuously since 1953. Since 1963, it has awarded the title of Car of the Year (also commonly referred to as "COTY") to new cars 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. 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 original intention of COTY was to promote excellence in the Australian car-manufacturing industry, dominated 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 finally 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.

For 1963, the French Renault 8—which was built in many countries including Australia—became the inaugural COTY winner.

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".[1]

The first imported car to win the award was the Japanese Honda Accord for 1977. As listed below, 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.[2]

COTY winners[edit]

To date, in chronological order, the award winners (by name including series where available) have been the following:[3]

  1. ^ First manufacturer to win consecutively
  2. ^ First coupé winner
  3. ^ First model-specific award (V8 engined range only)
  4. ^ First fully imported winner
  5. ^ First luxury winner
  6. ^ a b c Awards shared between badge engineered models
  7. ^ First multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) winner
  8. ^ First convertible winner
  9. ^ Award shared between different types of vehicles
  10. ^ First rotary engined winner
  11. ^ First sport utility vehicle (SUV) winner
  12. ^ Last Australian-made vehicle to win COTY
  13. ^ First hybrid vehicle winner
Top 3 most awarded cars
5 Holden Commodore
3 Ford Falcon, Mazda MX-5, Volkswagen Golf
2 Chrysler Valiant, Honda Accord, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Mitsubishi Magna
Number of awards by manufacturer
9 Holden: Commodore (5), Barina (1), Camira (1), Gemini (1), Monaro (1)
8 n/a
7 Mazda: MX-5 (3), 626 (2), 323 (1), RX-8 (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)
2 Chrysler: Valiant (2); Renault: 8 (1), 12 (1)
1 BMW: i3; Lexus: LS 400; Leyland: P76; Morris Motors: 1100; Nissan: Pulsar; Toyota: 86

Includes award won by the S-Class predecessor—the Mercedes-Benz 380 SE (W126).


  1. ^ "My tilt at the wheel". Wheels. May 1993. p. 78. 
  2. ^ "The road to 2016 Wheels car of the Year". 20 November 2015. Retrieved 1 January 2016. 
  3. ^ "The road to COTY". Wheels. 30 November 2007. Archived from the original on 15 May 2009.