The Porsche Panamera is the 2018 South African Car of the Year. Picture: MARK SMYTH
The Porsche Panamera is the 2018 South African Car of the Year. Picture: MARK SMYTH

The Porsche Panamera has claimed overall victory in the 2018 WesBank South African Car of the Year awards, which took place at the Gallagher Estate convention centre in Johannesburg.

The winner was one of 10 vehicles vying for the coveted title.

The finalists for the prestigious competition run by the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists included the Alfa Romeo Giulia, Audi Q5, BMW 5 Series, Kia Picanto, Land Rover Discovery, Peugeot 3008, Suzuki Ignis, Toyota C-HR and Volvo S90.

Following a two-day rigorous testing programme to put the aforementioned vehicles through their paces, the Panamera emerged the winner of the coveted competition, seeing the German brand clinching the title for the fourth time — with Boxster, Cayman and Macan previously taking the title.

This year’s competition was one of the most heavily contested yet as a clear winner was not obvious from the onset, which required the competition’s 26 jury members to judiciously apply their minds. Once the scores had been tallied and the results vetted by a team of independent auditors, the Panamera emerged the winner, even if by a whisker of only 3.3% to the second place runner-up, the Volvo S90. The Alfa Romeo Giulia, interestingly, came in third, trailing by 1.18%, while the impressive Suzuki Ignis was not that far off in fourth with a 0.4% difference. In fact, the top four cars were separated by only 5% collectively, which once again demonstrates the closeness of this year’s competition.

While many might deem the Porsche Panamera as something exotic and unattainable, one need only look what else is available on its segment for similar money.

The competition seeks to award excellence to the best car in its segment and the Panamera managed this by offering a vehicle that is well put together, is comfortable yet rewarding to drive and, in the grand scheme of things, is relatively accessible. The base price of R1.4m is comparable to other rivals like the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class and costs even less than the Maserati Quattroporte. In addition the model will more than likely retain its value better than the aforementioned competitors.

Boasting an all-new platform and engines, the Panamera has mostly bespoke components that it will now share with the new Cayenne due in SA in the middle of 2018. Among a slew of new technology fitted to the model, it is also one of the first passenger cars to feature Michelin tyres with foam as part of the tyre construction, which is said to considerably reduce road noise. In addition, the model is also one of the most versatile models in the segment thanks to the hatchback-like boot, which has a capacity of 495l (1,304l with the rear seats folded). Then there is the sumptuous interior, which is characterised by a 12.3-inch infotainment screen that controls all manner of items, including vents, driver modes and the obligatory navigation and sound system settings.

While its was a rather closely contested competition this year, the points have firmly placed the Porsche Panamera on the highest step of the podium in the competition and, when all is said and done, it is a well-deserved win, even if only by a whisker.

2018 WESBANK SA CAR OF THE YEAR FINALISTS

Alfa Romeo Giulia

Audi Q5

BMW 5 Series

Kia Picanto

Land Rover Discovery

Peugeot 3008

Porsche Panamera

Suzuki Ignis

Toyota C-HR

Volvo S90