As you will read in our back-page story, the Motor News team once again participated as jurors in the Wesbank/ SAGMJ Car of the Year competition test days.

Finalists for 2017 come from a wide cross-section of the market. It is a direct representation of South African buying trends and arguably makes the competition one of the most relevant in a while.

That said, though, I was rather perplexed by Mazda SA’s decision to pull its CX-3 finalist only a week before the test days commenced.

The reasons are known to the Motor News team, but arguably the most prominent is that Mazda SA does not subscribe to the Car of the Year eligibility period from September 1 2015 to August 31 2016. Mazda SA "is of the opinion that due to the long time frame, the winning vehicle could be well over two years old and, given the advancement in production engineering, it’s likely that the technology, driving dynamics and safety advances of even the eventual winner may have changed in that time".

There is validity in that statement and we probably need to look into that in future. My gripe, though, is that a great number of manufacturers are — and have been — in a similar boat to Mazda, yet have continued to participate.

We were not able to drive the vehicle during the test days or have the opportunity to make up our minds regarding the CX-3. The Motor News team has not driven the CX-3 since February 2016 and driving the vehicle again on the test days would have helped us to become reacquainted with it.

Mazda’s failure to participate not only robbed the vehicle of its chance in the competition but deprived members of the public who might want to learn about how the product fared in the greater scheme of things.

The competition helps to educate car buyers on what models are the best in their class, which is crucial in making an informed purchasing decision. Personally, I believe the CX-3 has a lot going for it but the South African car-buying public were denied a true insight into how the CX-3 would have stacked up as one of the potential winners in 2017.

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