In most motoring awards, typically chosen by juries of “petrolheads”, cars are rarely judged on the basis of advanced technology. From the trim to the torque of a vehicle, it is usually all about appearances and experiences.

And by experiences, I mean that it used to be all about the sense of power under the seat. This year’s 38th annual edition of the South African Car of the Year (COTY) awards, announced on Wednesday night, suggested that times are changing. The big winner was BMW, taking the overall prize for its 7 Series, and taking the family car category with the BMW X1...

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