Super styling has Benz tops in luxury
Veloster's win raised a few eyebrows, but it made its case with looks, sportiness and price
Our coverage of the Canadian Car of the Year competition continues this week with a look at the (four) performance and luxury class categories. In total there were eleven categories and coverage of the final three (utility vehicle categories) switches to the Wednesday Driving section next week.
Every vehicle entered in this competition is driven back-to-back against its competitors, on the same roads, on the same day and under the same conditions to ensure objective evaluations. The testing is done on both "real world" public roads and on a specially prepared highspeed evaluation track or an off-road course where applicable.
The Automobile Journalist Association of Canada (AJAC) assembled over seventy experienced automotive journalists from all over Canada to evaluate of the newest automobiles (54 entries) on the market. Performance test results from this oneof-a-kind evaluation event, called TestFest, are also included:
Best New Luxury Car
Winner: Mercedes-Benz C350 4Matic (price as entered: $55,676)
The redesigned C-Class Sedan comes with body styling updates and an enhanced interior. Its 3.5 litre V6 engine offers 302 horsepower and 273 lbs.-ft of torque, yet claims improved fuel efficiency compared to the previous generation.
Judges were smitten by the C's design, the renowned quality of the brand, plus its overall performance and exemplary ride and handling characteristics. The C-Class continues to offer some of the most advanced safety features in this segment with a list that includes standard Attention Assist, Adaptive Highbeam Assist and Adaptive Brake.
The runners-up in this closely contested category were the Chrysler 300S and Acura TL. The Infiniti M35h (which is a hybrid) had the fastest acceleration time to 100 km/hour in this group.
The Lexus CT200h (another hybrid) recorded the shortest stopping distance and was also a clear winner for best fuel economy.
Best New Sports/Performance Car (Under $50K)
Winner: Hyundai Veloster (price as entered: $22,499)
While this win raised a few eyebrows, there's no denying that the new Veloster is a strikingly attractive coupe design and it has a unique third rear door on the passenger side. The lowest priced entry in this category, Veloster offers terrific value for a relatively small investment, plus it provides the latest audio and connective technologies.
Power is provided by an all-new 1.6-litre GDI "Gamma" engine paired with 6-speed manual transmission or Hyundai's first 6-speed EcoShift Dual Clutch (automatic) Transmission. The Veloster offers outstanding fuel economy and was clearly the best in this group.
Runners-up in this category were the Volkswagen Jetta GLI and the Kia Optima SX. The Dodge Charger recorded the fastest acceleration time and it also had the shortest stopping distance.
Best New Sports / Performance (over $50k)
Winner: BMW 1 Series M Coupe (price as entered: $53,600)
The 1 Series M Coupe is the first time that the high-performance M badge has been placed on BMW's smallest car. This beautifully balanced, race-ready little car can also be driven on an everyday basis and gets reasonable fuel economy.
A twin-turbocharged, all-aluminum, 3.0-litre in-line-6 provides up to 335 horsepower and the tachometer red-line starts at 7000 rpm. Its power is also delivered to the rear wheels for a thrilling driving experience.
Runners-up in this category were the Porsche Cayman R and the Mercedes-Benz CLS Class. The Mercedes-Benz CLS was the fastest car and the Porsche Cayman R had both the best fuel economy and the shortest stopping distance of all vehicles at this year's TestFest.
Best New Prestige Car (over $75,000)
Winner: Mercedes-Benz S-class S350 BlueTec 4Matic (price as entered: $128,100)
A perennial benchmark vehicle in the super-luxury sedan segment, The S-class from Mercedes-Benz provides supreme levels of safety and sumptuousness. The Canadian 2012 model year edition now adds the powerful and fuel efficient BlueTEC diesel engine to the model range.
Voting in this category indicates that the AJAC judges were smitten by its smooth, refined and powerful diesel engine, plus the roominess, ride comfort, quietness, safety features and overall quality of the big Mercedes.
The BMW 6 Series Cabriolet recorded the shortest stopping distance and the Jaguar XKR-S was both the fastest and the most expensive car at this year's TestFest event.
More photos, information and voting details are available on the AJAC website.
Bob McHugh is a freelance automotive journalist, writing on behalf of BCAA. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org