Car of the Year

The Ford Ranger Wins The 2023 South African Car Of The Year

For the first time in the 37-year history of the South African Car of the Year (COTY) competition, a leisure double cab 4×4 bakkie was crowned South Africa’s Car of the Year for 2023: The Ford Ranger.


  • The overall champion and category winners were revealed as the shining stars among an impressive field of 21 finalists.
  • Since its inception in 1986, the South African Car of the Year (COTY) competition is hosted by the South African Guild of Mobility Journalists (SAGMJ).
  • It has maintained its unrivalled reputation as the country’s most respected and coveted motoring event.
  • Visit for more stories.


Mabuyane Mabuza, Chairperson of the 2023 COTY Competition, said that this remarkable achievement is a testament to the automotive industry’s commitment to producing high-quality double cabs that offer unrivalled performance while seamlessly blending comfort, safety, and cutting-edge technology.

Over the past decade, the popularity of SUVs and Double Cabs has skyrocketed at the expense of sedans. Double cab bakkies have become a common choice for everyday commuting, family adventures and various work applications, providing a popular solution for South Africans’ mobility demands.

// Chairperson of the 2023 COTY Competition, Mabuyane Mabuza


This year’s COTY competition was particularly exciting, with 21 finalists carefully selected from an impressive pool of 55 qualifying vehicles representing various fiercely contested categories.


The competition featured Budget, Compact, Compact Family, Midsize, Premium, Adventure SUV, 4×4 Double Cab, Luxury, Performance, and New Energy categories. However, the Budget category had no contenders on this year’s finalist list. Although the entrant in the Compact category was commendable, it did not meet the required percentage to secure a category win.

The Ford Ranger’s triumph represents a milestone for the industry, setting a new benchmark and symbolising a noteworthy accomplishment for one of South Africa’s primary export products. Proudly representing our nation across global markets, this victory showcases the ingenuity and craftsmanship of South African automotive manufacturers.

// Chairperson of the 2023 COTY Competition, Mabuyane Mabuza


The Ford Ranger’s triumph marks a historic moment as no other bakkie has ever managed to beat all finalists to the top spot since the competition began in 1986. Fortuitously, this award coincides with Ford South Africa’s 100th anniversary locally, during which time it has established itself as an automotive leader that has shaped and modernised the local automotive landscape.

With its enduring legacy which began in 1986, the South African Car of the Year competition has become a highly anticipated event in the automotive industry and continues to be an influential platform for promoting automotive excellence. We are incredibly proud to witness the Next-Gen Ranger make history by clinching the overall victory in this year’s Car of the Year competition. This accomplishment underscores Ford’s commitment to delivering best-in-class vehicles that not only meet but exceed the needs and expectations of our valued customers.

// General Manager for Marketing at Ford South Africa, Doreen Mashinini


The category winners for this year’s South African Car of the Year (COTY) competition are:

Car of the Year
Compact Family Category – BAIC Beijing X55. Image: BAIC
Car of the Year
Midsize Category – KIA Sportage. Image: KIA
Car of the Year
Premium Category – KIA Sorento. Image: KIA
Car of the Year
Adventure SUV Category – Ford Everest. Image: Ford
Car of the Year
Double Cab 4×4 Category – Ford Ranger. Image: Ford
Car of the Year
Luxury Category – Mercedes Benz S-Class. Image: Mercedes Benz
Car of the Year
Performance Category – Audi RS 3. Image: Audi
Car of the Year
New-Energy Category – Volvo XC 40 P8 Recharge. Image: Volvo

Old Mutual Insure, as the COTY sponsor, one of the most established insurers in South Africa, also applauded the winners.

The eight category winners highlight the industry’s fierce rivalry and manufacturers’ commitment to exceptional products across all price ranges, especially in a new world that has seen the automotive market change drastically post-COVID-19.

// Managing Director of Old Mutual Insure, Garth Napier


While acknowledging the intense competition, Mabuyane highlighted the remarkable distinction of the category winners, who emerged from an impressive selection of 55 entries in the 2023 COTY competition.


The Mercedes Benz S-Class also won the coveted COTY Jurors Excellence Award, which recognises the unparalleled driving experience of an extraordinary vehicle and represents the jurors’ raw scores, acknowledging exceptional vehicle quality and craftsmanship.


The absence of any finalists in the Budget category this year can be attributed to the product lifecycle timing of key competitors; however, the category remains an important entry point into the market. Mabuyane urges the automotive industry to persist in its innovation efforts, aiming to create vehicles that cater to the diverse requirements of the South African public.


To this end, the competition also saw the first Chinese winner. The BAIC Beijing X55 won the hotly contested Compact Family category, a sign that automotive brands from China are taking the world by storm, as it is also evident on South African roads.


The Chery Tiggo 8 Pro won the ‘Motor Enthusiasts Choice’, voted for by the public via a social media campaign driven by Old Mutual Insure. This category was added three years ago to reflect how integral the public has become to the COTY scoring and voting process.


For those interested in the technical nature of the COTY competition, Mabuyane said that the overall and category winners’ evaluations included scoring criteria like design, technology, engineering, power-train, handling, ingenuity and safety, but that the process is much more than just juror scoring.

Once the expert panel concluded scoring, the automated scoring factors that cover sales performance, segment share and value for money are applied. COTY competition partner, Lightstone Auto, provides the automated scoring information, including data-driven insights, online market intelligence and new vehicle sales data.

// Chairperson of the 2023 COTY Competition, Mabuyane Mabuza


The diverse group of jurors for this year’s competition comprises esteemed South African Guild of Mobility Journalists (SAGMJ) members, with their peers choosing potential and trainee jurors based on specific requirements. Trainees undergo a two-year apprenticeship under the guidance of a juror mentor, ensuring a continuous supply of newly trained jurors ready to contribute to the jury team.

The selection and training of jurors for this year’s competition remained as stringent as ever. Our group of 29 jurors and 4 trainee jurors represents all car buyers in the country, ensuring a fair and comprehensive evaluation process.

// Chairperson of the 2023 COTY Competition, Mabuyane Mabuza


Additional honours instituted at the SAGMJ’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in 2021 were the ‘Most Admired OEM’ and the ‘Best PR’ in the industry. The winners of this year’s awards will be announced at the Guild’s AGM later in June. Although these two awards are not officially part of the COTY competition, they are just as prestigious.

We would like to thank all the OEMs participating in the 2023 COTY competition. We also extend our heartfelt appreciation to our sponsors, partners, hardworking jurors, and dedicated Guild members who tirelessly uphold the esteemed reputation of our nation’s premier car competition. It is also an honour to recognise the exceptional jurors who take immense pride in their involvement with COTY.

// Chairperson of the 2023 COTY Competition, Mabuyane Mabuza


Get the best of The Sandton Times in your email inbox.


Advertise on The Sandton Times today!


Head back to The Sandton Times Home Page for more stories.


Picture of Sandton Times Correspondent

Sandton Times Correspondent

Curated content from The Sandton Times newsroom desks.


Related Posts