At a press conference at the Toronto Congress Centre on Tuesday, the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) revealed the winners of nine “Best New” category winners on the road to the naming of the Canadian Car and Utility Vehicle of the Year.
As program directors, including me, received the sealed envelopes from Jeff Palmer of the accounting firm KPMG, we learned that the nine awards had been split between seven manufacturers.
Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen were the big winners, scoring wins in two categories each, with Chevrolet, Honda, Kia, Mazda and Volvo finishing first in the rest of the categories.
While the entire industry eagerly anticipates learning what vehicles will be named the Car/Utility vehicle of the year, these category wins may be even more important for the shopping public.
These awards include vehicles from the same market segment that have been tested back-to-back against their direct competition, ultimately making these awards directly relevant to a consumer who is shopping for a vehicle from a specific category.
The category winners are:
Small Car: Honda Civic
Family Car: Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen 1.8 TSI
SPORTS/ PERFORMANCE under $50K: Volkswagen Golf R
SPORTS/ PERFORMANCE over $50K: Mercedes-AMG C 63 S
PRESTIGE/ PERFORMANCE: Mercedes-AMG GT S Coupe
PICKUP: Chevrolet Silverado
SUV/ CUV under $35K: Mazda CX-3
SUV/ CUV $35K – $60K: Kia Sorento
SUV/ CUV over $60K: Volvo XC90
The Canadian Car and Utility Vehicle of the Year will be announced in February to open the Canadian International Autoshow in Toronto.
Rally of the Tall Pines wraps up
Canadian Rally Championship
At 9 a.m. Saturday — today — in Bancroft, 28 competitors in the Canadian and Ontario rally championships will head out onto the roads surrounding the town to begin the final event of the season.
The field consists of a broad spectrum of rally cars that range from a pair of 1988 Volkswagen Golfs right up to the fire-breathing Subraru Canada Rally Team WRX STI of perennial champion Antoine L’Estage and his co-driver, Alan Ockwell.
The duo have actually already clinched the Canadian Championship. They did it with a win at the Rocky Mountain Rally in Invermere, B.C., on Halloween weekend. The pair dominated that event, despite having mechanical problems on the first stage, which were repaired at the first service point.
This is L’Estage’s eighth Canadian Driver’s Championship and Ockwell’s fourth win of the Co-Driver’s Championship.
Saturday’s marks — exactly — 15 years since the start of Ockwell’s career as a navigator and co-driver and marks the 100th rally for the Etobicoke resident.
Tall Pines is the best opportunity for motorsport fans who are curious about rally to come out and experience the sport. Tall Pines is only a couple of hours from Toronto and the competitive stages run until 10 p.m., so you may still have time to make the trek for the day.
Get directions and the full schedule at www.tallpinesrally.com
Europeans love their wagons
and, frankly, so should we
As excited as I was that my choice of the Volkswagen Golf Sportwagon as best new small car over $21,000 in last week’s special Wheels section was validated when the car was also named Best New Family Car by AJAC journalists, I was more excited by a short note from a Wheels reader.
Clive Richards said of the Sportwagon: “I have one — and love wagons. Was just in Europe and noticed that every manufacturer had a wagon, so many on the highways.”
Richards went on to report that these wagons are very popular with police forces, as he spotted many in use as police cars in Italy, Switzerland and Germany.
In fact, the tour bus he was on was stopped and the driver given a breathalyzer — something that apparently is random but routine.
Perhaps it’s time for Canadian consumers to start considering smaller, European-style wagons instead of the SUVs and crossovers that our market is obsessed with.
Hathaway named most popular
of NASCAR Canada drivers
This week, NASCAR unveiled the names of the 2015 Most Popular Driver Awards for their regional touring series, including Jason Hathaway, who won the title for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series.
The award recipients are chosen based on the results of fan voting, with more than 34,000 votes being cast this year. Hathway edged out Alex Tagliani by 104 votes, making it the second year in a row that Tag has been the runner-up.
jokes about starting own church
But is he really joking? A year ago, Hinchcliffe became a minister in order to oversee fellow Indyar racer Charlie Kimball’s wedding. In a tweet on Tuesday, the Mayor (and Minister) of Hinchtown said: “Just found out as an ordained minister I can legally start a church! This. Must. Happen. Racing is religion. Taking suggestions for names.”
This is a church that I could get behind.
Freelance writer Gary Grant is a regular contributor to Toronto Star Wheels. To reach him, email [email protected] and put his name in the subject line.