A host of new entrants in the budget, light, sub-compact and medium saloon sectors of the South African market could jumble up the look of CAR’s upcoming Top 12 list – or will they?

A host of new entrants in the budget-, light, sub-compact and medium saloon sectors of the South African market could jumble up the look of CAR’s upcoming Top 12 list – or will they?

Every year, CAR’s editorial team names the best vehicles in 12 categories in the February issue of the magazine. The winners are rated on price, package, performance and personality and often – we can reveal – the votes end up equal in certain sections, necessitating a tiebreak vote.

In the best budget car category (for vehicles costing less than R75 000), the ever-reliable Toyota Tazz has ruled the roost in the recent past. But 2004’s list of candidates contains three usurpers to Toyota’s throne – Chevrolet Spark (previously the Daewoo Matiz), Fiat Auto SA’s budget-busting Fiat Palio 1,2 Go! and the plucky Charade CX. The Tazz’s long-time adversary, Volkswagen CitiGolf Chico, recently received a minor facelift and a modern dashboard. Has the evergreen Citi done enough to end the Toyota’s reign?

Competition in the best light car category is much tougher than last year. The 2003-winner Volkswagen Polo (Classic saloon derivatives added this year) and runners-up Renault Clio and Citroën C3 now have to contend with the Korean-sourced Chevrolet Aveo, Honda’s funky Jazz, an expanded Hyundai Getz range, the dramatically-revised Kia Rio and the trendy Smart Coupé.

The Golf IV, the winner of last year’s best sub-compact category, is due to replaced in 2004. To make matters worse for the popular Wolfsburger, the Ford Focus range now has three-, four- and five-door models, the Nissan Almera sports a fresh look, and the Opel Astra has new entry-level and flagship derivatives. The highly-rated Mégane II has landed on our shores in futuristic-looking hatch and saloon form and don’t forget about Toyota Corolla’s new sibling, the RunX.

Lastly, a quartet of Oriental medium saloons – Honda Accord, re-launched Hyundai Sonata, Mazda6 and new Subaru Legacy – have blown the best compact category wide open. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class may still hold the edge over its competitors, but it depends whom you ask – engine, gearbox and specification updates to BMW’s 3 Series could swing the outcome of the vote and the rock solid Audi A4 is always in the reckoning.

Or could the ultra-sporty MG ZT be the dark horse in the compact section? You tell us…

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Remember to enter CAR and CARtoday.com’s Top 12 online tyre giveaway and you could be one of five lucky readers to win tyres worth R4 000 from Michelin. All you need to get your name into the draw is correctly answer our Top 12 related question.

Original article from Car