A blend of cutting-edge technology, a stunning cabin and fine luxury saloon dynamics have propelled the latest Mercedes-Benz E-Class to 2016 New Zealand Car of the Year honours.
Judged by a panel that includes Drivesouth editor David Thomson and senior contributor Richard Bosselman, the E-Class was the clear winner over nine other finalists for the award, which is made by the New Zealand Motoring Writers' Guild in conjunction with the Automobile Association.
‘‘Mercedes-Benz says that this 10th generation E-Class has leapt forward two decades with its technology, and having driven it extensively at the global launch, in Australia and on New Zealand roads, I have to agree,'' says New Zealand Motoring Writers Guild president Liz Dobson.
‘‘But it's not only the outstanding passive and active safety features that make this car a winner, it also has a cabin and front dash that is futuristic, while the exterior styling makes it a head-turner.''
AA Motoring Services general manager Stella Stocks said the E-Class offered the next wave of technology as standard outside of its very visible and refined attributes.
‘‘While the judges make their selections on a variety of elements, for me, what is under the skin of the E-Class is excellent. Mercedes- Benz is a world leader in safety technology and it hasn't held back from ensuring this car is one of the safest on the market today, packed full of features to both avoid crashes and maximise occupant safety.''
The New Zealand Car of the Year was selected from a shortlist of new models released to the market between October 1, 2015, and September 30, 2016.
Mercedes picked up a second award at the Car of the Year ceremony, with the company's GLC (the coupe version of which is tested in this Drivesouth) named as the safest car of 2016. The GLC claimed the 2016 trophy by a whisker from the new Mazda CX-9, based on its performance in the Australasian New Car Assessment Programme (ANCAP) crash and safety test regime.
Alongside the overall Car of the Year award a safety trophy, nine category awards were made. In these, the judges can select from any new car available for sale new in New Zealand today, which means the winner can be an older model vehicle the judges' feel remains the best, despite the release of newer cars in the category.
2016 Best in class winners
Small car: Holden Spark
Compact car: Honda Civic
Medium/large car: Skoda Superb
Luxury car: Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Small SUV: Mazda CX-3
Medium SUV: Volkswagen Tiguan
Large SUV: Mazda CX-9
Luxury SUV: Volvo XC90
Utility: Ford Ranger
Sports/performance: Ford Mustang GT
Safest car: Mercedes-Benz GLC
NZ Car of the Year finalists Holden Spark, Honda Civic, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-9, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Skoda Superb, Subaru Levorg,
Suzuki Vitara, Volkswagen Tiguan.
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