TWELVE cars representing 10 brands have made the cut as finalists for the 2022 edition of the prestigious New Zealand Car of the Year, most embracing electrification. Six fully battery-dedicated models feature, along with three more that have hybrid options within their respective ranges.
Importance of battery-involved mobility has been increasingly obvious to the administrator of the annual award, the New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild, says president Richard Bosselman.
“The finalist selection again underscores the rapid addition of electrified options to the country’s new car model lists.”
Competition for the 2022 prize has nonetheless seen a resurgence from the combustion engine quarter, with a hot hatch and two sports utilities, a reminder the market continues to be in transition.
In alphabetical order, the candidates are:
The BMW iX, BYD Atto 3, Kia EV6, Mercedes-AMG EQS, Polestar 2 and Tesla Model Y are fully electric and purpose-designed for batteries.
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Mitsubishi Outlander and Lexus NX all avail in mains-replenished plug-in hybrid guise. The Lexus also delivers in mild hybrid; the Mercedes and Mitsubishi also in combustion engine forms.
Contenders considered in internal combustion are the Kia Sportage, the Hyundai i20 N compact petrol performance hatchback and the Ford Everest, a seven-seater diesel sports utility wagon, related to the Ford Ranger one-tonne utility that is highly popular here.
“Seeing electric vehicles come to the fore for New Zealand Car of the Year is not in itself new – of last year’s 10 finalists, all but one ‘battery-included’,” says Bosselman.
“Having as finalists six cars that are available solely with electric power does set a new benchmark for the award.”
The first electric-powered model to achieve New Zealand Car of the Year, represented by the Peter Greenslade Trophy, was the BMW i3, in 2015. That was a range extender version with a petrol engine acting as a power generator.
The prize has since gone to three fully electric cars. Jaguar i-Pace achieved the 2019 status, Mercedes-Benz EQC took the 2020 prize and Hyundai Ioniq 5 is the current holder.
Now entering its 35th year, New Zealand Car of the Year has firm industry and public recognition as country’s most prestigious motoring award. It is a truly national prize without commercial ties or influence.
To be considered as a finalist, a vehicle must have been launched in New Zealand as an all-new model in the past 12 months,
Twenty judges have been involved this year, with evaluations continuing into early 2023. The winner is announced live on TVNZ One’s Seven Sharp programme in February, 2023. Guild members assess the finalists on a specified range of criteria spanning how the vehicle performs its intended role; its styling, interior design and accommodation; fit, finish and quality; ride and refinement; performance; road-holding and handling; value for money; active and passive safety and environmental responsibility