The Porsche Boxster was announced the winner of South Africa’s 2013 Car of the Year (COTY) competition at a gala event held in Sandton on Wednesday.

The Porsche beat its nearest competitor, the Range Rover Evoque, by 40 points and outshone the other eleven finalists in what turned out to be a surprise – some might say shock – win for the German company.

With a price tag starting at R639 000, the two-seat convertible sports car’s place on the podium led to raised eyebrows, considering that far cheaper and more accessible cars like the Kia Rio and Hyundai i30 featured considerably further down the scoring list.

The SA Guild of Motoring Journalists (SAGMJ) said, however, that the Porsche accumulated the most number of points from the COTY jury during rigorous testing earlier in the year.

The competition’s top five cars for 2013 included the Lexus GS350 (143 points); the Kia Rio 1.4 Tec (144 points); Toyota’s 86 High MT (177 points); the Range Rover Evoque (181 points); and the Porsche Boxster, which racked up 221 points in total.

In an earlier review of the Boxster and its chances of winning the competition, Mambaonline’s Motoring Editor Brent Ellis said that “…the Boxster’s place as a COTY finalist boggles my mind.

“Sure, it may be an exceptional car but a two-seat soft-top sports car as the Car of the Year? Which most people in this country can’t even dream of affording? I don’t think so,” he wrote.

In a press release, the SAGMJ stated: “The WesBank / SAGMJ Car of the Year competition rewards automotive excellence and the winning vehicle must score highly in its own class, not against the other finalist vehicles, as is often thought, across a variety of categories including value for money, safety, dynamics, technology and aesthetics, to name but a few.

“The Boxster entered the competition as a highly revered vehicle that has redefined its market segment and raised the bar in terms of performance, dynamics, quality, value and desirability, in the process beating the remaining 11 finalists for top honours.”

Speaking after the winner’s announcement on Wednesday, Ellis said: “While I initially questioned the sports car’s eligibility in the competition, its win does make sense, it being a phenomenal contender in its class, if not the best.

“Once the Guild’s rationale is considered, the Porsche’s win is certainly acceptable and goes to show that you really cannot predict the winner.”

It was also revealed that the COTY jury voted to apply an equaliser to this year’s results after a number of finalist manufacturers failed to adhere to the COTY rule of supplying vehicles in standard specification for evaluation purposes.

“Several of the supplied vehicles featured unreasonable levels of optional equipment that, in some cases, included technological innovations that improve the vehicle’s ride and handling,” said the SAGMJ.

“The vehicles were evaluated and voted for as delivered, with a mathematical equation applied to the final votes to compensate for any advantage the excessively specified vehicles may have gained.”

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