Best cars of 2020? Here's what we'd buy
Search Driven for vehicles for sale
Last week, the Mercedes-Benz EQC was announced as the winner of the 2020 NZ Motoring Writer’s Guild Car of the Year. And though the parallel AA DRIVEN NZ Car of the Year was put on hold for 2020 given the time and expense of the two-days of top-10 testing, we weren’t able to choose our own outright and class winners.
However, the DRIVEN team are also judges on the Guild COTY programme and submit our rankings of the selected top 10, so for this final Expert Car Picks of 2020, we’ve decided to put together our own picks, from the top 10 cars, of the cars we’d actually buy with our own money.
Of course, that means the $143k EQC – as great as it is – is out of most of our own budgets. But what would we buy, from our own scored top five? Based on our own scoring, we’ve put together our own DRIVEN top five, so vote for your choice and let us know what you’d buy as 2020’s NZ Car of the Year.
Editor, Dean Evans: Mercedes-Benz GLB 250
While I really liked the Yaris and Fiesta, the new GLB also ranked in my top three. While the EQC is priced well in the range and to its rivals, I think the GLB is a better option and value. The new seven-seat compact/medium size SUV is perfect for me and the family.
It starts at $78,900 for the 120kW GLB 200, which is the one I’d likely stretch the budget for and very appealing with all the Benz attributes and of course three rows of seven seats and a modest but useable boot with the split folding third row.
Though I’d really like the 165kW GLB 250, which is fast enough for the family, 0-100km/h in 6.9 seconds, without needing to bump up to $105k for the 225kW AMG GLB 25 version – which is of course the natural pick.
Nope, with an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox, the GLB 250 would do me very nicely, packed with all the tech and safety you’d expect from a $92,900 SUV, and from the website, it seems the AMG Line gear is currently offered at no extra charge.
Ambient lighting, MBUX configurable dashboard and fuel economy of either 6.5l/100km (GLB 200) or 7.7l/100km (GLB 250), so while it’s not as fuel efficient as the EQC, it’s at least $50k cheaper… that’s a lot of fuel.
From the online configurator, I’d choose the Polar White (a $500 option!), with the 19-inch AMG five-spoke wheels, as they have black spokes.
Deputy Editor, David Linklater: Toyota Yaris
A proper Car of the Year should push the boundaries of its segment and ideally, the rest of the industry as well. The model that did that best in 2020 was the Toyota Yaris.
The new Yaris was always going to be a standout because the outgoing one should have gone straight from the showroom to MOTAT. But it delivers way more than we’d hoped, with distinctive design, the very latest in safety technology and active driver-assistance features and a couple of standout powertrains to choose from.
The standard petrol models have a fizzy three-cylinder and really good continuously variable transmission – that’s my pick for sheer fun. But the hybrid models offer surreal fuel economy: 3.3l/100km (and yes it really does do that). In fact, the Yaris is the most frugal hybrid you can buy in New Zealand. And arguably the coolest.
Yaris would be my pick even if this was based on the hatch alone. But Toyota has gone right on point for 2020 with the Yaris Cross SUV (which I haven’t driven yet) and GR Yaris hot hatch (which I have). Put them all together and the Yaris is the best, most relevant and most exciting car to come along this year.
Digital Writer, Andrew Sluys: Ford Fiesta ST
In an age when ‘bigger is better’ in the car world, there’s nothing better than getting behind the wheel of something that’s the size of a shopping trolley.
Offered exclusively with a manual transmission, the spicy little Ford Fiesta is an awesome little car that manages to combine adrenaline-inducing performance with the practicality of a regular supermini.
Under the hood sits a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine that makes 147kW and 290Nm. In modern performance standards, these aren’t big figures, but the Fiesta’s curb weight of just 1.2 tonnes offsets it perfectly. Due to the front-wheel drive nature of the ST, it gets a bit of wheel spin off the line, but the stiff suspension and limited-slip differential manages to keep this to a minimum while driving.
Speaking of the suspension, in sports mode it is tight, but still isn’t as harsh as the Focus ST. Body roll is kept to a minimum through the corners, and the rear end remains planted, giving the driver confidence to push it even further.
It’s also worth noting the awesome exhaust system that the ST comes with. Once it is flicked into sports mode, you can hear the turbo spooling up and a plethora of pops and bangs emerge on every downshift – exactly what you want to hear on a spirited drive.
When it comes to price, I’d argue that the Fiesta ST is unmatched on the dollar-per-smile scale. It starts from just $39,990, and while it isn’t as wild as something like the GR Yaris, it’s $15,000 cheaper, which is nothing to sneeze at.