Driven's Car of the Year: Mercedes-Benz E-Class
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Big job for the judges
With numerous vehicle launches this year plus a few facelifts or "refreshes" to boot, it's been a busy 2016 for Driven's judges.
The panel includes Driven editor Tony Verdon, Driven editor-at-large Liz Dobson, regional motoring editor Colin Smith, Wanganui Chronicle motoring editor John Maslin, Driven senior correspondent Cameron Officer and motorbike reviewer Mathieu Day.
As well as the launches around New Zealand, Australia, Europe and North America the judges were also reviewing vehicles, sometimes testing up to three cars a week -- which meant crowded driveways at home.
So when it came down to picking the top vehicles for this year our panel had a large array of vehicles to choose from -- from the $16,490 Holden Spark, to the $46,900 Skoda Superb and even an $800,000 Rolls-Royce Dawn.
For our bike reviewer, there was one clear winner out of the vast array of motorbikes tested.
The best of the best from 2016
In a year that vehicles of every size and price range launched in New Zealand there were many choices for Driven's Car of the Year for 2016.
But it came down to one car that made an impression early in the year at the global launch in Portugal, days after it was revealed at the Geneva motor show.
Congratulations go to Mercedes-Benz New Zealand, as the E-Class is our Car of the Year.
It takes the title not only because of its style, on-road performance, and the array of models available, but also because of its outstanding safety features.
At the global launch that Driven attended in early March, Mercedes-Benz said its 10th generation "business limo" had had a "leap of two decades in technology".
Though the all-new E-Class takes its exterior design cues from the C-Class and E-Class, it's what is under the bonnet, behind the five cameras around the car and in the boot, where one of the computers is stored, that gives it such a leap of technology and has impressed Driven's judges and the motoring media worldwide.
It has a near-autonomous driving system called Drive Pilot, touchpads on the steering wheel, and Car Play so you can use smartphone apps.
As well as Drive Pilot, there is Cross Wind Assist (which helps stabilise the sedan in strong winds); Active Lane Change Assist (by using the indicator, radars sense whether it is clear to move and the car does it for you); Evasive Steering Assist (which avoids hitting pedestrians); Pre-Safe Sound (where a sound is emitted just before a crash to protect your eardrums); plus impressive self-parking systems.
Currently there are five variants of the E-Class sedan on sale in New Zealand with three more joining the line-up by early next year. The E200 petrol is priced from $99,000 and the E400 starts at $149,900.
In my review of the E-Class, I said: "After driving the E-Class in Portugal, at the recent Australasian launch and then the E200 around Auckland I can say that Mercedes-Benz's head office in Germany should be making room for a swathe of awards the vehicle will get when Car of the Year gongs start getting handed out."
That prediction proved correct here, as the E-Class won 2016 New Zealand Car of the Year last week.
Alongside nine other top 10 finalists for the coveted award, the E-Class was a clear winner after votes submitted by the New Zealand Motoring Writers' Guild and the AA were collated.
Internationally, its multibeam LED headlamps won Red Dot Award: Product Design 2016 and the E-Class took out Best Business Car in the 2016 Telegraph Car Awards in Britain.
Want to know more?
Read the full Mercedes-Benz E-Class review here.
Driven Car of the Year Awards winners
Driven Car of the Year: Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Driven Compact Car of the Year: Holden Spark
Driven Small Car of the Year: Honda Civic
Driven Medium/Large Car of the Year: Skoda Superb
Driven Green Car of the Year: BMW 330e
Driven Luxury Car of the Year: Mercedes Benz E-Class
Driven Performance Car of the Year: BMW M2
Driven Small SUV of the Year: Kia Sportage
Driven Medium SUV of the Year: Volkswagen Tiguan
Driven Large SUV of the Year: Mazda CX-9
Driven Luxury SUV of the Year: Jaguar F-Pace
Driven Commercial Vehicle of the Year: Holden Colorado
Driven Bike of the Year: Yamaha MT-01