The #CarsAwards transitions from test track to mall: Image: Supplied

The #CarsAwards transitions from test track to mall

#CarsAwards, South Africa’s definitive automotive awards already incorporate consumer feedback, and now it gives car buyers a chance to engage with it publicly.


The #CarsAwards transitions from test track to mall: Image: Supplied

As judging for the 2023/24 Consumer Awards (#CarsAwards) gets underway at the renowned Gerotek proving ground in Gauteng, the awards program is primed to go “public” for the first time with a two-day activation event at the Mall of Africa on November 4 and 5. 

Now in its 7th iteration, the #CarsAwards recognizes the best purchasing propositions in 13 segments of the nation’s new-vehicle market. Following a strategic decision by its leadership to put the consumer at the forefront of its business, the leading motoring website introduced the #CarsAwards to be South Africa’s definitive automotive awards program in 2015.  

#CarsAwards exists to aid good car-buying decisions

“The #CarsAwards underlines’s commitment to helping our users understand the best way to spend their hard-earned Rands when purchasing new vehicles,” says Managing Director, Amasi Mwela. “The #CarsAwards brings together the insights of the top motoring experts in the country combined with feedback from real people who drive these vehicles every day to help our users make the best choices for their budget and lifestyle”.

Unlike other automotive award programs, the #CarsAwards considers all vehicles available in the South African new-vehicle market on a given date (1 September 2023, in the case of the 2023/24 installment). From this pool, the judges pick 65 semi-finalists and then whittle the list down to 39 finalists using a rigorous set of criteria, including feedback from owners and market insight from’s deep knowledge of the automotive market.

The 3 finalists in each of the 13 categories are then pitted against one another at Gerotek, where a combined judging panel (the editorial team and guest judges from various backgrounds and fields of expertise – 20 in total) test the vehicles back-to-back; specific judges are assigned to each category so they can compare the contenders in a controlled environment.

The judging panel only has half a say in which vehicles will win their #CarsAwards categories, however. The judges’ inputs are weighted (based on category) and that makes up 50 percent of the finalist vehicles’ scores; the other 50 percent takes into account customer data from the Ownership Satisfaction Survey, conducted by Lightstone Consumer. 

That data is based on feedback from thousands of South African motorists who own vehicles that are less than 4 years old and serviced through franchised dealers’ service departments.  

Meet #CarsAwards at Mall of Africa 

What distinguishes the 2023/24 Consumer Awards from previous iterations of the #CarsAwards is that consumers will not only be involved through providing invaluable customer data in the programme. During this weekend, they will, for the first time, be able to engage with the #CarsAwards and the finalists vehicles in person – as opposed to exclusively online or on social media – when all 39 finalist vehicles of the 2023/24 CarsAwards will be displayed at several activation areas within the prominent Mall of Africa in Johannesburg.

At the Consumer Awards Roadshow, motoring enthusiasts and prospective car buyers alike will be encouraged to get up close to, and take selfies with, their favourite finalist vehicles to enter competitions to stand to win spot prizes. The main giveaway, for which participants will need to scan a QR code to enter, is a weekend getaway worth R20 000.       

“We are thrilled to add another element to the Consumer Awards,” says Head of Special Projects at, Hannes Oosthuizen. “As the name indicates, these awards exist to assist consumers in their car buying journey, and by taking all 39 vehicles to a busy, public space such as the Mall of Africa, our message is clear – these are the top vehicles you should consider in 13 of the most important categories of the new-vehicle market. It’s a mammoth logistical challenge, but consumer awareness of #CarsAwards is critical to its success.”

Several CarsAwards-themed displays will be dotted throughout the Mall of Africa on Saturday (November 4) and Sunday (November 5). What’s more, several #CarsAwards judges will be in attendance and doing interviews with video presenter Ciro De Siena. Expect to see judges Juliet McGuire, Kumbi Mtshakazi, Muzi Sambo, Mpho Mahlangu, MrHowMuch, Rebaneilwe Semakane, Brendon Staniforth, Tshidi Malebana, Jacob Moshokoa and, of course,’s very own Ashley Oldfield, David Taylor and Gero Lilleike during the weekend.

“We expect a very busy weekend, and a very ‘ red’ Mall of Africa,” says Oosthuizen.

The winners of the 2023/24 Consumer Awards (including the recipient of the coveted Brand of the Year title) will be named in late February 2024. 

“Once we have determined the category winners and awarded trophies to the manufacturers of those vehicles (including Brand of the Year), we will start an intensive marketing campaign to spread the #CarsAwards message to consumers (billboard campaigns were used previously). After all, our goal with #CarsAwards is to impact consumer behaviour by assisting in the decision-making process,” he concludes.

Follow the #CarsAwards on, Facebook, X, Instagram and TikTok

This article was originally written by: Mike Fourie

Mike Fourie is a motoring journalist, columnist, copy editor, PR practitioner and a 3-time South African representative on the World Car of the Year jury panel.

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