It is a long list but then, 2023 has been a busy year for the motor industry in terms of new model activations, so the Jury of the South African Car of the Year will have a tough task ahead of them to sift through the semi-finalists to choose the finalists and then make their ultimate judgement early net year.

The 2024 competition, owned and run by the South African Guild of Mobility Journalists (SAGMJ), is the 38th COTY annual event and is sponsored by Old Mutual Insure (OMI) for the second consecutive year.

"We are excited to reveal this year's semi-finalists; a diverse set of competitors that are great examples of innovation and excellence in the automotive industry, which is what the competition is all about. We anticipate a highly competitive and thrilling competition this year as the Validation Committee meticulously evaluated each contender," says Garth Napier, MD of Old Mutual Insure.

The COTY Validation Committee selects vehicles, assessing eligibility against the rules stipulating only entirely new model ranges and not a new derivative of an existing model range qualify for entry. The only exception is a sports derivative of an existing model range, which is eligible to compete in the Performance Category.

Citroen C3

For the 2024 competition, more than 80 vehicles underwent evaluation, resulting in 30 meeting stringent entry criteria. SAGMJ members cast their votes, elevating 25 to semi-finalists. This meticulous process ensures adherence to competition standards, setting the stage for an exciting 2024 COTY competition.

"The 2024 COTY edition has a competitive lineup across all categories, setting the stage for fierce competition among overall and category winners," says Mabuyane Mabuza, Chairperson of the 2023 and 2024 COTY Committee and Vice-Chairperson of the SAGMJ.

The 25 semi-finalists boast strong representation across all categories. Starting with the Budget and Compact category that targets accessibility for first-time buyers, the Citroen C3 is joined by the Suzuki Fronx and the Toyota Vitz.

The Compact Family category sees heightened competition from the previous year, including a newly launched luxury Chinese brand, Omoda. The Family category welcomes the first Chinese battery-electric vehicle, the GWM Ora 03, in the COTY competition, adding a groundbreaking element to the mix and highlighting the competition's evolving landscape.

Omoda C5

In the Premium and Luxury categories, the dominance of brands such as Mercedes Benz, BMW, and Lexus is evident with three, two, and one entry, respectively. The Adventure SUV category sees competition from an Indian contender, the Mahindra Scorpio N, while the 4x4 Double Cab category is represented solely by the Volkswagen Amarok this year.

The semi-finalists representing the eight categories of the 2024 Car of the Year competition are: 

Budget and Compact

Citroen C3

Suzuki Fronx

Toyota Vitz

Compact Family

Omoda C5

Renault Captur

Suzuki Grand Vitara

Toyota Urban Cruiser


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GWM Ora 03

Mazda CX-60

Nissan X-Trail

Mitsubishi Outlander


Lexus NX

Mercedes-Benz GLC

Mercedes-Benz GLC


BMW 7 Series


Mercedes-Benz EQE

Mercedes-Benz EQS

4x4 Double Cab

Volkswagen Amarok

Volkswagen Amarok

Adventure SUV

Lexus LX

Mahindra Scorpio N



Ford Ranger Raptor

Honda Civic Type R

Toyota Corolla GR

The rising prevalence of battery-electric vehicles (BEV) and hybrid-electric vehicles (HEV), coupled with the expansion of local infrastructure to support this sector's growth, prompted the removal of the New Energy category of the COTY competition. These vehicles will now integrate seamlessly into other qualifying categories.

"The calibre of the 2024 COTY semi-finalists is truly impressive, reflecting the industry's commitment to pushing boundaries and delivering outstanding vehicles. Best wishes to each participant as they vie for the coveted title in their respective categories," adds Napier.

January 2024 sees the COTY jury narrowing this list to finalists. These contenders undergo rigorous evaluation before the jury finalises scores, revealing the official 2024 South African Car of the Year winners in May.

Colin Windell