Opel Astra 2017 WesBank / SAGMJ Car of the Year Article: Johann van Tonder

Opel Astra 2017 WesBank / SAGMJ Car of the Year Article: Johann van Tonder

The Opel Astra is the Wesbank South African Guild of Motoring Journalists’ 2017 Car of the Year, making South Africa the thirteenth country where the Opel Astra has been recognised as a Car of the Year since its global introduction in 2015.

The latest accolade, which was announced at an industry banquet at Kyalami on March 15, comes on the back of a multitude of awards both here and abroad for the 11th-generation Astra. The most significant of these is the European Car of the Year for 2016, widely considered the most prestigious and important prize in the world of motoring. It also picked up the 2015 SAFETYBEST Award and the 2015 Golden Steering Wheel Award. The Astra’s all-round excellence has not gone unnoticed on the local front either and since its April 2016 launch Opel’s C-segment hatchback has received accolades including being voted Independent Newspapers’ Best of the Best for 2016.


“The last time Opel won a South African Car of the Year Award was in the 1990s when we won three awards with the Opel Monza 160 GSi (1991), Opel Kadett 140 (1994) and Opel Astra 160iS (1995). I am very excited that the Opel Astra – which was the 2016 European Car of the Year – is now also a Wesbank South African Car of the Year,” said Ian Nicholls, President and Managing Director General Motors Sub-Saharan Africa.

This award, as well as the acquisition of Opel by the PSA Peugeot Citroën, bodes well for the Opel Brand. Peugeot’s 308 was the European Car of the Year Winner in 2015 before Astra snatched the award in 2016 and, recently, the Peugeot 3008 has been named the The European Car of the Year 2017. On top of this PSA Peugeot Citroën also won the 1.0 litre to 1.4 litre category of the Engine of the Year two years running with the 1,2 L Three Cylinder turbo engine found in the Peugeot 208, 2008, 308, 3008 and 5008. The acquisition of the Opel / Vauxhall brands not only turns the PSA Group into the second-largest automotive company in Europe, with a 17% market share, but also consolidates all these award winning vehicles and engines into a single group. An alliance of winners.


Collaboration between these brands is nothing new and the Opel Crossland X, due to be launched in South Africa later this year, was based on the Groupe PSA‘s PF1 platform, shared with the Citroën C3 Picasso and the Peugeot 2008. The Crossland X, a small crossover that replaces its Meriva minivan, will join Opel’s Mokka X in the subcompact SUV/crossover segment. Opel will build the Crossland X and PSA’s versions in Zaragoza, Spain.


Another, bigger SUV is also in the owrks. Named the Grandland X this SUV will take on the likes of Nissan’s Qashqai. This new model will share PSA’s EMP2 platform tech with Peugeot’s 3008 as well as the 5008 models. It’s likely to be built alongside the Peugeots in PSA’s factory in Sochaux, France. With the 3008 already having snatched the 2017 European Car of the Year title, the Grandland X promises to be a competitive model in the highly competitive SUV segment. Who knows, it might even snatch another Wesbank South African Guild of Motoring Journalists’ Car of the Year award for Opel in future.

Interesting Facts:

  • BMW has won the SA Car Of The Year title a record six times (1988, 1990, 1993, 1997, 2001 and 2011).
  • Audi, Volkswagen and Porsche have all won the SA Car Of The Year title three times, with Honda, Renault, Toyota and Volvo taking the crown twice.
  • Alfa Romeo, Ford, Hyundai, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, and Nissan have won the title once each.
  • Opel is the only manufacturer whom has won the SA Car Of The Year title for two consecutive years, and has ultimately won the competition four times.

Porsche is the only manufacturer in the history of the SA Car Of The Year competition to win the title for three consecutive years.