‘Tis the season for Car of the Year awards and, let me warn you before you slap a deposit on a winner, they’re all likely to disagree with each other.

Chris Nixon

Chris Nixon

Motoring expert

Got a motoring story or subject to share? email me at b@bmag.com.au

So what’s the point, if one magazine picks the Fantuzzi 3.8 and another the Yak all-terrain? How can there be multiple “bests”?

I’m too polite to suggest the point is mainly to garner attention for the publication rather than inform the motoring consumer, but you get my drift…

Publishers hope you’ll buy their magazine or newspaper or read their website to find out what car won and why. They hope car companies will buy hectares of advertising for the next year to publicise their success, quoting the publication name in all the ads.

Car companies hope they win, or at least don’t have their product’s deep flaws highlighted on the same page as a highly-praised rival.

Almost coincidentally, the COTYs as they’re called in the industry do generally deliver credible, useful decisions. Buying a COTY winner is usually a safe bet – unless you were around in 1973 when Wheels magazine chose the Leyland P76.

But why do the selections tend to differ? Human factors aside, the differences stem from eligibility and judging criteria. Some awards judge all new vehicles for sale, others just models that were significantly new in the past year.

The combined motoring clubs’ Australia’s Best Car assesses mountains of information from acceleration to the cost of a replacement headlight. Others employ more subjective methods, including back-to-back elimination testing.

Inevitably, good cars shine through wherever or however they’re judged. I’m tipping the Volkswagen Golf 7 and the Holden Commodore VF will win plenty this COTY season.

But ultimately the best judge is you, the buyer. I’ve rarely seen a good car fail in the showrooms and never a dud succeed – ordinary motorists quickly pick good from bad.

So when the next wave of awards roars in, compare all the different winners but you be the judge.