DriveLife

Welcome to the first DriveLife – Car of the Year awards. During the last 12 months, we have reviewed many new cars and the team felt that it was time to hand out our own awards.

We have 11 award categories that vehicles can enter, each with their own criteria which we will cover as we move through each one. The system of eligibility is simple; vehicles can only be entered if they have been fully reviewed by at least one member of the DriveLife team. The vehicle must also be driven between January 1st and December 31st of that awards year.

In 2017 we reviewed 58 vehicles in total, all of which have been are eligible to enter into the 2017 Car of the Year Awards. If you wonder why certain cars were not listed that could have won, it’s because we were never giving the chance to review them.

Each category had to reflect how the DriveLife team felt about the cars and their segments. We all agreed that rating vehicles based on class would not work for us, as we take in-depth reviews on each vehicle we drive. We felt that many cross the boundaries of their market segments.

The team spent several months discussing and working out what we felt were a selection of categories that reflected what DriveLife is about. We have “Driver’s Car of the Year”, “Best Value Car of the Year”, “Hottest Car of the Year”, “Luxury Car of the Year”, “Toughest Car of the Year”, “Coolest Gadget Car of the Year”, “Family Car of the Year”, “Unexpected Car of the Year”, “Best Sounding Car of the Year”, “Eco Warrior’s Car of the Year”,  and the official top award of “The Car of the Year”.

So let’s get into it and run through each category, list the candidates and what we were looking for, followed by the winner and an honourable mention for the runner up.

DriveLife’s Driver’s Car of the Year

This Driver’s award is about how the vehicle performs and makes you feel when driving it. Does its balance of performance and handling leave you feeling like you have become one with the car and the road?

Final Candidates for 2017

WINNER – 2017 DriveLife’s Driver’s Car of the Year – 2017 Honda Civic Type R

Whether you love or hate the looks, if you’ve had the chance to drive the Civic Type-R we can guarantee it will have put a smile on your face. Its combination of power, handling and braking is fantastic, with an almost perfect manual gear shift. This really is an excellent driver’s car which deserves its award despite some very stiff competition.

RUNNER UP – 2017 Mazda MX5 RF

I was so looking forward to driving the RF, and it didn’t let me down. I am smiling as I type this, remembering what it was like. The handling, braking and feel through the steering wheel are top of the class…when someone says a car is like a go-kart, well that may as well be the MX-5 RF.

While not completely topless, it still looks sexy as hell and is almost practical too.


DriveLife’s Best Value Car of the Year

The Value for money award is a subjective thing, but sometimes overlooked. Regardless of cost, this award represents excellent value in technology, performance, safety – or just features compared to their competitors.

Final Candidates for 2017

WINNER – 2017 DriveLife’s Best Value Car of the Year – 2017 Skoda Kodiaq Ambition

When Skoda New Zealand asked me which Kodiaq I’d like to test – the base model at $42,990, or the top of the range model, I asked for the base model. There aren’t many 7-seat SUVs available in New Zealand for that price, and if past experience of Skodas was anything to go by, it was going to be good. And by God, it’s good. That little 1.4-litre turbo petrol motor just wants to go – all the time. For forty grand, this car is a bargain.

RUNNER UP – 2017 Volvo V90D Cross Country

From the day-to-day to long cross-country trips. The V90D was great to live with; the right features, comfy and as safe as houses. It wasn’t the cheapest vehicle in the list, but you do get a lot for your money.


DriveLife’s Luxury Car of the Year

The Luxury award represents the pinnacle of what manufacturers can offer in terms of comfort, quality and style.

Final Candidates for 2017

WINNER –  2017 DriveLife’s Luxury Car of the Year – 2017 Land Rover Discovery

The Discovery stood out from the crowd for being a well appointed spacious 7 (grown-up)  seater SUV, with a vast range of innovative storage solutions.

RUNNER UP – 2017 Volvo V90D Cross Country

For comfort alone the Volvo was the winner; a sleek and well-designed interior.


DriveLife’s Hottest Car of the Year

This award is all about looks. Which vehicle would create the best bedroom poster, desktop or phone background?

Final Candidates for 2017

WINNER –  2017 DriveLife’s Hottest Car of the Year – 2017 Honda Civic Type R

Non-one can deny that the Civic Type-R was one of the most anticipated cars of 2017. And Honda’s designers went all-out with wings, splitters, side skirts and massive wheels. It’s not to everyone’s taste, but we love it.

RUNNER UP – 2017 Abarth 124 Spider

It may share a big chunk of its DNA with a certain Mazda, but Abarth have given the 124 Spider a style of its own, with its quad exhausts and tough, low stance. It’s certainly a car that got a lot of looks when we reviewed it.


DriveLife’s Toughest Car of the Year

This award is about the rough and tough. Which vehicle would take you over the toughest terrain while trying to survive a zombie apocalypse?

Final Candidates for 2017

WINNER –  2017 DriveLife’s Toughest Car of the Year – 2017 Ram Laramie 2500

This truck is just badass. It’s a towering beast that looks down upon regular utes like fish food. With its 6.7-litre Cummins turbo diesel engine, 1084Nm of torque and 7-tons towing capacity, no other ute comes even close to being able to do what this pure American monster can.

RUNNER UP – 2017 Toyota Land Cruiser 70

When old-school is the new school the Land Cruiser still has what it takes to go the distance, over any terrain. It has a tough, workmanlike look that fits this category to a tee.


DriveLife’s Family Car of the Year

This award is all about practicality. And if you could only have one car. Which would be the best all round vehicle for the family of today. Long family on a road trip? Space for everything? Can take knocks from unruly kids? And the dog in the back?

Final Candidates for 2017

WINNER –  2017 DriveLife’s Family Car of the Year – 2017 Skoda Kodiaq Ambition

I had the Kodiaq for over a week, and simply drove it as my daily car. It’s practical with loads of space – LOADS – and has those little Skoda quirky features, that makes you ask, “why don’t others do that?” The little flip-out protectors for the doors? Pure genius for those with kids.

RUNNER UP – 2017 Skoda Octavia RS Wagon

For a family car the Octavia RS ticks so many boxes. It looks great, it’s spacious, and has a massive boot. It has all the right equipment for transporting the kids safely and comfortably, but when you want it’s fast enough to have some fun. A great all-round package at a good price.


DriveLife’s Unexpected Car of the Year

This award is for the vehicle that turned out to be jaw-dropping compared to our unjustified expectations.

Final Candidates for 2017

WINNER –  2017 DriveLife’s Unexpected Car of the Year – 2017 Mini Cooper S Countryman E

EV cars are usually dull and boring. When people even say the word hybrid, petrolheads just switch off. But this Mini lived outside that box, and was in tune with the wants and feelings of today’s drivers. I had so much fun in this car, which no one else could believe.

RUNNER UP – Holden Astra RS-V

The new Astra was a total surprise for me. It looked much better in the flesh than in photos, and with 147Kw of power and 280Nm of torque, it’s a whole lot of fun to drive. Add into the mix some genuinely good handling, and that’s a recipe for a vote from me.


DriveLife’s Coolest Gadget of the Year

This award is for the coolest feature, the one that feels like it comes from Q’s lab waiting for James Bond to arrive.

Final Candidates for 2017

WINNER –  2017 DriveLife’s Coolest Gadget of the Year – 2017 BMW 530D XDrive Touring

BMW’s camera system is way ahead of the pack, working so seamlessly you sometimes didn’t even notice how much it was doing. And the display key is something from the future or a James Bond movie. Very cool car.

RUNNER UP – 2017 Volvo V90D Cross Country

Volvos have always had a reputation for safety, but the V90 takes it to another level with active and passive systems that are so well-implemented that you don’t even notice them. But if you ever need them they’ll intervene and probably save your life. And those pop-up booster seats are a fantastic idea for those of us with young kids.


DriveLife’s Greatest Sounding Car of the Year

This award is all about sound, amazing glorious sound. It’s all about that feeling it gives you when you hear it, and what can sometimes lift an average car into an amazing car. All those things that make a petrolhead grin every time the throttle is pressed.

Final Candidates for 2017

WINNER –  2017 DriveLife’s Best Sounding Car of the Year2017 Mercedes Benz AMG C43 Coupe

Needless to say, when my calendar popped up that I was to review the AMG C43 Coupe, my first reaction was, “what, it isn’t the C63?”. I needn’t have worried too much. While it would have been nice to have V8 sounds, the exhaust note that twin-turbo V6 engine is just AWESOME. Tunnels become a must-drive route to your destination. And if you want even more noise, smack the loud exhaust button on the console, and open the windows…

RUNNER UP – 2017 Ram Laramie 2500

Many would question this runner up. Surely there are better sounding vehicles out there? But the roar from the 6.7L Cummins engines, completed the tank-like feeling you had when driving the mighty Ram.


DriveLife’s Eco Warrior’s Car of the Year

This award is for the vehicle that just wanted to stick it to the oil companies of the world. It’s all about reducing the running costs while doing your bit to save the planet.

Final Candidates for 2017

WINNER –  2017 DriveLife’s Eco Warrior’s Car of the Year – 2017 Hyundai Ioniq EV

The Ioniq EV surprised us by being, well, just a very good car. The fact that it was fully electric was incidental to the fact that it was a well-equipped, practical, good-to-drive family sedan. Hyundai have done a great job of packaging the electric drivetrain without compromising the car in any way. And it’s cheaper than most of its rivals.

RUNNER UP – 2017 Mini Cooper S Countryman E

It wasn’t the most efficient car in the group, but it did surprise us by being the most enjoyable hybrid to live with.


DriveLife’s The Car of the Year

This award is for the best car of the year. This category is only open to those vehicles that we gave a Five Chevron rating to in our reviews. This year gave us a surprisingly long list of vehicles which we considered to be excellent in every way.

Final Candidates for 2017

WINNER –  2017 DriveLife’s The Car of the Year – 2017 Volvo V90D Cross Country

When something fits you perfectly, you often don’t realise it’s there. This is how the V90D felt. Comfort was perfect, full of useful features and tech, turn-your-head styling, and the knowledge that you’re in the safest car on the road.

RUNNER UP – 2017 Mini Cooper S Countryman E

If this car had a longer boot, it might have taken the title. But it was a true Mini at heart and a joy to drive. It earned its place as runner up by being a great drive, practical and friendly to the environment.

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