The New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild has released a list of ten new vehicles which have been selected as finalists to compete for the 2020 New Zealand Car of the Year title.

The Guild represents more than 20 motoring journalists from around the country and is considered to be the most prestigious of the annual New Zealand Car of the Year awards, given its longevity over more than three decades as well as being a truly independent assessment of a new vehicle’s qualities and attributes across a broad range of criteria.

“This year will go down in history for a whole variety of reasons, but the reveal of the finalists culminating with the announcement of the winner will mean a positive finish to 2020 for one brand in particular,” said the President of the New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild, Richard Edwards.

“After many tumultuous months full of Covid-related twists and turns, it will be a welcome relief to farewell what has been a challenging period with the announcement of the 33rd winner of this coveted trophy.”

The ten new vehicles in contention for the 2020 award include two small cars – the Ford Fiesta and Toyota Yaris – while there are eight SUV newcomers in contention; namely the Audi Q3, Kia Seltos, Land Rover Defender, Mazda CX-30, Mercedes-Benz EQC, Mercedes-Benz GLB, Peugeot 2008 and Skoda Kamiq.

“This year’s top-ten reflects the strong influence that SUV and Crossover variants now have on the total new vehicle market, so it’s no small wonder these models make up the majority of finalists,” said Mr Edwards.

On average, in excess of 50 new models from more than 30 different brands are launched in New Zealand every year, although this number was down in 2020 due to supply restrictions associated with Covid-19.

“Given these numbers, the Guild takes great responsibility in determining the winner of the New Zealand Car of the Year accolade as our decision contributes to and influences the buying decision of many Kiwi motorists,” said Mr Edwards.

“New car buyers can rest assured that the winner is absolutely deserving of the title as it will have undergone extensive testing and excelled across a wide variety of measures, especially when compared with other finalists.

“It takes a very special vehicle to be crowned the New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild New Zealand Car of the Year, an endorsement which represents a significant accomplishment for any new model.”

The 2020 winner will be revealed live on ‘Seven Sharp’ during the first week of December.

The top-ten finalists in alphabetical order, as well as quotes from brand representatives, are as follows:

Audi Q3

“Being acknowledged as a contender of the New Zealand Car of the Year title is a huge accolade for the Audi Q3. The Q3 has been part of the Audi SUV stable for many years and has a wide range of offerings from 2wd to Quattro all-wheel drive and petrol and diesel powertrains. Importantly, Kiwis love of performance is delivered through the SQ3 which makes up 50% of our sales. Now the SUV has been joined by its design focused brother, the Sportback, offering a coupe style which will allow the family to grow further.”

Dean Sheed
Audi New Zealand General Manager

Drive Life Review – 2020 Audi RS Q3 – Car Review – Redefining the hot hatch

Ford Fiesta

“It’s great news that the Ford Fiesta made the Top Ten list this year and is heartening to know driving excitement and pure, gear-changing fun still matters! The Ford Fiesta ST stands out in this regard, especially in a world where SUVs dominate and the manual transmission is becoming increasingly rare.”

Tom Clancy
Ford New Zealand

Drive Life Review – 2020 Ford Fiesta ST – Car Review – Hot Hatch Heaven

Kia Seltos

“The strong reaction from the public ahead of the introduction of Seltos clearly indicates that we have another winner on our hands.”

Todd McDonald
Managing Director Kia Motors New Zealand

Drive Life Review – 2020 Kia Seltos LX – Car Review – Inexpensive Suburban Utility

Land Rover Defender

“To have the new Defender 110 acknowledged for the New Zealand Car of The Year Award is a true testament to the excellent capability, durability, design and technology of this vehicle. The new model represents 70-years of innovation and improvement; honouring the vehicle’s history for rugged solidity whilst remaining a Defender for the 21st century. Since launch, the Defender has shook the SUV market and seen remarkable sales success, selling out of our first two vehicle shipments in just weeks. The launch of the new Defender is one of the biggest automotive launches of the year and one of the most memorable of my career, this is a vehicle I am incredibly proud of.”

Steve Kenchington
Jaguar Land Rover New Zealand General Manager

Drive Life Review – Coming Soon

Mazda CX-30

“We’re delighted the Mazda CX-30 is a finalist. It is recognition of the amazing job the Mazda design team did in creating an outstanding looking vehicle that brings together the flowing proportions of a coupe with the versatility of an SUV.

“Reaction from NZ Motorists has been very positive as it has provided a great alternative for people who want the versatility of SUV without the need to move into a larger vehicle.”

David Hodge
Managing Director Mazda New Zealand

Drive Life Review – 2020 Mazda CX-30 Limited – Car Review – A Taste of Luxury

Mercedes EQC & Mercedes GLB

“As New Zealand’s best-selling luxury vehicle company, we are honoured to be acknowledged by the New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild in 2020. Both the EQC and GLB are part of Mercedes-Benz new SUV offensive, contributing to the biggest range of SUV’s for sale in New Zealand. To have two models in the running for the top ten is immensely satisfying, and I thank the entire team that helped bring these models to market.”

Lance Bennett
General Manager Mercedes Benz New Zealand

Drive Life Review – 2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC – Car Review – better late than never

Drive Life Review – 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 – Car Review – When an SUV is better

Peugeot 2008

“We are ecstatic the all-new Peugeot 2008 SUV has been recognised by the New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild as a top-ten finalist in their annual New Zealand Car of the Year award. We said at launch the 2008 SUV is anything but ordinary, and this nomination is proof that the judges agree.

“The nomination builds on international accolades bestowed on the new model and we’re quietly confident it could enjoy similar success here in New Zealand when the winner is announced in December.

“It’s been more than 30-years since Peugeot last claimed the prestigious title when the 405 won in 1989, so it would mean a lot for the brand if the 2008 SUV was to be presented with the award.”

Chris Brown
CEO Auto Distributors New Zealand

Drive Life Review – Coming Soon

Skoda Kamiq

“We are thrilled that our first compact SUV to our family of ŠKODA models has made the New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild-New Zealand Car of the Year top-ten! KAMIQ is the ‘Perfect Fit’ to our SUV line-up, one which is set to become a pillar of our ŠKODA model range as a whole.”

Rodney Gillard
General Manager Skoda NZ

Drive Life Review – 2020 Skoda Kamiq Monte Carlo – Car Review – All the car you need?

Toyota Yaris

“It’s great to see Toyota featuring again in the top-ten for New Zealand Car of the Year, as we continue to strengthen our range. The Yaris hybrid is spearheading a whole range of new product, which is the best range of vehicles we have ever offered.”

Neeraj Lala
Toyota New Zealand CEO

Drive Life Review – Coming Soon

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Fred Alvrez
How on earth to start this? I've been car/bike/truck crazy since I was a teen. Like John, I had the obligatory Countach poster on the wall. I guess I'm more officially into classic and muscle cars than anything else - I currently have a '65 Sunbeam Tiger that left the factory the same day as I left the hospital as a newborn with my mother. How could I not buy that car? In 2016 my wife and I drove across the USA in a brand-new Dodge Challenger, and then shipped it home. You can read more on We did this again in 2019 in a 1990 Chev Corvette - you can read about that trip on DriveLife. I'm a driving instructor and an Observer for the Institute of Advanced Motorists - trying to do my bit to make our roads safer.


  1. What a joke!!! I’d have gone with a Yaris. A $140,000 Mercedes??? Hell no, never.
    Never mind it’s the cost of a house deposit, I like Reliable and parts easily available.
    I know someone with an older Merc, and it’s a PITA even if he had to have a prang fixed, getting parts!!!
    Ridiculous. And who has that money? Most expensive car we ever bought was $8000

  2. Hi H Moore
    Thanks for the comments.
    I guess it’s a matter of keeping in mind that this is the car of the year award – it’s not the cheapest car of the year award. Sometimes a cheaper car will win, other times not.


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