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2017 Car of the Year: The selection process

By Tony O’Kane, 20 Jan 2017 COTY

2017 Car of the Year: The selection process

What defines a COTY contender? Here's the checklist.

The list of car launches that take place in each year is a lengthy one, but only a small proportion are eligible for COTY contention. Here's how we cull the non-starters.

OF THE hundreds of vehicles Wheels journalists test every year, only the best earn a Car of the Year guernsey.

Choosing nominees for testing from the wide range of eligible cars is a long and difficult process, with the final line-up determined by the magazine’s chief road-testers.

The choice for most of the nominees is obvious if they make significant generational improvements, or reset class benchmarks. The process gets tricky when it comes to eligible cars whose gains are less apparent, or if the breadth and ability of the entire range is unclear. Due to the sheer volume of new cars released each year, Wheels simply can’t test each variant of every new car before COTY.

In some cases the Australian release timing of new models falls so close to the December 1 cut-off that no Wheels road-tester has driven them. A wildcard nomination can be granted if it’s agreed they are significant enough or have sufficient promise.

Once Car of the Year nominees are chosen, variants within the range are hand-picked to provide judges with the broadest spread of a range’s credentials and to balance different trim, drivetrain and bodystyle options. Wheels also endeavours to include the volume-selling variant.