The C-Class sedan
New Zealand’s car of the year for 2000 is a Mercedes sedan that proves value motoring exists even at the upper end of the new car market, writes Dave Moore.

The C-Class sedan, which ranges in price from $NZ71,000 to $NZ111,000 ($US31,400 to $US49,000), is the first Mercedes-Benz model to win the annual title, awarded by the New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild.

The guild represents more than 30 specialist journalists in daily and specialist print media, as well as on radio and television programmes and websites – in all contributing to more than 50 regularly-published titles.

In winning, the C-Class headed off – in no particular order – the Volvo V70 estate, Toyota‘s Echo (Yaris/Vitz), Celica and RAV4, BMW‘s updated Three-Series, the Honda Odyssey (Shuttle), Renault Clio, Nissan’s Maxima (Qx) and the Aero version of the Saab 9-5, which in wagon form was a top 10 finalist last year.

Guild members assessed passenger vehicles released in New Zealand between January 1 and December 31, 2000 – almost 50 vehicles in all. The 10 factors considered by each voter included performance, design, quality, safety and value for money.

Now in its 13th year, the New Zealand Car of The Year Award – represented by the Peter Greenslade Memorial Trophy – is considered the country’s most prestigious and sought-after automotive prize by local vehicle importers.

Previous winners include the Honda S2000 sports car, Volkswagen Passat, BMW’s Five-Series (1988 and 1996), Peugeot 405, Mazda MX5 (Miata), Citroen ZX, Lexus LS400, Nissan’s Maxima and the Toyota Corona (Carina E).

Author: Dave Moore is motoring editor of the Press, a regional daily newspaper published in Christchurch, New Zealand.