The Mercedes Benz C200.
The Mercedes Benz C200.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class leads 2014 best cars awards

ONE in 10 cars sold in Australia come from the luxury realm, and it seems even the notoriously conservative motoring clubs are on the prestige bandwagon.

Mercedes-Benz picked up one of the key accolades in this year's Australia's Best Cars awards, with the three-pointed star's all-conquering C-Class named judge's pick from this year's batch of 15 segment winners.

Among the other big winners was the Volkswagen Golf in the nation's biggest selling genre - small cars under $35,000.

The awards are conducted by judges from the nation's motoring clubs, including the RACQ and the NRMA, testing 220 cars to narrow it down to 45 finalists.

In Australia's fastest growing segments, SUVs, the Nissan Qashqai ST  and Subaru Forester were triumphant, as were the Hyundai Santa Fe ($45,000-$65,000) and the Volkswagen Touareg ($65,000-$125,000).

It's hard to argue with the "judges pick" result.

The C-Class is an outstanding piece of machinery and is a deserved winner of the medium segment above $50,000 along with overall honours.

Released in September, the C-Class delivered exterior tweaks but the vital improvements came via improved on-road manners and an outstanding cabin design. With a base price of $60,000 for the C200 it also means top-notch luxury is within reach of many Australians.

"It won (it's segment) by a staggering 64 points over last year's winner, the BMW 320i, one of the highest margins in this year's program," judges remarks said.

"The latest iteration is a stylish, luxury vehicle that offers category-leading design and function, equal category leading on-the-road performance, and it's safe. So safe, that it earned the equal highest safety score of the 220 vehicles tested this year."

Among the surprises was Citroen Grand C4 Picasso picking up the family wagon gong while the Skoda Octavia managed to beat some highly-fancied opponents in the medium car under $50,000 division.

Also interesting were the absences. Australia's biggest car seller, Toyota, had only one finalist which was the Camry Hybrid in the medium-size segment.

Mazda also missed out on any gongs despite having three vehicles shortlisted. Ford, too, was empty handed in the passenger car realm, although it had a win in the dual-cab genre.  

Holden just managed to edge out the new Hyundai Genesis by two points in the large car category under $70,000 with the Commodore SV6.

Australia's Best Cars
Best Micro Car:
Mitsubishi Mirage ES
Best Light Car: Renault Clio Expression TCe 120
Best Small Car Under $35,000: Volkswagen Golf 90TSI Comfortline
Best Small Car Over $35,000: Audi A3 Sportback TFSI COD
Best Medium Car Under $50,000: Skoda Octavia 103TSI Ambition Plus
Best Medium Car Over $50,000: Mercedes-Benz C Class C200
Best Sports Car Under $50,000: Volkswagen Golf GTI
Best Sports Car $50,000-$100,000: Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG
Best Small 2WD SUV Under $35,000: Nissan Qashqai ST
Best AWD SUV $45,000-$65,000: Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander
Best AWD SUV Under $45,000: Subaru Forester 2.5i
Best AWD SUV $65,000-$125,000: Volkswagen Touareg V6 TDI  
Best 4x4 Dual Cab Ute: Ford Ranger XLT
Best Family Wagon: Citroën Grand C4 Picasso
Best Large Car Under $70,000: Holden VF Commodore SV6