You came, you saw, you voted and the contenders conquered. The 2021 Motoring Press Agency Car of The Year Award was like no other merit recognition shindig in history. Even the Oscars do not boast this kind of surprise winners.
It was a first of its kind in this country, and what are we if not trailblazers? Unlike previous awards, several things went differently this time. First off, we increased the number of categories that nominees could vie for, and we will have even more categories for 2022. Secondly, we introduced inclusivity. We have always told you what we think, this time round we gave you the chance to tell us what you think by means of popular vote, and this is where things got interesting.
It is one thing to sit on this side of the table, where you are the professional, the expert and objectivity is a prerequisite – objectivity born of cold hard fact, mathematical analysis and scientific deduction; but it is quite another to be on your side of the table: the end user, the consumer, the marketing and advertising target. The poll led quite a number of revelations, and this is where we break it down. Read on:
- MOST INNOVATIVE CONCEPT
We sincerely believe that this has to be the most important award in contention; by some consideration even more important than the Car of The Year itself. While the Car of The Year is the one that amazes us overall, the Most Innovative Concept recognizes the system that pushes the industry forward, promotes growth and encourages the very involvement of the regular citizen in the automotive industry.
That concept is the Proton Saga, and we will tell you why.
But before we get to that, we first have to inform you that the Saga mopped the entire Innovative Concept floor with nothing left behind. You see, we had two sets of awards: the Judge’s Award which is representative of the Motoring Press Agency’s expert opinion based on the aforementioned cold, hard facts; then we have the People’s Choice, which is the democratic voice of the masses. DJs will call this “playing what the people want”, and boy did the Saga come to play.
Why did we like it? The vehicle is cheap for a new car. Not affordable, but cheap. The Saga comes in three trims, from most cheap to least cheap (we cannot bring ourselves to mention the word “expensive” here).
Right on the poverty line we have the Standard Manual, which as the name fails to warn us of a spoiler alert, is a standard car with a 5-speed manual transmission. That may not sound like much until you realize it costs a paltry KES 1.15 million. That pricing puts it right within firing range of lesser machines, some of which cannot honestly be classified as motor vehicles.
Next up the ladder is the Standard Auto, which is the just the same vehicle but without a clutch pedal, meaning the transmission does the shifting for you. For this convenience, you pony up an extra hundred grand, which, nowadays, is not that much cabbage to be honest. The Standard Auto costs KES 1.25 million.
At the very top is the Premium Auto, which is the car we drove… and drove… and drove until we almost assumed it was ours. We were about to start personalizing it with aftermarket enhancements when the call from Simba Colt came asking could we please give back their car; some other people need to test drive it as well. No biggie. In keeping with the theme, an extra hundred bones are needed to get you into one.
What do you get for 1.35 million, since the Premium Auto is the one to have? A lot of stuff, actually.
Let’s start with the outside. You get a compact four-door saloon car with color coded bumpers, door handles and side mirrors paired off nicely with a set of alloy rims. Daytime running lights are standard, as are fog lamps and just a dash of chrome both fore and aft: not so much as to invoke ‘60s American gaudiness and not so little that you can pry it off with your fingers. Just enough, as Goldilocks would no doubt approve.
Once inside, you get more kit. There are power windows all round (a previous CoTY winner only had power windows at the front). There are power mirrors. There is a button to deactivate the parking sensors which sometimes exhibit a bit too much enthusiasm but hey, isn’t that what they’re supposed to do? We never heard anyone complain about the terrain proximity sensors on a Boeing being “too enthusiastic”, and these are just the same thing only pointed horizontally away from the bumpers while the Boeing’s are pointed downwards away from the hull. Keep those parking sensors activated if you haven’t graduated yet from the Russ Swift School Of Inch-Perfect Parking Jobs.
There are a lot more toys, details of which we’ll have to request you to read the brochure… or contact Simba Colt… or watch our videos on YouTube; really there is no shortage of supply of information. What we will say is the Saga was up against some very stiff competition chief of which was the actual Car of The Year, the Mazda CX9, which packed a lot of tech but this tech comes at about five or six times the Saga’s asking price. That the two cars were the same color was just a happy coincidence, they play in different leagues. An honorable mention is the Mobius III which performed strongly at the polls (they too have come a long way) but at the end of the day could still not beat the Proton in the popularity contest.
67,000/- deposit and a thousand shillings a day sounds like a very easy way into car ownership. That this car comes with a fancy paint job, alloy rims, high specification and is a bastion of local assembly is just icing on the cake; ladies and gentlemen, the Most Innovative Concept for the Motoring Press Agency Car of The Year Award 2021 belongs to the Proton Saga. We have decided, you have decided, the car deserves its win.
See you on the next one