“While I didn’t expect the Volvo V60 Polestar to eclipse Ford Mustang GT, it was certainly good to see Volvo, a company with a great history that has teetered on the brink of extinction, back in the winner’s circle.”

Margareta Mahlstedt accepting the Canadian Car of the Year award

Margareta Mahlstedt accepting the Canadian Car of the Year award.


The 2015 Canadian Car of the Year competition moved in to its final phase with the announcement of the final fifteen “Best New” category winners by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada, better known as AJAC.

These category winners were chosen by 73 Canadian automotive journalists following a recently completed hands-on, five-day, back-to-back evaluation drive event, known as “TestFest”, in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The testing is both detailed and a challenging process that generated 1,640 evaluation drives, approximately 106,405 data points and 500 category ballots.

“TestFest is the most intensive new vehicle evaluation process on the planet,” said CCOTY Co-Chair, Gary Grant.  “No other organization employs such stringent testing methods to determine their car of year award winners. Data driven and Canadian expertise:  that’s what makes an AJAC winner”.


The 2015 Canadian Car of the Year “Best New” award winners are:

City Car:                                                Kia Soul EV

Small Car (under $21k):                        Honda Fit

Small Car (over $21k):                          Volkswagen Golf

Family Car (under $30k):                       Subaru Legacy 2.5i

Family Car (over $30k):                         Hyundai Sonata

Luxury Car (under $50k):                       Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Luxury Car (over $50k):                         Hyundai Genesis

Sports – Performance (under $50k):      BMW M235i

Sports – Performance (over $50k):        Volvo V60 Polestar

Prestige (over $75k):                               Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Prestige – Performance (over $75k):     Porsche 911 Turbo S

SUV – CUV (under $35k):                        Subaru Outback 2.5i       

SUV – CUV ($35k-$60k) :                       Toyota Highlander

SUV – CUV (over $60k):                         Porsche Macan S

Pickup:                                                     Ford F-150


Within this group of “Best New” category winners is the eventual 2015 Canadian Car of the Year and 2015 Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year and these announcements will be made at the Canadian International Auto Show, in Toronto , on February 12, 2015. In addition, AJAC will also present 2015 awards for Best New Technology (January 15 / Montreal Auto Show) and Canadian Green Car of the Year (March 24/Vancouver Auto Show).

Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Subaru were all double winners and, as usual, there were a few surprises. You can look at the voting and scoring details plus all the collected data on performance (acceleration, braking, fuel economy, etc.) on the AJAC web site (ajac.ca). You can also look back on previous winners going all the way back to 1985, when the Volkswagen Golf (an omen perhaps?) was a winner.

A few weeks ago, I made some winner predictions for the seven categories that I managed to drive all entries, while at Testfest. Three proved to be right on the mark, two were runner-ups, but sadly, my Toyota Camry Hybrid and Chevrolet Tahoe choices were completely off target. The Acura RLX Hybrid was my most disappointing non-winner, as I also considered it a good candidate for overall Canadian Car of the Year. The RLX is an amazing sophisticated automobile that could yet win a new technology award.

There were just two entries in all-electric City Car category and the Kia Soul EV was a clear winner. I’ve heard both small car victors Honda Fit and VW Golf talked about as the potential overall winner. The double wins for Subaru and Hyundai were a bit of a surprise (to some) but it was certainly nice to see Porsche recognised for two outstanding products. While I didn’t expect the Volvo V60 Polestar to eclipse Ford Mustang GT, it was certainly good to see Volvo, a company with a great history that was teetered on the brink of extinction, back in the winner’s circle.

All voting for Canadian Car of the Year is done by secret ballot and the esteemed accounting firm KPMG tabulated the results.

Contact: bob [dot] mchugh [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

“It’s a Las Vegas-like atmosphere, where even in the dead of night, you’d be fooled into thinking it’s daytime…”

AS Jag F-TypeCoupe 

Downtown Niagara Falls can induce sensory overload for some. Including myself.

The Ontario city’s bright lights, flickering signs and novelty-themed stores take some time to absorb into the system. It’s a Las Vegas-like atmosphere, where even in the dead of night, you’d be fooled into thinking it’s daytime. The illuminated multicolour bulbs pulse as gatherers from all over soak it all in. Then there are the casinos…

One could also experience a sensory overload when a Jaguar F-Type R Coupe growls with purpose as it saunters down the road.

Inside the cabin, you’re greeted with everything that might make your senses tingle. A carefully crafted cabin, an 8-speed automatic transmission and 550 prancing ponies from a 5.0L, V8 engine, wait patiently to be unleashed on a purpose-built handling course.

Not to mention, there’s also a Porsche 911 Turbo S, a BMW M4 and Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible all eager to accompany you on a test loop.

Those four vehicles comprise the Prestige – Performance (over $75K) category at the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada’s annual TestFest; a time when journalists from all across Canada have the opportunity to back-to-back test what’s new on the market (See Bob McHugh’s TestFest Driveway cover story). Before my senses went into overdrive (with the Jaguar and others), I had a much more sensible time with my specifically assigned categories.

The first of three groups I tested was the Small Car under $21k, which included the Honda Fit and the Nissan Micra. Then there was the SUV/CUV under $35k class including the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue and the Subaru Outback 2.5i. And finally, Sports/Performance under $50k that allowed me to get behind the wheel of the BMW M235i, Ford Mustang (with the 2.3L, 4-cylinder Ecoboost engine), the Kia Forte Koup, Subaru WRX STI and the VW GTI.

The Nissan Micra, for just under $16k is a great value and the car is fun to drive.

Then there’s the Subaru Outback ($33,695- price as tested), which was a surprise for me. It didn’t break a sweat on the off-road portion of the test and drove really nicely on the road. Of course, I can’t complain when I have the keys to the seventh generation VW GTI, or the Subaru WRX STI, or even the BMW M235i.

Yes, it’s fun to enjoy the combined effort of engineering, design, and execution prowess, but the modus operandi of the weeklong event is to pick the best of the best.

While it’s fantastic to take out some of the most incredible machines on the market, I was pleasantly surprised how much I took to the City Car category. Driving the Kia Soul EV and the smart fortwo electric drive were definite highlights.

Being a huge fan of EVs, it’s nice to know that the category is growing. I mean, I’d love to be able to afford a Tesla Model S (as would many), it’s just not always a reality. But the pint-sized smart and the roomier Soul EV are ideal urban rompers.

Another noteworthy vehicle that impressed me was the Volvo V60 Polestar. Clad in a Rebel Blue exterior colour, it was a hoot experience. With 345 horsepower from a turbocharged 6-cylinder engine, the all-wheel drive wagon is not only practical, but also something that left me wanting to drive it again and again. There’s room for five and a couple strollers in the trunk. A perfect family hatch?!

Then there was the Challenger Hellcat. I mean, 707 horsepower in an urban setting seems like overkill, no? Nevertheless, Dodge has done a fabulous job with updating the interior and overall refinement of the vehicle that now turns even more heads.

Winners will be announced here starting in December.

Contact: alexandra [dot] straub [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

BMC-Testfest -Jeep Cherokee (CUV under $35K)
Photo: Bob McHugh
BMC-Testfest -Jaguar XJ (Prestige $75K+)
Photo: Bob McHugh
BMC-Testfest -Jaguar XJ - int (Prestige $75K+)
Photo: Bob McHugh
BMC-Testfest -Cadillac CTS (Luxury $50K+)
Photo: Bob McHugh
BMC-Testfest -Gen 1
Photo: Bob McHugh
BMC-Testfest - Toyota Corolla (Small car under $21K)
Photo: Bob McHugh
BMC-Testfest - Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 (Luxury under $50K)
Photo: Bob McHugh
BMC-Testfest - Honda Accord Hybrid (Family $30K+)
Photo: Bob McHugh
BMC-Testfest - Ford Fiesta (Small Car $21K+)
Photo: Bob McHugh
BMC-Testfest - Ford Fiesta (Small Car $21K+) - 2
Photo: Bob McHugh
BMC-Testfest - Corvette Stingray (Performance $50K+)
Photo: Bob McHugh
BMC-Testfest -Porsche Cayenne - off-road test (CUV $60K+)
Photo: Bob McHugh

Driving 30 vehicles in three days does leave one exhausted with a numb bum!

But that’s what 80 auto journalists – including yours truly – endured last week (more…)

  • Recent Comments

    • Andrew Ross { Enjoyed your Forest of Bowland in the BMW X5M, particularly the photo of the BMW in front of the main part of Stonyhurst College where... }
    • Davd Randall { Bantam designed the Jeep, not Willy's or Ford. The American military gave the original Bantam prototype to Willys and Ford to copy. There is plenty... }
    • Elliott Parodi { All Escalades come with a 6.2-lilter V8 engine that produces 420 horsepower. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission offered and drives the rear wheels.... }
    • Ev { Alexandra is an excellent journalist. }