The Judging Process
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Australia’s Best Cars is the Nation’s most comprehensive and independent consumer focused vehicle testing and award program, and is presented by the Australian Automobile Association, on behalf of Australia’s Motoring Clubs - NRMA Motoring & Services, RACV, RACQ, RAASA, RACWA, RACT and the AANT.
As Australia’s Best new car buyer’s guide, we include news, reviews and detailed scores on more than 300 vehicles – a great way for you to compare vehicles against their competitors and gives you confidence and knowledge to help you make an informed purchasing decision.
Following 12 months of continuous evaluation, a shortlist of potential finalists in each of the 15 categories was developed in October. The judges then subject the finalists to back-to-back driving tests on a variety of surfaces and conditions in an exhaustive, week-long process.
The Selection Process
All volume selling new vehicles on the Australian market are considered, not just current year releases. Limited edition models are not scored. Eligible vehicles must have a published on-sale date on or before 19 October 2012.
- Tested by the Motoring Clubs
Eligible vehicles must be made available to at least one of the state Motoring Clubs for a full road test prior to 1 October 2012.
- Model selection
The specific vehicle chosen for testing is the volume-selling variant (as specified by the vehicle manufacturer) from each model line. We score both the petrol and diesel variants.
- Even comparison
For the Light Car categories, the manual transmission version is selected for scoring, unless the vehicle is only available with automatic transmission.
- Judges’ discretion
The judging panel reserves the right to exclude vehicle models with sales of less than 200 units per annum or where pricing exceeds three times the Luxury Car Tax threshold.
- Engine variants
Where petrol and diesel variants of the same model are reviewed, both scores are indicated on the category score sheets.
The Scoring Process
Each vehicle is assessed against three areas:
- Value for Money,
- Design and Function and
- On the Road Performance.
Within each of these categories there are up to eight criteria. Each criterion is given a score between 1 and 10, with 10 being the best score possible (with the exception of the Off Road Ability score for 2WD vehicles, as these vehicles are not designed for off-roading we have determined that 2 is the highest score that a 2WD vehicle can attain for Off Road Ability).
Each vehicle’s overall score reflects its position within the class and should only be compared within its category.
The scores for each criterion are weighted – critical, high, medium or low – according to their importance to buyers in the relevant market segment.
Value for Money
Pricing: Australia's Best Cars takes the manufacturer's list price (from the October 8 online edition of Glass’s Guide).
Depreciation: Vehicles are ranked by the cost of depreciation in dollars, based on "Predicted Future Values" compiled by industry recognised Glass's information services.
Running and Repair Costs: Scheduled servicing and repair costs over five years or 75,000km on a number of typical replacement components including tyres and brakes and takes into account “fixed or capped” price servicing where offered.
Fuel Consumption: Measured fuel consumption according to Australian Design Rule 81/02 government fuel consumption test figures weighted by fuel grade price, and ranked across all vehicles in the program.
Warranty & Dealer Access: Warranty scores include the manufacturer's specified cover in years, with additional points given to extended power-train warranties. Dealer coverage has also been assessed within this score.
Standard Features: Australia's Best Cars judges compile and rate a list of the features (including safety features), which are provided as standard.
Design and Function
Safety: Using both ANCAP data and overseas crash testing information an assessment of each vehicle's secondary safety performance, including pedestrian safety is made. The score generated from this assessment represents approximately two thirds of the total Australia’s Best Cars safety score. The remaining third of the safety score is based on the vehicle’s standard dynamic safety features
Insurance: National insurance premiums are calculated and based on an “average” premium being: middle class suburb, male driver, 30 years driving experience, no accidents in last 5 years, market value, private use with no finance.
Environment: The Australian Government "Green Vehicle Guide" rating based on fuel consumption and emission standards. (www.greenvehicleguide.gov.au)
Comfort: All seat shaping, support and comfort, as judged by the Australia's Best Cars road test panel.
Space: Interior dimensions, including the occupant and luggage area, as measured according to the Australia's Best Cars road test procedure.
Practicality: This is an assessment of the vehicle's practicality for its intended use and includes access, versatility and convenience. Consideration is given to cargo/storage areas, seat folding or removal, seat belts and child restraint anchorages. Vehicles are penalised for impractical features such as space-saver tyres etc.
Ergonomics: This is the road test panel's assessment of user interaction. It encompasses the interior design, and the position, layout, access and operation of all controls and facilities.
Build Quality and Finish: An examination of several examples for the standard of assembly, painting, trim materials, quality and finish.
Performance: Measured acceleration and passing performance, as recorded in accordance with Australia's Best Cars road test procedure using electronic data collection.
Ride: The road test panel’s assessment of the vehicle's suspension compliance and ride comfort.
Handling: The vehicle's stability, precision and control in cornering manoeuvres, as judged by the road test panel. This includes steering sensitivity, response and road feedback.
Braking: Combination of measurements using the electronic road test equipment and the assessment of the road test panel and include emergency braking performance, stability, control/regulation and pedal feel.
Smoothness and Quietness: This includes both measurement and evaluation of Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) levels of the vehicle's engine, transmission, suspension and body refinement.
Off Road Ability: This is assessed during off road testing and is presented as one overall score for SUVs and Luxury SUVs. However, due to the limited off road capabilities of 2WD vehicles, these vehicles have only been given a score of 2. For the All Terrain 4WD vehicles, these are broken into two more specific aspects, Gearing/traction which includes off-road engine performance and Clearances/articulation.