Volkswagen has continued its recent dominance of Australia's most prestigious awards, Australia's Best Cars, with nine models making it through to the finals.
But the big news from the 2012 awards was the strong performance by Hyundai with five vehicles, the same number as prestige car maker BMW, making it through the list of 45 finalists.
Hyundai is the world's fastest growing brand and is now also starting to be recognised as a world leader in design, quality and technology.
In recent years the Korean car maker has been criticised for the poor ride and handling of many of its models, especially here in Australia, but it has also worked hard to resolve that issue by introducing unique suspension tuning for individual markets.
In Australia, all the suspension and steering settings are done here after thousands of kilometres of testing by a team of dedicated engineers.
It is a policy that is paying dividends with its new generation models starting to win praise for their ride and handling.
This year the 45 finalists were drawn from more than 300 vehicles across 15 categories ranging from $15,000 light cars through to high performance luxury sports cars worth more than $150,000.
All the vehicles were driven and assessed by a team of judges representing all the motoring clubs of Australia, including the RAC in WA.
The RAC's Australia's Best Cars judge, Alex Forrest (who is also a columnist for West Wheels), said the judging program was the most comprehensive of its kind in Australia.
Vehicles were not only measured on ride, handling, build quality, comfort and ergonomics but also scored on hard data such as running costs and insurance, safety, fuel consumption and price.
Mr Forrest said the Australia's Best Cars program, which is now in its 13th year, was conducted to help consumers make informed choices when buying a new vehicle.
"These are the best cars in their categories based on performance, value for money and safety," Mr Forrest said.
"With so many choices on the market, buying a new car can be difficult, but these awards offer independent and professional advice to motorists.
"Car buyers will still be influenced by how they feel about a car, but these awards help them to make an informed decision and give them peace of mind about their choice of new car."
The winners will be announced at a national ceremony in Sydney in late November.
‘’’Best Light Car under $20,000 ‘’’
Volkswagen Polo‘’’Best Light Car over $20,000 ‘’’
Volkswagen Polo‘’’Best Small Car under $35,000 ‘’’
Volkswagen Golf‘’’Best Small Car over $35,000 ‘’’
BMW 1 Series
Ford Focus Titanium‘’’Best Medium Car under $50,000 ‘’’
Toyota Camry Hybrid
Volkswagen Jetta‘’’Best Medium Car over $50,000 ‘’’
BMW 3 Series
Volkswagen CC‘’’Best Large Car under $60,000 ‘’’
Ford FG Falcon Ecoboost
Toyota Aurion‘’’Best Large Car over $60,000 ‘’’
BMW 5 Series
Lexus GS 350‘’’Best People Mover ‘’’
Toyota Prius V‘’’Best Sports Car under $80,000 ‘’’
Volkswagen Polo GTI
Volkswagen Scirocco R‘’’Best Sports Car over $80,000 ‘’’
Mercedes-Benz C63‘’’Best SUV under $40,000 ‘’’
Volkswagen Tiguan‘’’Best SUV over $40,000 ‘’’
Hyundai Sante Fe
Mazda CX-5‘’’Best Luxury SUV over $60,000 ‘’’
BMW X5 xDrive
Range Rover Sport
Volkswagen Touareg‘’’Best All Terrain 4WD’’’
Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo
Land Rover Discovery