Thomas Tetzlaff, manager of media relations at Volkswagen Canada (centre), with CAJ members John LeBlanc (left) and Jacques Deshaies (right) accepts the bear soapstone carving trophy for the Golf, named the 2015 Best of the Best.

Volkswagen Golf Wins CAJ Best of the Best Award

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Thomas Tetzlaff of Volkswagen Canada (centre) with CAJ members John LeBlanc (L) and Jacques Deshaies (R). /IANNICK LESSARD

MONTREAL, Jan. 15, 2015 — The Volkswagen Golf has been named the 2015 Best of the Best Award winner by the Canadian Automotive Jury (CAJ).

The award was presented to Volkswagen at the Montreal auto show this morning.

The Golf beat out the other Top Three finalists, the Ford Mustang and Porsche Macan, to win the coveted award.

The Best of the Best is an automotive award of excellence presented annually by Canada’s foremost automotive journalists. The CAJ believes Canadians are interested in Best of the Best because it recognizes “the one and only, best of the best.” Any vehicle (or family of vehicles) on sale in Canada on September 1 is eligible for the award. The previous year’s overall Best of the Best winner is automatically invited back to defend its title.

 The judgment that the CAJ brings to bear on its decision is based on the information and evaluative opportunities the members have experienced over the previous 12 months.

The Best of the Best winner trophy is an Inuit soapstone carving of a polar bear, donated by the North West Company’s Inuit Art division.

For more information about The Canadian Automotive Jury, please contact CAJ Secretary Patricia Cancilla at patcaj1@hotmail.com

The Canadian Automotive Jury is a not-for-profit group of prominent Canadian automotive journalists pledged to the highest standards of uncompromised reporting. The Jury has a coast-to-coast reach in all forms of media including newspapers, radio, television and online. The collective reach of the CAJ is 43,253,351 weekly (according to MediaWatch Research & Analysis Canada Inc.). Follow us on Twitter at @CdnAutoJury

 

Der neue Volkswagen Golf

CAJ to name Best of the Best Award winner on Canada AM

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Der neue Volkswagen GolfTORONTO — Which of the Top Three finalists will be crowned Best of the Best by the Canadian Automotive Jury (CAJ): the Ford Mustang, Porsche Macan or Volkswagen Golf? Watch Canada AM on Jan. 15 to see who will win the coveted award presented by Canada’s foremost automotive journalists.

The announcement will be made by CAJ members Graeme Fletcher and Petrina Gentile at 7:45 a.m., just prior to the opening of the Montreal auto show, where the award will be presented to the winning automaker.

“Picking this year’s winner was tough,” says Gentile, who writes for the Globe and Mail. “The competition was stiff among the iconic Mustang with its fuel-efficient EcoBoost engine, the Macan with its heart-pounding performance that’s true to a Porsche and the Volkswagen Golf with its Euro-inspired styling and fantastic TDI diesel engine.”

Fletcher, who writes for the National Post, says, “It really was a difficult decision. Having whittled the 12 Best candidates down to three was where the hard work started. I loved the Mustang, the Macan is the personification of all that’s good about a compact crossover and the Golf, well, it is the Golf. It has been a staple for years. Picking the winner will be a truly tough choice, but the eventual winner will be a worthy victor.”

For more information about The Canadian Automotive Jury, please contact CAJ Secretary Patricia Cancilla at patcaj1@hotmail.com

The Canadian Automotive Jury is a not-for-profit group of prominent Canadian automotive journalists pledged to the highest standards of uncompromised reporting. The Jury has a coast-to-coast reach in all forms of media including newspapers, radio, television and online. Follow us on Twitter at @CdnAutoJury

Porsche's Macan is a Top Three Best of the Best finalist chosen by the Canadian Automotive Jury.

CAJ ANNOUNCES TOP THREE BEST OF THE BEST FINALISTS

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2015 Porsche Macan _3_

TORONTO, Dec. 22, 2014 — The Canadian Automotive Jury (CAJ) has announced the Top Three contenders for its sixth annual Best of the Best Awards.

The 2015 Top Three finalists are (in alphabetical order): the Ford Mustang, Porsche Macan and Volkswagen Golf/GTI.

The finalists were chosen from a list of contenders that also included the Acura TLX, Audi A3 Sedan, Jaguar F-Type Coupe, Mazda3 (returning champ), Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan, Mercedes-Benz GLA and Subaru Legacy/Outback.

The 2015 Best of the Best winner will be announced January 15 at the Montreal auto show.

The CAJ’s annual Best of the Best Awards are unique in Canada. The not-for-profit organization is independently funded by its Jurors and Secretary, all veteran automotive journalists who account for the vast majority of automotive industry coverage in Canada.

The Jury members are (in alphabetical order): David Booth, Patricia Cancilla (Secretary), Jeremy Cato, Benoit Charest, Jacques Deshaies, Graeme Fletcher,  Gabriel Gélinas, Petrina Gentile, John LeBlanc, Éric LeFrançois and Jim Robinson.

For more information, please contact CAJ Secretary Patricia Cancilla at patcaj1@hotmail.com

2015 Ford Mustang GT

CAJ ANNOUNCES 2015 BEST OF THE BEST FINALISTS

2015 Ford Mustang GT

Ford’s Mustang is one of the Canadian Automotive Jury’s 2015 Best of the Best finalists. /Ford stock photo

TORONTO, Nov. 7, 2014 — The Canadian Automotive Jury (CAJ) has announced the finalists for its sixth annual Best of the Best Awards.

The finalists are (in alphabetical order): the Acura TLX, Audi A3 Sedan, Ford Mustang, Jaguar F-Type Coupe, Mazda3 (returning champ), Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Porsche Macan, Subaru Legacy/Outback and Volkswagen Golf/GTI.

“It was a tough decision, but we’ve narrowed down the best vehicles of 2015 to our Top 10,” says Jury member Petrina Gentile, who writes for the Globe and Mail. “Our top picks cover all types of vehicles available to Canadians ranging from value-packed pony cars such as the Ford Mustang to the luxurious, high-performance Jaguar F-Type.”

There are also a few crossovers thrown in for good measure. “Nowhere is the market growing faster than the entry-level luxury crossover segment,” says Graeme Fletcher, who writes for Postmedia. “Mercedes-Benz takes on the breed with the all-new GLA, featuring a more expressive form than traditional crossovers, while Porsche offers its Macan, which delivers spirited performance combined with a comfortable, quiet ride.”

The CAJ’s annual Best of the Best Awards are unique in Canada. The not-for-profit organization is independently funded by its 10 Jurors and Secretary, all veteran automotive journalists who, with a combined experience of nearly 300 years, account for the vast majority of automotive industry coverage in Canada.

The Jury members are (in alphabetical order): David Booth, Patricia Cancilla (Secretary), Jeremy Cato, Benoit Charest, Jacques Deshaies, Graeme Fletcher, Gabriel Gélinas, Petrina Gentile, John LeBlanc, Éric LeFrançois and Jim Robinson.

The Best of the Best winner will be announced January 15 at the Montreal auto show.

Video: Watch CAJ unveil Best of the Best winner on Canada AM

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Graeme Fletcher and Petrina Gentile unveil the winner of the CAJ’s Best of the Best vehicle award for 2014 and why it was voted number one. Click on: Canada AM: Automotive excellence of 2014
http://canadaam.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=275106&playlistId=1.1641820&playlistPageNum=1

 

 

Mazda3

Mazda3 wins CAJ’s 2014 Best of the Best Award

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TORONTO, JAN. 16, 2014 – The Mazda3 is the winner of the 2014 Best of the Best award, the Canadian Automotive Jury (CAJ) announced live on CTV’s Canada AM this morning.

The Mazda3 beat out 11 other finalists, which included a wide variety of vehicles available to Canadian new-car buyers. The CAJ’s Best of the Best finalists don’t exclusively focus on a specific model within a family of vehicles or only “all-new” models, and they include the reigning Best of the Best winner from the previous year, which is an automatic finalist.

Along with the winning Mazda3, the 2014 finalists included the following: Audi RS7, BMW 4 Series, Cadillac ATS (2013 Best of the Best winner), Chevrolet Corvette, Chevrolet Impala, Infiniti Q50, Jaguar F-Type, Kia Forte, Mazda6, Mercedes-Benz CLA and Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid.

The Top Three finalists were the Corvette, F-Type and Mazda3.

The CAJ chooses its finalists based on the following criteria: style, design (exterior and interior), ride and handling, performance, ergonomics, comfort, space, cargo capacity, fuel efficiency and noise, vibration and harshness (NVH).

One of the key considerations for choosing the winner is market significance — what the car will do to change things for both the automaker and the automotive market. According to the CAJ, the Mazda3 is a standout in the compact car segment in terms of fit, finish and technology and it accounts for 30% of Mazda’s worldwide sales.

The CAJ’s annual Best of the Best Awards are unique in Canada. The not-for-profit organization is independently funded by its Jurors, 11 senior automotive journalists, and its Secretary, an automotive editor and writer, who account for the vast majority of automotive industry coverage in Canada.

The Jury members are (in alphabetical order): David Booth, Patricia Cancilla (Secretary), Jeremy Cato, Benoit Charest, Jacques Deshaies, Graeme Fletcher,  Gabriel Gélinas, Petrina Gentile, John LeBlanc, Éric LeFrançois, Jim Robinson and Michael Vaughan.

The 2014 Best of the Best award will be presented to Mazda for its Mazda3 today in Montreal.

For more information about the Canadian Automotive Jury, please contact CAJ Secretary Patricia Cancilla at patcaj1@hotmail.com

2014 Best

CAJ WILL ANNOUNCE BEST OF THE BEST WINNER ON CANADA AM

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The Canadian Automotive Jury (CAJ) will announce its fifth annual Best of the Best Award winner live on CTV’s Canada AM on Jan. 16.

The 2014 Top Three finalists are: the Chevrolet Corvette, Jaguar F-Type and Mazda3.

The Best of the Best is an automotive award of excellence presented annually by the CAJ, a not-for-profit group of prominent Canadian automotive journalists pledged to the highest standards of uncompromised reporting. The Jury believes Canadians are interested in Best of the Best because it recognizes “the one and only, best of the best.” Any vehicle on sale in Canada on Sept. 1 is eligible for the award.

The Best of the Best Winner trophy is an Inuit soapstone carving of a polar bear, donated by the North West Company’s Inuit Art division. The award will be presented to the winner during the Montreal auto show Jan. 16.

The CAJ has a coast-to-coast reach in all forms of media including newspapers, radio, television and online. The collective reach of the Jury is 43,253,351 weekly (according to MediaWatch Research & Analysis Canada Inc.). The Jury members are (in alphabetical order): David Booth, Patricia Cancilla (Secretary), Jeremy Cato, Benoit Charest, Jacques Deshaies, Graeme Fletcher,  Gabriel Gélinas, Petrina Gentile, John LeBlanc, Éric LeFrançois, Jim Robinson and Michael Vaughan.

For more information, please contact CAJ Secretary Patricia Cancilla at patcaj1@hotmail.com

 

A4_014_021_JNA_FRONT-1008x567

CAJ names Top Three Best of the Best finalists

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TORONTO, Dec. 16, 2013 — The Canadian Automotive Jury (CAJ) has announced the Top Three contenders for its fifth annual Best of the Best Awards.

The 2014 Top Three finalists are (in alphabetical order): the Chevrolet Corvette, Jaguar F-Type and Mazda3.

“The Corvette is an iconic automobile that will appeal to die-hard car enthusiasts and young buyers alike for its design and uncompromising power,” says jury member Petrina Gentile, automotive writer at the Globe and Mail.

Jury member Graeme Fletcher, automotive writer at the National Post and reporter at Motoring TV, says of the Jaguar F-Type: “There are precious few cars that look as good as they drive and vice versa. The F-Type is a dynamic piece either way — fast, fun and a head-turner of the first order.”

And last but not least, the Mazda3 gets high praise from jury member Éric LeFrançois, automotive writer at La Presse: “Through its performance and dynamics, the new Mazda3 shines brightly in a rather bland segment of affordable transportation. Its fit, finish and technology content makes it a rival to some premium compacts in the Canadian market.”

The 2014 Best of the Best winner will be announced January 16 at the Montreal auto show.

The CAJ’s annual Best of the Best Awards are unique in Canada. The not-for-profit organization is independently funded by its 11 Jurors and Secretary, all veteran automotive journalists who, with a combined experience of more than 285 years, account for the vast majority of automotive industry coverage in Canada.

The Jury members are (in alphabetical order): David Booth, Patricia Cancilla (Secretary), Jeremy Cato, Benoit Charest, Jacques Deshaies, Graeme Fletcher,  Gabriel Gélinas, Petrina Gentile, John LeBlanc, Éric LeFrançois, Jim Robinson and Michael Vaughan.

Road Test: 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG

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Mercedes Benz CLS 63 AMG

By Patricia Cancilla

It’s what I want for Christmas.

If all my friends and family chip in, they might be able to come up with the $127,750 Mercedes is asking for its 2014 CLS 63 AMG S-Model. Hey, I’ve been really good this year …

Here’s what you get for that seemingly lofty price tag: A bi-turbo V8 engine producing 577 horsepower at 5,750 rpm, 590 pound-feet of torque at 5,000 rpm, AMG Speedshift MCT Sports seven-speed manumatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, 19-inch AMG five-spoke wheels, red brake callipers, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, black Passion leather upholstery, automatic climate control, heated front and rear seats, power sliding sunroof, Keyless Go push-button start, harman-kardon Logic7 surround sound system with Sirius satellite radio, Comand APS with HDD navigation and DVD changer, backup camera and a dizzying array of safety features including dual-stage front air bags, driver’s knee air bags, pelvis air bags, ABS, ESP (Electronic Stability Program), Distronic Plus, Parktronic with Active Parking Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist and about two dozen other safety features. It’s a lot of stuff packed into a truly gorgeous four-door “coupe.”

The CLS 63 AMG is safe, warm and comfortable — the perfect car to test during one of the coldest weeks of the year so far (temperatures got as low as -25C with the wind chill). Along with all the mod-cons comes Mercedes’ Airmatic air suspension with adaptive damping, which provides a smooth ride over unforgiving winter potholes.

And the performance is awesome, even in the snow. Mercedes had the car “winterized” — which means winter tires but no snow brush. When I asked why not, a spokesman said: “We never provide snow brushes in Mercedes.” I guess Mercedes-Benz owners never brush off their own cars; presumably, the help supplies all that stuff, including windshield wiper fluid. But I digress …

I was talking about performance: The CLS 63 AMG S sprints from zero to 100 kilometres an hour in a mere 3.6 seconds. Its top speed is 300 km/h and, even though I dared not try to achieve such outrageous — not to mention illegal — numbers on the highway (not that I could during the pre-Christmas rush where every hour is rush hour in the city), I could feel the power waiting to be unleashed if I was ever to find myself on the autobahn. Sigh. But I did manage to take a few fast curves, which caused the car to “hug” me! And who can’t use a warm hug on a cold winter’s day? It’s Mercedes Active Seat Bolstering that does the hugging action: When you take a corner quickly, the seats “push” on the sides of your body to keep you safely in place. I have experienced this feature in other Mercedes models such as the SL, but I had forgotten about it and it took me by surprise — in a nice way.

But the best part of the CLS 63 AMG S is the sound of the engine: VROOOM! Love it! Some powerful cars just don’t sound the part, but Mercedes does it very well. It even embarrassed me a few times when I started the car after being stopped at a red light: In downtown Toronto, where cyclists and enviro-weenies glare at you as if you’re a convicted murderer if you’re driving a car — even an old beater, but with more hostility if you’re driving a nice Mercedes — it’s a natural reaction to feel uncomfortable. But I felt no such qualms outside of the city centre, where people appreciate the sound of a V8 engine and give you approving looks. VROOOM! VROOOOOM!

The car’s fuel economy is something even the tree huggers might appreciate: It averages 13.5 litres per 100 kilometres in the city and 9.1 L/100 km on the highway. Well, maybe not, but I think those are pretty good numbers for the 1,945-kilogram Mercedes-Benz.

The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG starts at $113,500 and the S-Model starts at $122,250.

I’ll take mine in Tenerite Grey metallic.

2014 Toyota Corolla

Road Test: 2014 Toyota Corolla

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By Patricia Cancilla

 

Exciting.

It’s not a word I would have previously used to describe the Toyota Corolla. Reliable? Yes. Affordable? Yes. But exciting? Uh, no.

Not until now, that is.

The all-new 2014 Corolla has a visually pleasing design as well as a peppier ride than its predecessor. In fact, during the first few days of my week-long road test, I kept forgetting I was driving a Corolla.

No, you wouldn’t mistake this for an expensive sports car, but there’s plenty of zip in the compact’s 1.8-litre, four-cylinder engine rated at 132 horsepower. The Corolla handled very well in stop-and-go city traffic and it was more than capable during high-speed passing manoeuvres on the busy highways.

The driving experience was made even more exciting — at least in the S model I tested — by the CVTi-S transmission, which gives the car a sportier feel during both city and highway driving. The seven-speed sequential shiftmatic mode can be actuated through the shift gate or via steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

Along with being a pleasure to pilot, the 11th generation of Toyota’s best-selling compact sedan is also more spacious than ever. With a 100-millimetre-longer wheelbase and 99-mm-longer overall length than the previous model, the new Corolla feels incredibly roomy inside. The front seats have a longer, lower cushion and a 15-mm increase in the range of adjustment in all directions. It is now much easier to custom-fit the driver’s seat, resulting in a much more comfortable ride. That’s much appreciated by this vertically challenged motorist!

And yet, the car’s sleek, new rounded design makes it look smaller on the outside than its boxier predecessor, giving the Corolla a sportier, more attractive stance. The S tester came in a bright Barcelona Red Metallic hue and sported 17-inch alloy wheels, giving the sedan an almost sexy exterior. Yes, sexy (almost). Bet you never thought you’d hear a Corolla described that way either!

All Corollas come with standard features such as LED headlamps with LED daytime running lights, colour-keyed door handles and outside mirrors, a 60/40-split fold-down rear seat, power door locks with automatic locking feature, power windows with driver-side one-touch up/down, eight air bags and Toyota’s Star Safety System, which includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist as well as the standard Smart Stop Technology brake-override system and an electronic tire pressure monitoring system.

There are four trim levels available: the CE, LE, S and a new ECO version, which offers better fuel economy via a more efficient 1.8L engine with VALVEMATIC technology and CVTi-S transmission.

The Corolla S model I tested came with a leather-wrapped tilt and telescopic steering wheel with audio controls, Softex simulated leather heated seats (which I could’ve sworn were the real thing until I read otherwise on the spec sheet), a power tilt and slide sunroof, 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels, a 6.1-inch touchscreen display audio with Bluetooth and six speakers, automatic air conditioning, eight-way power-adjustable driver seat and more. All this for $24,204 CDN. (The base CE starts at just $15,995.)

There’s good reason the Corolla has been the world’s best-selling compact sedan for the last 47 years, according to Toyota: price. But it used to be a boring box on wheels. Now, there’s an exciting new design and fun-to-drive factor to go along with that frugality.

Launched in June, the made-in-Canada Corolla is available in dealerships now.

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