On the surface of it, the Philippine Car of the Year is just another in a long list of awards given out every year in the motoring scene. And despite the pains the Car Awards Group Inc. goes through to include objective criteria in the testing, in the end there is still an element of subjectivity in the scoring. Judges are, after all, only human. And even the most diligent motoring writers on the beat don’t get to drive more than a dozen or two new cars a year.
Which is why CAGI’s annual Test Fest gathers both judges and cars together in one venue for some hands-on testing. One big fat joyride? You would think! In reality, it’s hard work, with judges rushing to finish their drive quota before the cut-off. With 25 cars a day to process, each Test Fest is a massive juggling act.
But by driving competing cars side-by-side, judges can more accurately score them against each other, based on set guidelines. While some degree of subjectivity still exists, this is as fair as judging can get. Consumers can be assured that if a car wins a category at COTY, it does so for a good reason.
Beyond that, COTY is a good opportunity for manufacturers and media to get together to network. Win or lose, smaller manufacturers benefit from increased exposure to and through different media outlets. This makes customers more aware of the variety of choices available to them. A win-win situation, all around.
And finally, competition is the best way to improve the breed. Since COTY is only open to models with major technical upgrades, manufacturers are encouraged to roll out updates for certain models on a yearly basis rather than following the old three-year/six-year model-change paradigm. And seeing firsthand how their car performs compared to others helps them fine-tune product-planning and marketing drives.
Some might say: If a car is already good, why bother changing it? Well, not all buyers think that way. For a lot of new car buyers, the reassurance that the manufacturer is continuously improving its products is a must.
In the end, all of this trickles down to the consumers, whether they pay attention to COTY or not. But even if they don’t, they have the assurance that the COTY badge is more than just another sticker on their brand-new car.
That’s like getting free expert advice.