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Triple win for Hyundai and double wins for BMW, KIA and Mercedes-Benz

AJAC awards declare eleven "Best New" vehicles for 2012

AJAC's annual Test Fest took place this week at Niagara District Airport. Photo by Lee BailieOver seventy of Canada's top automotive journalists spent this week in the picturesque tourist town of Niagara-on-the-Lake; but not for the scenery or the wine tasting. Journalist members of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) were here for the express purpose of determining the 'Best New' cars and SUV/CUVs in 11 different vehicle categories, as part of AJAC's annual Canadian Car of the Year Awards program.

The four days of intensive, back-to-back testing and evaluation are known in the automotive industry as "TestFest". The results of the journalists' test-drive evaluations were made known today during a press conference wherein the category winners were announced. The press conference was held at the Niagara Drive Centre, located at the Niagara District Airport where "TestFest" is staged each year.

The winners are:

BEST NEW SMALL CAR (under $21k) Hyundai Accent

BEST NEW SMALL CAR (over $21k) Hyundai Elantra

BEST NEW FAMILY CAR (under $30k) Kia Optima

BEST NEW FAMILY CAR (over $30k) Kia Optima Hybrid

BEST NEW LUXURY CAR Mercedes-Benz C-Class C350 4MATIC Sedan

BEST NEW PRESTIGE CAR (over $75k) Mercedes-Benz S-Class S350 BlueTEC 4MATIC

BEST NEW SPORTS/PERFORMANCE CAR (under $50k): Hyundai Veloster

BEST NEW SPORTS/PERFORMANCE CAR (over $50k): BMW 1 Series M Coupé

BEST NEW SUV/CUV (under $35k) Dodge Journey

BEST NEW SUV/CUV ($35k-$60k) Volkswagen Touareg TDI Clean Diesel

BEST NEW SUV/CUV (over $60k) BMW X3

The results were compiled by the international accounting firm KPMG and kept confidential even from AJAC until this morning's press conference. They were determined from more than 40,000 individual data points established in the testing of 170 different vehicles.

The purpose of the AJAC awards is to provide consumers with a valuable resource they can use when researching the purchase of a new vehicle - one that includes a broad range of comparative information on vehicles that are new to the market. That information includes not just specifications and features but actual performance data and subjective ratings on up to 23 different characteristics - from interior roominess and comfort to ride quality and handling ability.

Our journalists' vote results - including all of the comparative test data amassed this week -  are on our web site for use as a consumer resource buying guide. Consumers that want to compare a Fiat 500 to Honda Civic Sedan or a Hyundai Accent? Or a Acura TL to a Mercedes-Benz C-Class C350? You need look no further than the AJAC web site: www.ajac.ca > Canadian Car of the Year Awards > Results

Photos from the TestFest evaluation program and press conference are available on the AJAC web site as well on the various social networking sites.

The 11 category winners listed above now go on to compete for the honour of becoming the 2012 Canadian Car of the Year or the 2012 Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year. These overall winners will be announced on February 16th, 2012, at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto, ON. Award winners for Best New Design and Best New Technology, presented by Shell Canada, will also be announced at that time.

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