2017 Car of the Year - Peter Hitcheners’ Finalists

peter hitchener car of the year

New cars have continued the trend of recent years, they just keep getting better. Car buyers are benefiting from improved safety, design, ride and handling, while fuel use and running costs have tended to come down.

What’s not to like about that! In fact, you would be hard pressed to name a model these days from any major manufacturer, that isn’t up to scratch.

Choosing Behind the Wheel’s Car of the Year against this background is therefore more difficult than ever.

In fact, I kept changing my mind and thrashing out the pros and cons of every contender with fellow reviewer with radio show/podcast co-host, Chris Miller… thanks for your patience Chris!

After lengthy discussions, here is my list, with a few special mentions…


Reviewing Hyundai’s new i30 small hatchback was one of the highlights of the year. It is such an improvement on an already great range, that I couldn’t go past it for refinement, build quality, and a comprehensive list of features.

There’s a choice of petrol and diesel engines, six-speed auto or manual, the all important ANCAP 5 Star safety rating, and it’s certainly value for money.

Those European good looks and the beautiful cabin are available from around $20k to around $35k, depending on grade and options.

Special mention to the Volkswagen Golf 7.5 for reminding me just how good this car has always been.


Are you like just about everyone else these days, choosing an SUV over a sedan?

They are now outselling sedans on the Australian market, and there’s furious competition too, whether you’re after a small, medium or large vehicle.

Here I opted for an Audi SUVs - the new Q5, which effortlessly takes design, functionality and luxury to new levels.

The surprisingly roomy Q5 is priced from the mid $60s to mid $80s, and comes with plenty of features and a lengthy - but not cheap - options list. Just how did they fit-in all that space!

Special mention to the glorious Range Rover Velar - stunning and I almost had to toss a coin to separate it from the Audi Q5.

My Dream Car

My third choice for Car of the Year is one that came as an absolute surprise. Who knew the Lexus LC 500 (V8) was so satisfying.

This captivating 2 door coupe, looks amazing - check out those wheels and the fancy headlights - and the drive certainly does not disappoint.

The cabin is wonderful - with the exception of the anything-but-intuitive infotainment system - fit and finish are beyond reproach, but please don’t try fitting anyone in the tiny back seats.

There’s something old fashioned about a rear wheel drive grand tourer, powered by a 5.0 litre V8, but in this car it just doesn’t matter. Personality and flair in spades, that’s the Lexus LC 500.

You will need to cough up $190k for the pleasure of owning one, but just listen to the roar of that engine!

We will announce the 2017 Behind the Wheel Car of the Year on Friday.

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