However, when it came to our five key criteria; value for money, safety, functionality, fun and adaptability, we couldn’t split these two remarkable new offerings.
“Muscular, aggressive and stunning to look at, the cheapest ever M car from BMW is quite possibly the best.
“It’s old school – powered by a 272kW inline turbocharged six-cylinder driving the rear wheels, it possesses sublime handling, brilliant steering and a wonderful chassis.
“The way this car is engineered means it doesn’t need a plethora of electronic nannies to produce performance. It’s balanced, inspires confidence and it is easy to drive fast.
“After some time in a BMW M2, everything else is a let down.” – Chris Miller
“I can’t remember too many cars in recent times that have received as much praise as the BMW M2.
“Providing blistering performance and all the safety and convenience features we expect in a car in 2016, the M2 is a great all-round offering.
“I’m sure the M2 is a model that will keep people talking for years.” – Joel Helmes
Check out our full 2016 BMW M2 review here.
“Mazda has done a remarkable job combining all the elements of a functional and easy to live with family vehicle in an attractive package.
“The new Mazda CX-9 drives remarkably well, features better fuel economy than its main competitors and has a premium feel about it that the other seven-seater SUVs can’t match.” – Joel Helmes
“Somehow the Mazda CX-9 combines all the functionality of a large family wagon, with an engaging drive experience, comfort, good looks and the best economy in its class.
“Fuel consumption is outstanding from the turbo 4-cylinder engine. The CX-9 delivers an arm chair ride, but the handling is outstanding. A worthy Behind the Wheel winner of Car of the Year for 2016.” – Peter Hitchener
“It’s hard to believe the big, seven seat Mazda CX-9 is such a pleasure to drive. Quiet, powerful and refined it goes about its business in a relaxing, effortless fashion – and it’s composed and great fun to punt around with a bit of pace.
“Representing brilliant value, the base model costs around $43,000 yet you’d be forgiven for thinking you were driving a car worth more than $75k.
“It’s frugal, luxurious and great to look at, the Mazda CX-9 takes family motoring to a new level, well beyond the reach of its competitors.” – Chris Miller
Check out our full 2016 Mazda CX-9 review here.
More 2016 Behind the Wheel Car of the Year coverage in this week’s Behind the Wheel Podcast, including responses from BMW and Mazda.