Wheels - And the winner is ... Mazda's dynamic MX-5. Yes, the third generation of the world's favourite sports car has swept Australia's longest-running and most prestigious motoring award.

Australia’s most prestigious motoring award – Wheels’ 2005 Car Of The Year – has been won to Mazda’s dynamic MX-5.

It is the second time Mazda’s giant-killing sports car has won the coveted award – the first MX-5 was crowned COTY in 1989. Yet the 10-strong Wheels judging team proclaimed the third-generation MX-5 a worthy repeat winner.

In doing so, the judges described the MX-5 as a demonstrably better car than both its illustrious predecessor and the 21 other models assembled for this year’s intensive, week-long judging process.

In Wheels’ February Car Of The Year issue – on sale tomorrow – deputy editor John Carey says: “The MX-5 is so perfectly balanced, so intuitively agile, so thoroughly thrilling, that it cannot fail to make the spirit soar.” Carey also describes the MX-5’s value for money equation as “unrivalled”.

Similarly, the MX-5 stacked up best of all against the other criteria in the world’s longest continuously-run award of its type (Wheels’ Car Of The Year was established in 1964). Judges included Wheels staffers, contributors and invited experts.
Describing its performance against one of the other criteria for the award, John Carey said: “Perfect fulfilment of intended function”.

The MX-5 claimed the prestigious Wheels Car Of The Year 2005 trophy after an extensive elimination process which involved the use of Ford’s You Yangs proving ground, near Geelong, Victoria, together with three days of exhaustive testing on public roads.

The full list of 2005 COTY contenders (in alphabetical order) is:

  • • BMW 3 Series
    • Chrysler 300C
    • Citroën C4
    • Ford Focus
    • Hyundai Sonata
    • Holden Tigra
    • Jeep Grand Cherokee
    • Land Rover Discovery 3
    • Lexus IS250
    • Lexus GS300 and GS430
    • Mazda MX-5
    • Mercedes-Benz B-Class
    • Mercedes-Benz CLS
    • Mercedes-Benz M-Class
    • Mitsubishi 380
    • Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX
    • Nissan Murano
    • Renault Scenic
    • Porsche Boxster
    • Suzuki Swift
    • Toyota Yaris