Members of the New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild voted the Nissan middleweight the top car of 2004 in their annual award which was announced this week.
The NZ Car of the Year, voted on by more than 35 journalists who review cars for newspapers, magazines, the Internet and the broadcast media, has been awarded for the past 17 years.
It is New Zealand’s premier and only independent car award. It has no affiliation to any specific media outlet or organisation.
The Nissan Maxima was judged best among a strong and varied field of contenders, ranging from the Audi A3 to the Volkswagen Touran.
Cars which challenged it closely – listed in no particular order – included the Audi A6 executive sedan, BMW’s accomplished 1-Series small hatchback, Ford’s Territory, the Mazda 3, Subaru’s Legacy 3.0 R, the Nissan Micra, and Peugeot’s 407.
Guild members rated the 2004 Maxima scored consistently-highly in their voting.
“The 2004 Maxima is one of the new era Nissans, mixing influences from parent company Renault – especially in its adventurous styling and supple ride – with traditional Japanese engineering excellence and outstanding build quality,” says Motoring Writers’ Guild president Mike Stock. “The Nissan delivers strong performance from its 170kW version of the superb 350Z 3.5-litre V6 engine, along with excellent mechanical refinement.
“It is also competitively priced and offers good value for money.”
The Maxima is the latest in a distinguished line of mid-sized sedans to win the NZ Car of the Year award. Last year it went to Honda’s Accord Euro, and the year before to the Mazda 6.
In choosing the Car of the Year, Guild members rated cars on criteria that included performance, design, ride and handling, safety, value for money and environmental care.
“The democratic voting process, with experienced car critics from throughout the country – and from a range of age groups – participating ensures a consensus of opinion is achieved,” says Stock. “And the fact that the award is not affiliated with any particular publication or organisation means that it is absolutely free of commercial influence and is reached without fear or favour.”
The actual award, the Peter Greenslade Trophy, will be presented to Nissan New Zealand. The handsome trophy uses a Nardi steering wheel as its centrepiece.
The late Peter Greenslade was a founding member of the guild and a fierce defender of its independence.
As motoring editor of the Christchurch Press newspaper, he was one of New Zealand’s best and most respected writers on cars and motorsport.