media update's Adam Wakefield was there to see the Opal Astra 1.4T beat off strong competition from the likes of Volkswagen, Toyota, Renualt, Jaguar, Hyundai, Honda and Audi to claim the 2017 WesBank South African Car Of The Year title

What the Wesbank South African Car Of The Year Award stands for 

Prior to the awards, around 450 guests arrived at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit as the sun was setting over northern Johannesburg, the CBD shimmering in the distance as glasses clinked and old friends and colleagues caught up with one another.

After proceeding into the venue hall, with ample seating, drinks and food supplied for those in attendance, SABC TV and media personality Leeann Manas acted as MC for the evening. Manas welcomed guests and nominees, before handing over to the chairperson of the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists, Bernard Hellberg Jnr, who spoke about the challenges facing both motoring journalism, and the motoring industry in South Africa.

Reminding all present that traditional media was far from a spent force, Hellberg Jnr stressed the importance of the Guild maintaining the high standard of journalism that reflects what the Guild stands for, and what the awards stand for.

Hellberg Jnr was followed by WesBank CEO Chris de Kock, who complemented the Kyalami circuit as an "amazing facility" to host what he called the leading motoring event of the year.

De Kock noted that the high pace of change and innovation within the motoring industry is what made it exciting. The industry was faced with new challenges this century, not least the amount of energy being wasted by internal combustion engines. De Kock said alternative energy vehicles are "destined to solve this problem", with the "business case for electric cars growing by the day".

"South Africa will not be left behind when this new electric technology takes over from the combustion engine."

After De Kock concluded his remarks, a dinner break was held before Manas took the stage to announce this year's winners.

In third place was the Volkswagen Passet 2.0 Tsi R-Line DSG, which was followed by the Audi A4 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Sport S-Tronic in second place.

It was left to the Opel Astra to take the crown, further cementing its place as an award-winning vehicle after claiming the European Car Of The Year Award title last year. 

For more information, connect with the WesBank South African Car Of The Year Award on Twitter.

Read more about The South African Guild of Motoring Journalists in our article, SAGMJ and its importance for journalists: a Q&A with Eugene Herbert.