Matt Greenop: Automotive arguments

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Newsroom debates are rarely quiet affairs - and now that we've spent a few weeks celebrating this country's winners, it's time to start the arduous and often argumentative process of figuring out what the Driven Car of the Year should be. At least which vehicles we think are real contenders for The Gong.

Last year, the deserving winner was BMW's 1-Series hatchback, and its combination of an eight-speed trans, EfficientDynamics stop/start technology and a sharp price point that saw it triumph - and against some exceptionally tough competition.

The process generally kicks off with us picking the top contenders in each category - Compact, Medium, Executive, Green, SUV/Crossover, Ute, Performance and the comfiest of all, Luxury. Once that's been battled over, and we've picked the winners in each, the gloves come off and we find ourselves in the awkward position of rating radically different vehicle types against each other. It's easier said than done - opinions are varied, some are particularly stupid (not naming names), others are easy to find consensus on. We've all got our favourite types of vehicle, so some extremely robust discussion sees much gnashing of teeth and waving of arms until we eventually find a consensus. This year, we're getting the most important part of the Driven team - our marvellous readers - in on the act, and will include a People's Choice section.

We won't actually be judging Car of the Year, it will be announced in our last issue for 2012, but we thought this year we'd change things a bit.

So the Driven testing team have each elected three cars this year that have excited us - you'll see them from P6 onwards - and will run a poll on nzherald.co.nz/driven to give you guys the chance to have your say.

These vehicles aren't necessarily all going to make the final cut, they're just what we like so far ... let us know what you think, we look forward to seeing which machines our readers really rate.

- NZ Herald

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