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      12-04-2007, 01:22 PM   #1
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More Australia Awards

Looks like the new M3 is scooping up all the awards in Australia.,00.html

EUROPEAN imports dominated the new faces at Australia's Best Cars awards last night, with two BMWs, a Volkswagen and Ford's Belgian-built Mondeo among the five cars that toppled last year's winners.

BMW's M3 scooped the award for best luxury sportscar and its second-generation X5 SUV picked up the luxury 4WD prize.

Lexus and Volkswagen also won two awards each and between them scooped all the premium categories, with Mercedes-Benz and Audi going home empty-handed.

The VW Golf R32 captured the award for best sportscar, while the Lexus IS250 and GS450h held on to the luxury and prestige categories.

The other new entrants were Ford's mid-size Mondeo, which rejoined the Blue Oval range after an absence of five years, and the second-generation version of Nissan's popular X-Trail compact SUV.

"The Mondeo reflects all the shifts in the market in one car," the chief judge of Australia's Best Cars contest, Ernest Litera of the RACV, said.

"This is a vehicle that has the space and comfort we've traditionally found in a large car, and it is available with a diesel engine.

"The market is shifting to quality mid-size cars."

The Mondeo's win also underscores the shift to imports and the threat to the local industry as Ford prepares to launch a new Falcon early next year.

But in a boost for Toyota's commitment to car-making in Australia, its Aurion repeated last year's success in the large car category.

The move to diesels was underlined with four winners among the 12, including the Mondeo, while the only hybrid winner was the Lexus GS450h.

The Best Cars judging is now in its eighth year and more than 250 cars were tested before a final assessment of 36 finalists at the Automotive Research Centre at Anglesea, Victoria.

"These awards are not about the automotive industry - they are about the consumer," Australian Automobile Association executive director Mike Harris said.

"AAA and Australia's automotive clubs represent more than 6.5 million members and these awards provide them - and all motorists - with an independent program."

The seven repeat champions included four-time winner of the people-mover award, the Honda Odyssey.

Honda also collected the award for best mid-size car under $28,000 for its Honda Civic sedan.
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      12-04-2007, 01:40 PM   #2
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The suspense is killing me.
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