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Behind the scenes of Chasing Cars Car of the Year 2022


We jump away from the camera and look at what made up the inaugural Chasing Cars COTY 2022

It all began a (relatively) short time before Chasing Cars’ first-ever Car of the Year was due to start. Discussions about which cars were worthy of inclusion – or even eligible for judging – had been going on for months, but stitching the entire event together happened in a matter of weeks.

Under the supervision of editor Tom Baker and deputy editor Nathan ‘Ponch’ Ponchard, planning commenced for what would be the biggest undertaking in Chasing Cars history – a select bunch of 39 vehicles set to be scrutineered, stress-tested, and critiqued over a seven-day period in the beautiful Australian Capital Territory. 

But getting there would need an incredible amount of planning in a short space of time. Could we pull it off?

The Chasing Cars dream team!

The road to Car of the Year 2022

Office coordinator James Lisle, along with Ponch and TB, worked to find the best cars of the past 12 months that had really impressed the Chasing Cars road-test team. It was tricky with so many vehicles to choose from, but the team eventually shortlisted 20 individual models, spanning 39 variants in total, to invite to our inaugural COTY event.

Within no time at all, the week of COTY arrived. The team packed up a Hyundai Staria people mover that was supplied to us as a support vehicle for the week, and it really came in handy – not just for ferrying people but also for storing copious amounts of camera gear! 

So with a personnel of 10 passionate car nuts, a tonne of equipment, a tonne of luggage – and just enough room to satisfy Ponch’s coconut water addiction – COTY went full steam ahead.

We had gun videographer Eddie for the event, and now he is full-time with CC!

Most of us started with a three-hour drive from Sydney to Canberra, apart from the lovely Melissa Ong – our guest judge who flew in from her home in Melbourne – and Ponch, who flew in from Adelaide after attending another car launch (it’s a tough life!). We were also lucky to be joined by freelance videographers Eddie Yabsley, Aaron Wishart and staff videographer and editor Alek Hoskins. As for accommodation, we set up camp in the inner-city suburb of Kingston, offering loads of places to eat, get coffee, and unwind in the little time we weren’t working flat-out on COTY.

Before the event began and the arrival of the judges, the Chasing Cars logistics team consisting of James Lisle, Tom Place and myself, Zak Adkins, took delivery of 39 cars in a single day while managing the trucks transporting our precious cargo. Photos were taken of every car, odometers were recorded, condition reports were completed, and later, once the dust had settled, the cars were washed ready for filming and driving.

Tom Place and myself achieved a Chasing Cars car-washing record, with 14 cars fully cleaned in around four hours. Our backs were sore, our bodies weak, but we did what we could to make everything pretty for the judges!

Editor and founder Tom Baker commanding his people

The logistics team also conducted tyre-pressure monitoring, installed baby seats and inserted the Chasing Cars soccer balls to all 20 models on test, and recorded them in a spreadsheet for safe keeping.

Let me tell you, by the time nightfall came each day, everyone was exhausted! 

The setting of the event and testing in Canberra

For the first three days, the Chasing Cars team was based at the Sutton Road Driving Training facility which features a purpose-built handling circuit. This track was developed many years ago to test the durability of new vehicles, as well as how well they could handle different types of corners and undulations in the road surface. The circuit has various twists and turns, bumps and rises, and provides the perfect opportunity to explore the intricacies of a car’s steering, handling, braking and safety systems. 

BMW M240i xDrive coupe 2022
The beautiful BMW M240i xDrive, my favourite car at the event

For the final two days, the Chasing Cars team was based out of the Cotter Dam area, around 30 minutes outside of Canberra. The roads leading from the Cotter area are some of the finest in the country, and were thankfully pretty quiet during our time there. The logistics team spent the majority of the days at Cotter ferrying cars to the location and ensuring that they were ready to use for the judges’ road-loop testing … plus inevitable food and caffeine runs. 

The road loop was critical to find out how well a car could perform for everyday driving in everyday conditions – both at town speeds and across hugely varied, challenging terrain. The judges were busy for the two days analysing how the various cars could adapt to these driving conditions while revelling in the thrill of winding and twisty country roads. The logistics crew did their best to keep up with the busy schedule … but still had an amazing time doing so, driving some of the year’s most cracking cars. 

COTY 2022 Competitors
Setting up the beautiful hero shot took a lot of organising

A particular highlight for me during COTY was coming down a mountain pass near Cotter in a beautiful purple BMW M240i xDrive following John Law in the twin-turbo V6 Genesis GV70. It was at that moment I realised I had the best job in the world, with the M240i hunkering down through tight bends and powering out of them with a huge amount of thrust thanks to its 285kW turbocharged straight-six, as well as confidence. I was later nicknamed ‘the BMW 2 Series man’ by editor and founder Tom Baker … even though I’m sure I’d be objective if I was road-testing one!

Reflection on the mighty event 

It’s not every day you get to experience 39 different cars over the span of a week. Car of the Year 2022 was truly a special and memorable event, even though at times we were tired and overworked. It was a huge undertaking for such a small team, but somehow, we did it and succeeded at the same time. The event ran smoothly (mostly) and credit goes to everyone involved, from the photographers and videographers to the judges and the logistics crew. A big thanks goes to our supportive and amazing colleagues from Budget Direct who helped COTY become what it is today by funding this fabulous event! 

The lovely Mel and Johnny walking in style through the cars

By now, you’ve probably watched the amazing COTY video on the Chasing Cars YouTube channel. All of what you see is the hard work of a dedicated and passionate team of car-loving individuals. A special thanks goes to Ky Riordan for his considerable time and talent in editing the entire COTY video in just over a week. We appreciate you mate and absolutely love the work you’ve done! 

Another big thanks goes to our commander and chief Tom Baker, deputy editor and motoring legend Nathan Ponchard, judge and journalist John Law, and our lovely guest judge Melissa Ong for their dedication to this event. You guys gave it your all and I think everyone who watches the video will see the passion and love you gave to this project.

The Chasing Cars team with our amazing group of cars for COTY

So what’s next, you might ask?

Chasing Cars’ Car of the Year will return for 2023 and will be bigger and better than this one, I’m sure. But stay tuned into our website and YouTube channel for more updates on future content.