No separating finest of this year's car crop
It's a tie. For the first time in the 16-year history of the Carsguide Car of the Year contest, the award has been shared.
Joint winners, the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 are the same car except for their badges and some options.
With a $29,990 starting price for the 86 and free servicing for three years on the BRZ, this landmark collaboration between Toyota and Subaru has given rise to the best affordable sports car in decades.
Toyota sold more than 1700 of the limited-supply cars since its mid-year release and Subaru's clever online sales program sold its allocation of 199 cars for 2012 within hours of going live.
Waiting lists for both models extend to at least mid-2013. Toyota is shipping 1600 extra cars to Australia and Subaru some 540 in an effort to cut queues.
Carsguide's panel of nine judges put 11 cars to the test, with 6000km of test driving over three days.
Six judges voted the coupes in first place, while two more placed them second.
Dubbed "the twins", the BRZ and 86 edged out the Hyundai i30, a stand-out hatchback that was unlucky to have met such formidable competition.
Three judges gave the i30 first place, all the rest second.
It easily eclipsed its closest rival, Toyota's Corolla.
Ultimately, the judging panel agreed the sports car collaboration resulted in a "ground-breaking car, regardless of the badges it wears".
The 86/BRZ undercut the previous affordable sports car benchmark, Mazda's MX-5, by as much as $13,000.
"Carsguide has confirmed the 86 is all about maximum driving pleasure lively, accessible performance and highly-engaging dynamic abilities that really get your heart pumping," Matthew Callachor, Toyota's executive director of sales and marketing said.
Subaru Australia managing director, Nick Senior, said this was the inaugural Carsguide Car of the Year win for the brand.
"We're delighted by the accolade. The joy that it brings to drivers was obviously shared by the experienced testers in the COTY contest. It's a fantastic response to an amazing car."
The sports cars' victory is all the more remarkable because 2012 has arguably been the year of the SUV.
Two SUVs, Kia's Sorrento and Honda's CR-V, were Carsguide's COTY third and fourth placegetters.
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Dead heat: The Toyota 86 and the Subaru BRZ have been crowned the year's best cars.