In a close battle, Mazda’s MX-5 held onto its narrow lead to beat the fast-finishing Honda S660 mini-sports car to win the Car of the Year Japan award.
Mazda MX-5 chief engineer Nobuhiro Yamamoto leads his designers, engineers and media team in celebrating the roadster’s car of the year victory.
At an award ceremony held at the Tokyo International Exchange Center in Tokyo Bay, the MX-5 sports car tallied 442 votes, pipping the Honda S660 mini-coupe by 41 votes when the last of the 60 jurors' votes were read out. The BMW 2-Series, which finished in third place, totalled 177 votes to pick up the Import Car of the Year gong.
This win gives the Hiroshima based carmaker back-to-back car of the year trophies after it captured the major prize last year for the Mazda 2.
In accepting the award, Mazda’s vice president in charge of product planning and head of the company’s SkyActiv technology R&D, Kiyoshi Fujiwara, said: “We went through some tough times during the financial crisis and 2011 earthquake, but we stuck to our founding principles and created a winning formula. We think the jurors’ response to our MX-5 shows that sports cars are making a strong comeback in Japan. This award means a lot to our development team.”
A quick examination of the results shows just how close the voting progressed until the winner was finally announced. The Mazda MX-5 polled the maximum ten votes from twenty-five of the sixty jurors while the Honda S660 picked up ten votes each from twenty two jurors. Each juror is allocated 25 votes, must give 10 votes to their most highly evaluated model and spread their remaining 15 votes among their next best four cars.
The Suzuki Alto picked up the Small Mobility award, while the Tesla Model S, entering the award process for the first time in Japan, won the Innovation award. A split in the voting between several sporty models including the MX-5, S660 and Model S saw no model gain the necessary 200 votes to win the Emotional award, so that trophy was not awarded this year.
The Car of the Year Japan steering committee’s Special Award was presented to two companies this year. The first award went to Japan’s largest car importer Yanase, an acknowledgement of its 100th year in promoting import car culture nationwide. The second trophy was presented to the Toyota Mirai – which did not meet the criteria – to enter the main award, for its technological achievement in advancing the spread of hydrogen powered fuel-cell vehicles.