VW Ups the ante for the small car segment

Annual World Car awards announced

The New York International Auto Show is the biggest attended motor exhibition in the United States and second biggest in the world. It is a fitting setting each Easter for the announcement of the World Car awards, and, having the honour to represent Ireland on the World Car jury, I was there to report on big event, writes Padraic Deane, our motoring correspondent of long-standing who represents Ireland on the World Car jury.

The annual World Car awards have become one of the world's most prestigious, credible, and significant programmes of its kind. The awards reflect the reality of the global marketplace, as well as recognize and reward automotive excellence on an international scale. The awards are intended to complement, not compete, with existing national and regional programmes such as the Continental Irish Car of the Year awards.

The awards are administered by a non-profit association, under the guidance of a steering committee of preeminent automotive journalists from Asia, Europe, and North America. The awards are not in any way influenced by any publication, auto show, carmaker, or other commercial enterprise.

When small won really big in New York

For the third time in the recent history of the awards, a Volkswagen was declared the World Car of the Year. The new Volkswagen Up followed the consecutive wins by the Polo in 2010 and the Golf Mark VI which won the title in 2009.

The Volkswagen Up was chosen from an initial entry list of 34 new vehicles from all over the world, then a short list of 10, before three finalists were chosen: the Volkswagen Up, the BMW 3 Series, and the Porsche 911. The outgoing title winner and World Car of the Year last year was the Nissan Leaf.

This is the second consecutive year BMW had a model in the top three position and the third time since 2005. Interestingly, BMW won the World Car of the Year title with the previous generation 3-Series back in 2006. In a vox pop among a small number of jurors, the new 3-Series came out as favourite to win, but it was displaced in the big vote that really mattered by the small car that made it really big in New York.

Dr Martin Winterkorn, chairman of the board of management of Volkswagen AG, said” “This award shows once again that in the Up our designers and engineers have created a vehicle that has been thought through in minute detail - a vehicle that sets standards in its class for efficient use of space, safety, motoring fun and environmental compatibility.”

The World Car Awards jurors said: “The little Volkswagen Up has altered what we have come to expect from the city car segment. Of note are the responsive steering, sophisticated suspension setup, new efficient engines and the quality of materials and finish. Never before in this economy segment have owners felt so premium. Look for every builder of city cars to up its game just to compete with the new Volkswagen.”

To be eligible for the overall World Car award, the candidates must become available for sale on at least two continents during the period beginning January 1, 2011 and ending May 30, 2012. Vehicles are selected and voted on by an international jury panel comprising 64 top-level automotive journalists from 25 countries around the world.

The Up recently went on sale here in Ireland from €10,995 ex-works.

Range Rover Evoque is the 2012 World Car Design of the Year

The Range Rover Evoque was declared the 2012 World Car Design of the Year.

The World Car Design of the Year award highlights new vehicles with innovation and style that push established boundaries

In a long list of hopefuls this year, 46 candidates were eligible for the honour of being the 2012 World Car Design of the Year. Those candidates may be on the overall World Car of the Year list, or may be included as a stand-alone entry provided the vehicle is introduced and available for sale in at least one major market during the period beginning January 1, 2011 and ending May 30, 2012

A design panel consisting of five highly respected world design experts was asked to first review each candidate, and then establish a short-list of recommendations for the jurors.

The experts had much to say about the impressive design of the Range Rover Evoque, with Sam Livingstone (director of the consultancy Car Design Research, senior tutor in vehicle design at the Royal College of Art, and associate editor of Car Design News ) summing up: "A totally fresh take on SUV-crossover that also delivers unquestionably on being from the long lineage of RangeRover.”

The 64 World Car awards jurors voted on the experts’ recommendations in February and their ballots were tabulated by the international accounting firm KPMG.

The Citroen DS5 and the Volkswagen Up were the other two top three contenders for the award. The Aston Martin Rapide was the outgoing holder of the title.

Interestingly, this is the fifth time Citroen was a top three finalist in World Car Design of the Year, and it has been in the top three category in five out of the last seven years. Citroen also won the title with the C4 back in 2006. But this year, the Range Rover Evoque emerged victorious.

Gerry McGovern, Land Rover design director and chief creative officer, who led the design team, told the Advertiser: "We are honoured the Range Rover Evoque has been named 2012 World Car Design of the Year. This prestigious accolade recognizes the overwhelmingly positive response we've received to the Evoque's bold, dramatic design. It is a car that truly resonates on an emotional level."

The Evoque is on sale here in Ireland from €27,960 ex-works.

Mercedes-Benz S 250 CDI BlueEfficiency is World Green Car 2012

Also at the New York International Auto Show, the Mercedes-Benz S 250 CDI BlueEfficiency was declared the 2012 World Green Car. This award is sponsored by the Bridgestone Corporation, the global tyre manufacturer, represented here by Bridgestone Ireland.

The Mercedes-Benz S 250 CDI BlueEfficiency was chosen from an initial entry list of 23 new vehicles from all over the world, then a short list of 10, before the three finalists, the Mercedes-Benz S 250 CDI BlueEfficiency, the Ford Focus electric, and the Peugeot 3008 hybrid, were selected.

This is the second time in World Green Car history that a Mercedes-Benz technology has won this prestigious honour. The E320 Bluetec technology was the 2007 World Green Car award winner. And this is the second time Mercedes-Benz technology has made it to the top three position.

Dr Thomas Weber, board of management, responsible for group research and Mercedes-Benz Cars development, said: “The highly efficient gasoline and diesel engines in the S-Class show that our customers can drive a luxury vehicle with a clear conscience. The S250 CDI is the most impressive example with a fuel consumption of only 5.7 l per 100km - the most fuel-efficient luxury sedan in the world."

To be eligible for the 2012 World Green Car award, a vehicle had to be new, or substantially revised, in production and introduced for sale or lease to the public in quantities of at least 10 in at least one major market during the period beginning January 1, 2011 and ending May 30, 2012. Tailpipe emissions, fuel consumption, and use of a major advanced power plant technology (beyond engine componentry ), aimed specifically at increasing the vehicle's environmental responsibility, were all taken into consideration.

Due to the complexity of some of the 'green' technologies, three green experts were appointed by the World Car awards steering committee to review all documentation and specs associated with each candidate.

The experts commented: "This is the first four-cylinder S-Class in the 60-years history of the legendary model. Powered by a 204hp diesel turbo producing 500Nm, this S-Class develops ample power from the world's cleanest diesel, while the incorporation of a start-stop system means that this car produces an outstanding 149g/km of CO2."

The Chevrolet Volt was the outgoing World Green Car from last year. Unfortunately, the Mercedes-Benz S 250 CDI BlueEfficiency is not currently available in right-hand-drive, but it is very likely to arrive early next year when the new S-Class is launched.

Porsche 911 named 2012 World Performance Car as founder dies

Finally, the Porsche 911 was declared the 2012 World Performance Car in New York. And in an amazing coincidence, Professor Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, the original creator of the Porsche 911 and honorary president of the supervisory board of Porsche AG, died on the same day as the announcement.


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