Deciphering the increasingly crowded automotive landscape is difficult, especially if you’re in the market for a new car. The World Car Awards, administered by a Toronto-based non-profit and voted upon by 75 jurors (myself included) in 23 countries, cuts through the noise, putting new cars through the paces all year long before putting them up for a vote. This year’s picks were announced at the New York Auto Show last week. Here’s a closer look at the winners across six categories: design, luxury, performance, green, urban, and overall.
The Jaguar F-Pace SUV claimed a double win for World Car of the Year and World Car Design of the Year. Released last spring, the British brand’s first-ever SUV proved an instant hit and is now the bestselling vehicle in its portfolio by a wide margin.Its exceptional dynamics, daily utility, and bold design swayed the jury in favor of the performance-oriented SUV over the other finalists, the Audi Q5 and Volkswagen Tiguan compact SUVs. "The F-Pace is the first SUV that actually turns heads,” said Peter Lyon, chairman of the World Car Awards. “Many of our 75 jurors voted for the F-Pace not just because it's Jaguar’s first-ever SUV, but because the R&D team did such a great job with the vehicle's industry-leading design, sports car-like driving dynamics, well-weighted steering, high comfort levels, competitive price and superb engine range, especially the supercharged 3.0-liter with eight-speed transmission.” The F-Pace also edged out the Mercedes-Benz S-Class executive sedan and Toyota C-HR subcompact SUV for the World Car Design category, which is vetted by six design experts before the jurors vote.
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class triumphed over the the BMW 5-Series and Volvo S90 and Volvo V90 sedans for the World Luxury Car distinction. Mercedes has dominated the category in recent years, with the S-Class coupe honored in 2015 and S-Class sedan in 2014 (The BMW 7-Series executive sedan won the honor last year.) The brand has been a juror favorite in recent years: In 2015, the German automaker scored a triple win, taking home the World Car of the Year title for the C-Class compact sedan and the World Performance Car award for the AMG GT.
This year's World Performance Car award went to Porschefor the fifth time. This year, the Boxster and Cayman, based on Porsche’s legendary 718 mid-engine race cars, trumped the other category finalists: the Audi R8 Spyder and McLaren 570S. Porsche won in the title in 2014 for the 911 GT3, 2013 for the Boxster and Cayman, 2012 for the 911, and 2006 for the Porsche Cayman S.
In the environmental category, the Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla Model X may have received the lion’s share of this year’s automotive headlines for their superior electric range, but the Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid captured the honor of World Green Car. Toyota’s Mirai fuel cell vehicle won last year’s award. Meanwhile, the World Urban Car, an inaugural category marking the global importance of smaller, fuel-efficient cars, went to the BMW i3. The luxury electric vehicle, which beat the Citroen C3 and Suzuki Ignis for the title, proves that small vehicles don’t have to be cheap, undesirable, or unpleasant to drive, according to jurors.