VOLKSWAGEN may need to build a trophy cabinet just for its World Car of the Year silverware.
In 2009 the Golf VI took the overall award, with the Polo winning in 2010, the Up! in 2012 and now the new Golf VII was announced as the 2013 World Car of the Year at the New York International Auto Show.
Automotive journalists from 23 countries — 66 of them in all — decided that it is the best of the best from all the cars launched around the globe in 2012.
When it came down to it there were just four finalists, with the Golf beating the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class, the Porsche Boxster/Cayman and the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86 for the overall award.
"Honed over seven generations since its original launch in 1974, the VW Golf is as close to the perfect hatchback design as any car company has come yet," said the official statement on behalf of the jury. "Right-sized, but spacious, practical and comfortable inside, the latest Golf has been brought up to date with a fresh if evolutionary design, a range of new engines, plus an impressive list of equipment and safety features. What’s more, it’s fun to drive. If ever there was a car for everyman, the Golf is it."
The announcement came as no surprise to most of the industry and the media and if I were a betting man then I would be putting money down on the new Golf being a strong contender for the next South African Coty title. The result was "quite predictable", said Hannes Oosthuizen, editor of Car magazine and the only Wcoty jury member from South Africa.
"There were a lot of good cars, but some of them were a bit niche," he said. "It’s a car that doesn’t necessarily show the improvements. But it is under the skin. It feels better overall, much lighter, more enjoyable to drive."
This was a view echoed by our own Lerato Matebese, who said: "It’s not surprising. The car is a premium hatch. It does a lot of things well. It’s not an exciting car, but it does little wrong. It’s a very good car." Interestingly, Lerato did question why the Audi A3 was not a joint winner, or at least a finalist, after all they are essentially the same car.
In some respects, such as engine choices, the Audi may even be seen as a better option.
One of the Golf’s rivals for the overall title was the Porsche Boxster/Cayman which, while it missed out on the top award, took home the 2013 World Performance Car trophy. Interestingly, the new Porsche 911 took this award last year and the last generation Cayman took the first ever award in 2006. It managed to fend off the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta and the Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86 to take the title.
The jurors said: "The Boxster needed to be seen as less of a fancy secretary’s car and the Cayman needed to be set loose to be an even better Porsche sports car then the iconic 911.
"In both instances: mission over-accomplished."
Jaguar’s chief designer, Ian Callum, was understandably pleased that his new F-Type took the 2013 World Car Design title. "No design project has given me greater pleasure than the creation of the F-Type," he said. "It’s a project I have looked forward to from the moment I joined Jaguar, and it’s one that’s given my team and I great satisfaction. The F-Type is a sports car that is true to Jaguar’s design values — beauty of line and purity of form."
Unlike the overall and performance titles, the judging is done slightly differently for the design and the green car awards. For the design title, 43 vehicles were selected by a panel of five design experts from around the world. They then provide a short-list of recommended choices to the jury who voted in February, bringing the finalist list down to just three; the Jaguar, the new Mazda6 and the Aston Martin Vanquish. After voting a final time, it was the new F-Type, due in South Africa later this year, which took the award.
Motor News will only be driving the car at its international launch at the end of this month, but after going through a full design brief on the car last year with Callum and his team, from a design perspective I am completely in agreement. The F-Type echoes many of the elements that made the E-Type so successful in terms of both design and character and while we wait to see just how good it is as a sports car, the attention to detail in the exterior and interior design should herald something very special.
Then there is the 2013 World Green Car award which was chosen from a list of 21 models, again selected by a panel of five green experts. In the final voting, there were three; the Tesla Model S, the Renault Zoe and the Volvo V60 plug-in hybrid. The Tesla Model S emerged as the winner and took home the silverware.
The Tesla may not be available in South Africa, but given the praise heaped on it by the panel, perhaps it should be. "It seats up to seven, is almost supercar swift, swoopily styled and recharge time apart and absurd width apart, as practical as a family sedan. It’s not cheap, but certainly isn’t expensive for what it does."