The prestigious World Car Awards were held in New York earlier this month, shining a light on the best the automotive industry had to offer in 2017/18. Recognised as the leading ceremony of its kind the WCA’s are bestowed on the say so of storied writers from all corners of the globe.
Since its inaugural presentation in 2005 the event has garnered great respect and even greater media coverage – heightening the desire of car manufacturers to land what have become coveted prizes.
And amongst the biggest winners this time around were the UK’s very own Range Rover who scooped Design of the Year. Indeed their lauded Velvar met the necessary criteria and then some. Innovative, stylish and reasonably priced this suped-up SUV is the culmination of seven years worth of experimentation, kicked off with the original ‘Sport’ model in 2010.
For £70,000 you certainly get bang for your buck. Features include Matrix Laser-LED headlights, Touch Pro Duo Infotainment, 20 way electrically adjustable seats and rear parking sensors as standard. To help with the latter a rear-view camera is also fitted, one which can be upgraded to 360deg if opting for the SE model.
Outright park assist meanwhile is available in a HSE trim version, while the likes of privacy glass, an A fixed Panoramic Rodd and R-Dynamic Black Pack represent optional bolt-on’s for this quite brilliant four wheel drive.
Rightly proud of his work Chief Design Officer Gerry McGovern beamed: “We’re honoured that the jury recognised the tireless endeavours of our designers and engineers in delivering a vehicle with compelling design, tailored technology and relevant innovation which come together to create a vehicle of instant desirability.”
It is worth noting this is the second year in succession a British based firm has landed the creative award, Range Rover’s success following hot on the heels of Jaguar and their F-Pace twelve months prior. Such feats have led many commentators to proclaim the UK the design capital of the world. Premature? Perhaps, but undeniable is the fact American powerhouses such as Ford appear to be trailing in our wake, at least for now.
Further embarrassment came for the Michigan based automaker when – at the end of the evening – the Velvar, Mazda CX-5 and Volvo XC60 were paraded together as leading lights, the best incomings this past annum. Something that would not have gone unnoticed is the fact all three parent companies once fell under the Ford umbrella, only to be auctioned off in a bid to raise funds. None progressed as they clearly could have.
The aforementioned Volvo XC60 clinched 'Car of the Year', another SUV re-imagining the ‘family car’ tag through a mixture of mod cons and elegance. To cap a victorious night for the Swedish multinational Chairman Hakan Samuelsson took home the 'Person of the Year' gong.
Turning to performance the quickest BMW ever created predictably cleaned up. In fairness achieving 0-60 in less than 3.2 seconds was in fact just one of the reasons the M5 was heralded 'World Performance Car of the Year'. The fact they have enhanced an already revered 5-series saloon is testament to the German’s unrelenting desire to stay ahead of the curve.
Turning to 'Luxury Car of the Year' meanwhile this was bestowed on Audi’s flagship model, the A8. This latest incarnation has ratcheted up expectations when it comes to autonomy and connectivity, its touch control system alone worthy of coronation as it triumphed above Porsche double act Cayenne and Panamera.
Elsewhere the remaining two awards were split between the VW Polo and Nissan Leaf. The former was crowned 'World Urban Car of the Year', beating out stiff competition from the Fiesta and Suzuki Swift in the process. Sheer sales underline Polo popularity, no less than 17 million establishing it as one of the most successful compact cars we’ve ever seen. This reboot is unashamedly sportier than its predecessors, perhaps widening the appeal.
As for the Leaf it made history in becoming the first model to win 'World Green Car of the Year' twice, first doing so in 2011. Its impact on the environment has certainly been a positive one, 300,000 sales in less than a decade helping to reduce the carbon footprint exponentially. Improvements in this latest guise include a more conventional make-up as well as an all important increase in range, one reaching 151 miles no less.
And there you have it; the class of 2018.
Just as intriguing as the distribution of awards themselves is the fallout in the weeks and months following them. Expect reactions from US, French and Italian manufacturers in particular who now find themselves hemmed in the chasing pack. The emphasis is on them to shake things up in 2018, while British interests will be on securing a hat-trick of design crowns.