Mazda on top of the world

The New York car awards are more than just a pop­u­lar­ity con­test, writes PAULGOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

THE last and ar­guably most im­por­tant of the an­nual Car of the Year awards has gone to the Mazda2. The Ja­panese baby was named World Car of the Year for 2008 at the open­ing of the New York Auto Show, af­ter a global vote by 47 ju­rors from 24 coun­tries.

It fin­ished ahead of the Ford Mon­deo and Mercedes-Benz C-Class af­ter vot­ers culled from an ini­tial list of 39 con­tenders to a top 10.

It is only the fourth time the award has been made, but the Mazda2 joins three im­pres­sive ear­lier win­ners: the Audi A6, BMW 3-Se­ries and Lexus LS460.

‘‘We are hon­oured to re­ceive this pres­tige award,’’ says Kei­ichi Wak­abayashi, Mazda Cor­po­ra­tion’s gen­eral man­ager of global com­mu­ni­ca­tion plan­ning.

The World Car panel also voted on three other awards, nam­ing the Audi R8 as both the World Per­for­mance Car and World Car De­sign win­ner. The World Green Car hon­our went to the BMW 118d with Ef­fi­cient Dy­nam­ics.

The World Car awards were es­tab­lished with solid ob­jec­tives to en­sure it is more than just a pop­u­lar­ity con­test.

They are ad­min­is­tered by a non­profit as­so­ci­a­tion un­der the guid­ance of a steer­ing com­mit­tee of prom­i­nent au­to­mo­tive jour­nal­ists from Asia, Europe and North Amer­ica.

‘‘This fresh Mazda com­pact makes the first-gen­er­a­tion one-box Mazda2 fade into the mists of time even more,’’ the WCOTY ju­rors say.

‘‘The new ver­sion is ex­actly that: com­pletely new, par­tic­u­larly on the out­side. Con­sumers will be drawn to the new Mazda com­pact be­cause of its very ap­peal­ing looks and high lev­els of stan­dard equip­ment for the price.’’

The Audi R8 beat 12 con­tenders for the Per­for­mance Car award, fin­ish­ing ahead of the BMW M3 and Audi S5 coupe in a cat­e­gory that is open only to ve­hi­cles with an an­nual pro­duc­tion rate of at least 500 cars.

Pre­vi­ous win­ners in the cat­e­gory were the Audi RS4 last year and the Porsche Cay­man S in 2006.

The R8 had to beat the Mazda2 and Volvo C30 to win the World Car De­sign tro­phy, af­ter the ini­tial list of con­tenders was culled by a panel of four de­sign ex­perts. Pre­vi­ous win­ners were the Audi TT last year and the Citroen C4 in 2006.

TheBMW118d was cho­sen as the Green Car in a con­test open only to ve­hi­cles with fuel econ­omy bet­ter than 5.0 litres/100km, use an ad- vanced pow­er­plant or bet­ter the world’s tough­est emis­sion stan­dards.

The 118d’s Ef­fi­cient Dy­nam­ics tech­nol­ogy was cho­sen be­cause of the ef­fi­ciency of its 2-litre tur­bod­iesel en­gine, its brake en­ergy re­gen­er­a­tion sys­tem, elec­tric power steer­ing and auto stop-start func­tion, which to­gether im­prove its econ­omy 21 per cent to 4.5 litres/100km.

The other Green Car fi­nal­ists were the Smart ForTwo and Volk­swa­gen Pas­sat 1.9 TDI.

World champ: the Mazda2 and Kei­ichi Wak­abayashi.

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