Mazda on top of the world
The New York car awards are more than just a popularity contest, writes PAULGOVER
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.