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Auto Express - - Contents - Mo­tor­ing’s most out­spo­ken and opin­ion­ated colum­nist sounds off

Mike Ruther­ford on why JLR should win World Car of the Year again

BAD news and good news. Af­ter Jaguar de­servedly se­cured its in­au­gu­ral World Car of the Year win ear­lier this year with the F-pace, the mar­que is un­likely to be in a po­si­tion to de­fend its ti­tle in 2018. Its duo of all-new Jags – the hand­some and af­ford­able E-pace, plus the 100-per-cent elec­tric, gamechang­ing I-pace – will have to wait un­til WCOTY 2019, by which time they’ll be very much in the show­rooms and on the street.

No mat­ter. Sis­ter com­pany Land Rover will be in the hunt and hop­ing to steal the WCOTY crown for Mid­lands-based JLR, its hugely val­ued work­ers and Bri­tain PLC in 2018. In its ar­moury will be the bul­let­proof Dis­cov­ery and sub­lime Ve­lar. Look­ing at the global com­pe­ti­tion this pair of SUVS will be up against, main­land Europe (Ger­many in par­tic­u­lar) is, as ever, a clear threat.

Not nearly as threat­en­ing, though, is down-in-the-dumps North Amer­ica, where once-great names such as GM, Ford and Chrysler (but not Jeep) now strug­gle to de­sign and pro­duce enough gen­uinely new and in­ter­est­ing prod­ucts – never mind glob­ally sig­nif­i­cant and de­sir­able ones.

As for man­i­cally hec­tic Asia? True, it de­serves 10 out of 10 for pro­duc­tiv­ity, but China, Ja­pan, South Korea, In­dia and oth­ers in the re­gion seem keener on an­nu­ally churn­ing out mil­lions of largely un­der­whelm­ing ve­hi­cles than they do in de­sign­ing and craft­ing ‘best in the world’ mo­tor cars like, er, Jaguar.

With all this in mind, the very Bri­tish Range Rover Ve­lar has to be one of the favourites to suc­ceed the quintessen­tially English Jaguar F-pace as WCOTY win­ner in 2018. (For the full list of con­tenders, see our ex­clu­sive news story on Page 19.)

If that World Car of the Year ti­tle is the big one, the World Ur­ban Car of the Year con­test will host the fiercest scrap ever. All-new ver­sions of the Ford Fi­esta, Kia Pi­canto, Nis­san Mi­cra, SEAT Ibiza, Suzuki Swift, VW Polo and other ac­ces­si­ble, af­ford­able and in­creas­ingly de­sir­able city cars and su­per­mi­nis go head-to-head for the global ‘ur­ban king’ crown.

Th­ese are among the best-value, most state-of-the-art cars around. Clued-up buy­ers who are smart with their hard-earned money go for in­ex­pen­sive petrol-pow­ered mo­tors such as th­ese. And rightly so. They, like the Dis­cov­ery and Ve­lar, are bril­liant, widely avail­able cars for a world whose con­sumers don’t know how lucky they are to have them.

Land Rover will be in the hunt and hop­ing to steal the WCOTY crown for JLR, its hugely val­ued work­ers and Bri­tain

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