By Marc Lachapelle
The latest version of the Volkswagen Golf, one of the most popular cars in history with more than 26 million sold to date, is the winner of the 2009 World Car of the Year award. The announcement was made in a press conference held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center on April 9, during the second media day preceding the public opening of the New York Auto Show.
The sixth generation of the Golf was voted as the most worthy by a jury of 59 journalists from 25 different countries, in the World Car awards’ sixth annual edition. Canada is represented on this jury by the program’s Co-chair and co-founder Gerry Malloy, a three-time winner of the Canadian Journalist of the year award. Beth Rhind, the WCOTY program’s Executive Manager, is also based in Ontario.
The Golf VI, which will be introduced in Canada next fall, won after two rounds of voting. Jurors had started in January with a list of 51 new vehicles eligible for the award, whittling it down to a short list of ten vehicles. The second vote led to the announcement of three finalists, in early March. The voting is secret and all ballots are tabulated by international accounting firm KPMG. The other two finalists for the overall WCOTY award were the Ford Fiesta and Toyota iQ.
The same process was used for the second annual World Performance Car award. The three finalists were the Corvette ZR1, Nissan GT-R and Porsche 911 Carrera. The trophy went to the all-wheel drive, twin-turbocharged GT-R, itself the heir of a great tradition as the latest Skyline, an illustrious family of sports cars that has long enjoyed cult status in Japan now sees its international ambitions validated by the WCOTY jury.
For the World Green Car award, given the great complexity and diversity of modern powertrain technologies, a list of 22 contenders was first established by three technical experts representing the Americas, Asia and Europe, was. Jurors then voted on this list and the award went to Honda for its hydrogen fuel cell-powered FCX Clarity sedan, currently leased to a select group and driven in real-world conditions. The FCX edged out the all-electric Mitsubishi iMiEV micro-sedan and the Toyota iQ, already on sale in Europe. The tiny iQ was the only vehicle in contention for two awards this year.
Regardless of its performance or technical attributes, styling and design are crucial elements of a car’s attraction, success and lasting appeal. To recognize this, the World awards organization has again asked a panel of four design experts to establish a short list of standouts from the original 51 eligible new vehicles. Jurors then voted and picked the Fiat 500 as World Car Design of the Year. The two other finalists were the Citroën C5 Sedan and Tourer, and the Jaguar XF. The diminutive Fiat is a modern interpretation of the original Fiat 500, launched in 1957. The modern car, launched last year, had won the 2008 European Car of the Year award.