Kia Motor Corporation claimed two big wins at the , which saw its winners announced this morning via live stream. The company’s Telluride SUV won the top title of World Car of the Year, while its Soul EV claimed the World Urban Car title. Porsche, which dominated many nominations, including sweeping all three finalists in the performance car category, saw its Taycan electric sport sedan claim both the World Performance Car and the World Luxury Car titles.
The program—for which I’m a juror—announced its winners remotely instead of through its usual ceremony at the now-canceled New York International Auto Show. Fortunately, all the vehicle evaluations by the 86 global journalists who serve as jurors were buttoned up prior to the coronavirus pandemic hitting, as was the vote tabulation. The program elected to continue with the ceremony rather than attempt to reschedule it, given the unknown timeline for normalcy.
The flagship award, World Car of the Year, went to Kia, marking the first time a South Korean manufacturer claimed an award there. The high-tech and stylish Telluride SUV—a runaway hit for the carmaker based on sales and consumer feedback alone—beat out the Mazda CX-30 and the Mazda3.
The World Urban Car award also went to Kia, for its Soul EV, an electric version of its compact crossover. I’ve driven the car several times, and came away impressed by its performance, comfort, and general usability. The Soul EV beat out the the Mini Electric and the Volkswagen T-Cross, the latter of which isn’t sold in the United States.
Next came two big wins for Porsche. The Taycan—rounding out a strong showing for electric cars in this year’s program—claimed both the World Luxury Car citation—beating out the Mercedes Benz EQC and its stablemate, the Porsche 911—and it also claimed the World Performance Car nod. For that it beat out again its own stablemates, the Porsche 718 Spyder/Cayman GT4, and, again, the Porsche 911. For those curious about how a manufacturer can sweep category nominations like that, it all comes down to anonymous, independently tabulated voting. Porsche just had a supremely strong roster of products this year, and the Taycan was its biggest hit.
I’ve driven the Taycan on two occasions, including a serious thrashing on Angeles Crest Highway in New York, and found it stunningly capable, and a thrilling ride from start to finish. I sometimes quibble with my fellow jurors about the final selections, but this is one of those times when I wholeheartedly agree. The Taycan is an exceptional product, engineered to the nines and a Porsche to the bone.
The final category is the World Car Design of the Year. This year the title goes to the spry little Mazda3, which debuted in redesign form last year. It beat out the edgy Peugeot 208 and the powerhouse Porsche Taycan for the design win this year. This category is unique in that the short-list was compiled by a panel of seven automotive design experts from around the world, including Ian Callum, Gordon Murray, and Shiro Nakamura. The Mazda3 brings an exceptionally sophisticated and sleek design to the value-car category, something that has long been missing in cars that tend to be functional and economical. My own time with the car showed that it punched well above its weight not only in appearance, but in performance and quality. It’s in my view the best “value” car you can buy today.
The award judging process took place over several months, with KPMG tabulating the vote results. Cision Insights and Autoneum additionally surveyed the jurors to produce its Global Trends Report, also released today. The program is sponsored by Autoneum, Brembo, Cision Insights, KPMG, Newspress, the New York International Auto Show, and ZF.