Held at New York City’s Javits Center, the 2012 International Auto Show has something for autophiles of all lifestyles and tastes. Vehicles range from ridiculously economical and efficient to outrageously expensive, powerful, and indulgent. Essentially, the cars on display cover the spectrum from green to mean.
The high point of the show is the announcement of the best-in-world-class vehicles in four categories: World Green Car of the Year, World Car Design of the Year, World Performance Car of the Year, and World Car of the Year. Each category is narrowed down to three or four finalists, chosen by the most knowledgeable and respected automotive experts/journalists from around the globe. This year’s choices held a few surprises.
World Green Car of the Year
Having nothing to do with the vehicle’s color, the title ‘Green Car’ refers to fuel and power efficiency as well as environmental impact, i.e., noise, air pollution, etc.
To vie for the 2012 World Green Car award, a vehicle must be either new/unique or a significantly revamped version of an existing model, in current production, and offered for sale or lease during the period beginning January 1, 2011 to May 30, 2012. Judges consider tailpipe emissions, fuel consumption, and efficient use of power (electrical) technology.
Out of three finalists¾the Mercedes-Benz S 250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY, Ford Focus Electric, and the Peugeot 3008 Hybrid¾the winner is the Mercedes-Benz S 250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY.
According to the three judging green experts¾Phil Berg (USA) contributor to GreenFuelsForecast.com, DieselForecast.com, HydrogenForecast.com, PopularMechanics.com, AutoWeek, Car, and Driver, Dean Slavnich (Europe) editor of Engine Technology International (ETi) and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International (E&H), for the past five years, and Tadashi Tateuchi (Asia) creator and chairman of the Japan Electric Vehicle (EV) Club, juror on the Japan Car of the Year panel, and contributor to Car Graphic magazine and the Japan Automobile Federation's monthly magazine¾“This is the first 4-cylinder S-Class in the 60-year history of the legendary model. Powered by a 204hp diesel turbo producing 500Nm, this S-Class develops ample power from the world’s cleanest diesel, while the incorporation of a start-stop system means that this car produces an outstanding 149g/km of CO2.”
World Car Design of the Year
The World Car Design of the Year category highlights new vehicles displaying both design innovation and flair for style that push current boundaries. This year, 46 eligible candidates found themselves under the microscopes of five world design experts: Masatsugu Arimoto, chairman of the Japan Auto Colour Award program and a juror on Car Styling's "Car Design Awards"; Silvia Baruffaldi, Managing Editor of Auto & Design magazine; Gernot Bracht, former designer at Renault who now teaches at the Pforzheim design school in Germany; Sam Livingstone, Director of the consultancy Car Design Research, Senior Tutor in Vehicle Design at the Royal College of Art, and Associate Editor of Car Design News; and Tom Matano, Executive Director, School of Industrial Design at the Academy of Art University, San Francisco.
The envelope please: Range Rover Evoque declared 2012 World Car Design of the Year.
As per the experts: Masatsugu Arimoto says, “Taut lines and clean surfaces suggest designer’s conviction to create simple yet emotional product. This must be one of the best examples of so called “less is more” design norm”. “True to the concept car it derives from, it is a contemporary automotive design masterpiece. Besides not having equals on the markets, it is able to deliver the Land Rover DNA in a more compact, sporty body style. A premium product without the bad habit of showing off”, states Silvia Baruffaldi. Sam Livingstone adds, “A totally fresh take on SUV–crossover that also delivers unquestionably on being from the long linage of RangeRover”.
World Performance Car of the Year
Sports-car aficionados know that World Performance Car award candidates deliver overt sports and power performance while also having to meet the same requirements of the World Car of the Year award. Additionally, they must have a minimum annual production rate of five-hundred (500) vehicles. World Performance Car entries are selected and voted on by 64 noted automotive journalists from 25 countries, each appointed by the World Car Steering Committee based on his or her expertise, experience, credibility, and influence. The contenders were the Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4, the McLaren MP4-12C, and the Porsche 911.
Drum roll please: the Porsche 911 was declared the 2012 World Performance Car.
The jurors concur, “The all-new Porsche 911 Carrera and Carrera S have impressed our expert jury with leaps in innovation and risk-taking design choices while at the same time maintaining and improving upon the driving thrills we look for in any Porsche two-door”.
WORLD CAR OF THE YEAR
Candidates for World Car of the Year are selected and voted on by an international jury panel comprised of 64 automotive journalists from 25 countries. Each juror drives and evaluates vehicles regularly. To be eligible for the award, the vehicles must become available for sale on at least two continents during the period beginning January 1, 2011 and ending May 30, 2012.
Chosen from an initial entry list of 34 vehicles, the winner for 2012 is the Volkswagen Up! The German car trumped its two closest competitors: the BMW 3 Series and the Porsche 911.
The jurors voiced, “The little Volkswagen Up! has altered what we have come to expect from the city-car segment. Of note are the responsive steering, sophisticated suspension setup, new efficient engines and the quality of materials and finish. Never before in this economy segment have owners felt so premium. Look for every builder of city cars to up its game just to compete with the new VW”.
There you have it. Until next year, drive fast, efficient, bold, brave, and radical, but most of all safe……hey, give it your best shot.