I can tell you an SUV is going to win the 2018 World Car Awards. What I can’t yet tell you is which one. Mazda CX-5, Range Rover Velar, Volvo XC60 – what’s your money on?
The winner will be announced this week, at the New York Auto Show, and right now, any of them are in with a shot of winning. The latest CX-5 is a cracking car to drive, with more than the odd MX-5 vibe, combined with a practical interior and efficient engines. It’s had a big lift in premium-like quality inside and, in the metal, it looks great.
Not as good as the beautiful Velar, though. Yes, a beautiful SUV. Designer Gerry McGovern’s team have sketched a stunner here, and it has the interior to match. It’s cushy to drive, a bit of an experience… but will prices be its undoing?
The Volvo XC60 isn’t particularly cheap, mind, but this too was a car I otherwise found hard to fault. It’s a genuine downsized XC90, with all that car’s luxury combined with a bit of added agility, and it makes you feel smartly, cleverly understated in that so-very-appealing modern Volvo way.
It’s a genuine three-horse battle. Remember, World Car Awards are judged on their abilities across the globe – the only automotive awards initiative to do this. That’s five continents, with more than 80 jurors. What’s a dead-cert in Europe might make far less sense in North America, or not even be sold in China.
Cars are also assessed on fitness for purpose within their own sectors. Every type of car should have a similar chance of winning, because judges are ranking it on how well it does what it was designed to do. This draws out genuinely deserving victors, rather than vanilla models that play the law of averages game.
Winners are thus true global greats. Last year’s victor, the Jaguar F-Pace, proves that. Who would argue against it? Or the year before, the Mazda MX-5 roadster? With this in mind, what’s your bet for 2018 World Car of the Year? Let us know in the comments below.
This isn’t the only award up for grabs, though. Here, we run through the other four World Car Awards gongs, and offer a few thoughts on the shortlisted three cars in each.
2018 World Car Design
- Lexus LC 500
- Range Rover Velar
- Volvo XC60
It’s got to be the Velar, hasn’t it?
2018 World Luxury Car
- Audi A8
- Porsche Panamera
- Porsche Cayenne
Tough one. The boundary-pushing A8 is the natural choice, but Porsche has upped its game with the latest Cayenne, while the Panamera is an unexpectedly plush and convincing luxury car.
2018 World Green Car
- BMW 530e iPerformance
- Chevrolet Pacifica Hybrid
- Nissan Leaf
The second-generation Nissan Leaf is in with a huge chance, because it’s such a leap on. Just don’t underestimate that supremely able BMW 5 Series plug-in, particularly as the Munich firm sells more electrified cars than anyone else…
2018 World Urban Car
- Ford Fiesta
- Suzuki Swift
- Volkswagen Polo
If the Fiesta were available in more regions, it ought to be in with a strong chance. But the Suzuki Swift is, and it’s cheaper, and it’s almost as much fun. It deserves to win – although so damn able is the new VW Polo, don’t be surprised if that noses ahead.
2018 World Performance Car
- BMW M5
- Honda Civic Type-R
- Lexus LC 500
The new BMW M5 is very impressive, but the last sliver of must-have brilliance isn’t quite there. The Lexus is lovely but is it really a performance car? Which leaves the magnificent Honda Civic Type R, the finest Civic ever to wear the famous red R badge. It’s a blast – and costs way, way less than the other two.