Besides preparing to make a splash with debuts at the New York Auto Show, automakers eagerly await the announcement of World Car Award winners on Day Two of the annual event. Journalists from around the globe vote on what they consider to be the best each year in five categories: World Luxury Car, World Green Car, World Performance Car, World Car Design of the Year, and, for all the marbles, World Car of the Year.
In 2015, Mercedes-Benz had to like its chances with a finalist in each of the five categories. The luxury brand’s lineup was led by the new C-Class that appeared in the final three for two awards, including the World Car of the Year honor. Rival BMW also had good odds of taking home a prize with appearances in three categories as a finalist, and the i8 on the short list for two awards.
Here are the five winners of the World Car Awards for 2015.
2015 World Luxury Car: Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe
For decades, the Mercedes S-Class has been the standard in the luxury class, and the new range-topping coupe has lived up to the tradition. Gorgeous to look at and possessing the brand’s most advanced technology, the S-Class Coupe likely wowed judges, taking into account the importance of connectivity as well as style in modern luxury cars. (The BMW i8 and Range Rover Autobiography Black LWB were the other finalists.)
Then there’s the driving experience. Using 449 horsepower, drivers can accelerate to 60 miles per hour from a standstill in a comfortable 4.5 seconds. No less important is the fact this car is a coupe. For lovers of classic Cadillacs (and the elegant Elmiraj concept), Mercedes-Benz showed that bringing such a car to production doesn’t have to be a dream. Stuttgart is happy to oblige today.
2015 World Green Car: BMW i8
The BMW i8 might not seem like the average green car, but the automaker’s investment in carbon fiber materials and sustainable production has paid off in several ways. Last year’s World Green Car winner was the BMW i3. In 2015, the second entry of the i Series takes the prize among finalists that included the Kia Soul EV and plug-in hybrid Golf GTE.
The tech-heavy i8 can get the equivalent of 76 miles per gallon without compromising on performance in the slightest. Able to reach 60 miles per hour from a standstill in 4.2 seconds, this car is a true beast in the green car space. BMW has had to ramp up production on multiple occasions to meet consumer demand despite its $136,500 price tag.
2015 World Performance Car: Mercedes-AMG GT
Mercedes turned to its performance team in Affalterbach to get its latest supercar just right, and World Car judges considered the collaboration a success. The Mercedes-AMG GT beat out the Jaguar F-Type R Coupe and the BMW M4 Coupe for the World Performance Car prize at the NYIAS.
Sporting a lightweight design to match its 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, the “base” GT sports 456 horsepower and 433 pound-feet of torque. That setup allows it to hit 60 miles per hour from a standstill in just 3.9 seconds. For U.S. consumers hungry to get their hands on a smaller answer to the GT S, you’ll have to wait until the spring of 2016.
2015 World Car Design of the Year: Citroën C4 Cactus
Citroën, the French automaker that does not sell cars in the U.S., has produced some interesting vehicles with its Cactus design. Featuring bumps on side panels that protect against scrapes along with remarkable efficiency, judges decided it was worthy of the 2015 World Car Design of the Year.
The C4 Cactus, which is capable of 91 miles per gallon performance on the European cycle, beat out the Volvo XC90 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class for the award. With a base price below $19,000 in the UK, it is easy to see the C4 Cactus having a following in the U.S., but that won’t happen anytime soon.
2015 World Car of the Year: Mercedes C-Class
How competitive have German luxury brands become? The biggest indicator may be the level of care and attention to detail Mercedes devoted to the new C-Class, the brand’s best-selling line. With BMW and Audi (winner of the 2014 World Car of the Year) continuing to apply pressure, Mercedes engineers came up with a C-Class that is more spacious and drives better while reducing the car’s weight and improving its style.
With the 2015 World Car of the Year award now under its belt, it’s safe to say the team in Stuttgart succeeded in what it set out to accomplish. Mercedes just set a brand sales record in the U.S. in 2014. Armed with three World Car awards in five categories and a record first quarter in 2015, there is no telling how high the automaker can soar in the coming months.