The World Car Awards are decided by a team of journalists from North America, Asia, and Europe, who decided to independently test and vote on the best cars in five different categories. After the 69 publications involved drive the vehicles and submit their recommendations, an international accounting firm tallies and submits a list of finalists. From there, a panel selects the winner of World Car of the Year in each category and announces them at the New York International Auto Show (NYIAS).
In 2014, the group was expanded from four categories to include a fifth, World Luxury Car of the Year. This latest entry adds to a field that features World Performance Car of the Year, World Green Car of the Year, World Car Design of the Year, and the consensus World Car of the Year. Here are the five winners of the 2014 World Car Awards, announced April 17 in New York.
1. Porsche 911 GT3: 2014 World Performance Car of the Year
Numerous General Motors dealers were in attendance when the World Performance Car of 2014 was announced, but the Chevy Corvette Stingray had to settle for runner-up alongside the Ferrari 458 Speciale. The Porsche 911 GT3 took the prize as the world’s top performance machine for 2014. Ironically, it was the same car that was recalled in March for a problem that was causing the engine to catch fire. Porsche plans to replace the engines in those vehicles affected.
As far as specs go, the 911 GT3 is as ferocious as one would expect in the world’s top performance car. It can produce a max 470 horsepower and hit a top speed of 195 miles per hour after going from 0 to 60 in 3.3 seconds. It starts at a base price of $130,000.
2. BMW i3: 2014 World Green Car of the Year
How hyped was the first BMW electric vehicle since its unveiling? The World Car Awards conducted extensive research to examine how much press in the electric vehicle industry was devoted to the different cars on the market. Its tally showed that 40 percent of all EV press has been going to Tesla and the BMW i3. In fact, BMW narrowly edged Tesla in the amount of press, discussion, and analysis with its BMW i3.
The World Car Award voters agreed the car lived up to the hype. Between its renewable materials and remarkably sustainable production facility in Washington state, the BMW i3 pushed the boundaries of innovation in the green car space. It’s a city car that provides a gasoline-free alternative for an increasingly urban population. In winning World Green Car of the Year, the BMW i3 beat out the Audi Sportback g-tron and the futuristic Volkswagen XL1.
3. Mercedes-Benz S-Class: 2014 World Luxury Car of the Year
Mercedes continues to apply the “best or nothing” motto to the design of its cars. World Car Award judges agreed the automaker succeeded with its 2014 Mercedes S-Class models on such a level that it deserved to be named 2014 World Luxury Car of the Year. In winning the award, the S-Class topped the Bentley Flying Spur and Range Rover Sport.
Mercedes may make the sub-$30,000 CLA and occasionally stun the world with AMG performance cars unveiled by actor Jon Hamm, but the flagship S550 is the signature Benz, which the award presenter aptly called “the dominator.”
4. BMW i3: 2014 World Design Car of the Year
If you feel like you’ve seen this car in the winner’s circle somewhere before, you’d be right. The BMW i3 took home two of the five World Car Awards in New York on April 17. On the heels of the World Green Car award, the i3 nabbed the 2014 World Design Car of the Year as well, beating out the Mazda3 and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
Auto journalists and industry insiders have declared efficiency and sustainability to be among the most important trends in cars today. Innovations (and heavy investments) by BMW in the use of carbon fiber materials for the i3 body were acknowledged as game-changing even before the panel announced the car had won the two honors at the New York Auto Show. Along with Ford’s introduction of aluminum in the body of the F-150, BMW’s shift to carbon fiber is considered a monumental act of leadership in the industry. The fact the car is made of sustainable materials in a sustainable facility and runs on an electric powertrain didn’t hurt its chances, either.
5. Audi A3: 2014 World Car of the Year
There is a clear case to be made for both the Mazda3 and BMW 4-Series, the two cars that joined this Audi on the list of finalists, but the Audi A3 claimed the top prize of 2014 World Car of the Year at the April 17 awards ceremony. With the win, German automakers made a clean sweep of the World Car Awards for the year, with Volkswagen and BMW taking two prizes apiece and Mercedes-Benz nabbing the fifth.
The German luxury brands made a huge statement by introducing models priced under $30,000 in 2013. Purists (and a current Lexus commercial) may balk at the compromise in space, power, and luxury accouterments in such models, but making a car both thrilling and affordable is a huge accomplishment. Automotive journalists from around the world decided the Audi A3 did it better than any other car.