Across the media, and around the world, there is no shortage of awards for the best new car. Most are judged by motoring writers, who are in the fortunate position of being able to drive and make informed assessment of the constant stream of new models that appear on a weekly basis as the year progresses.
Women’s World Car of the Year 2015
Most of these COTY – Car of the Year – awards are somewhat inevitably dominated by a male viewpoint. Rather unsurprisingly, even 15 years into the 21st century, the majority of auto journalists are men. The exception is the 20-strong panel, representing 14 countries across the globe from the United States to New Zealand, of Women’s World Car of the Year. I’m one of two UK judges.
This year’s result has just been announced. It’s a worthy winner: the new Volvo XC90. The big hunky Volvo is an immensely capable car in a category that has endeared itself to car buyers in Europe and across the world. The rugged practicality and elevated driving position of an SUV-crossover has proved particularly popular with female drivers, who find it empowering to drive at the same eye level as white van man.
All the new models
The latest XC90 is the second generation of a car that has been very significant for the Swedish car maker. That was underlined by Hakan Samuelsson, the president and chief executive of Volvo Car Group, who said at the time of its arrival that the company was not just launching a car, but re-launching the Volvo brand.
Its choice as the supreme winner of the 2015 Women’s World COTY title does not mean it has been voted for as a ‘woman’s car’, any more than most other such awards choose a car just for men. Together with all my fellow judges, I compare and assess all the eligible cars based on my experience and knowledge as a motoring journalist, being in the fortunate position of having access to driving over 100 different new cars a year.
Road to the winner
We’re all keen drivers and car enthusiasts, but being female we’re not testosterone fuelled or performance-obsessed. How well a car drives is always the prime consideration, but also important are a range of other aspects. So judging is based on engineering, appearance, comfort, storage and value for money.
The WWCOTY judging process takes place over several months. It starts with a list of the year’s eligible cars, from which a core team of jury members compile official shortlists for each of the categories, from budget to luxury, with family, SUV-crossover, performance and green in between. Then the 20-strong panel of judges awards points for each of the judging criteria, to whittle down the shortlisted cars to a winner in each category.
Here they are: Budget car – Toyota Auris, Family car – Renault Espace, SUV-Crossover – Volvo XC90, Performance – Mercedes-Benz AMG GT, Green – BMW i8, Luxury – Mercedes-Benz S-Class. A further vote decides the overall winner from those six, and it was a clear victory for the Volvo.