How Women’s World Car of the Year Is Equalising The Motor World
by Sue Baker
Source: Womens World COTY
Those who spend their working lives writing about cars tend to be a rather testosterone-fuelled lot. Motoring journalism is full of wannabe-Clarksons with very strong petrolhead tendencies and Ferrari aspirations on a Ford Focus budget.
Even today, the majority of motor journalists are of the male gender. But not all – there are a few fantastic female motoring writers muscling in on the scene. Happily, there are plenty more now than when I first started as an automotive journalist, and often found myself being the only female on a car launch press trip.
Even so, it is somewhat bizarre that while almost half of all UK driving licence holders are women, their numbers are still so poorly represented amongst those who cover car news and write road test reports. We females remain a relatively rare breed on the motoring journalism scene and are hugely outnumbered by our male colleagues.
That is really no excuse, though, for a situation that prevailed as recently as five years ago.
World Car of the Year Awards
Back in 2009, someone suddenly noticed that the jury of the US-based World Car of the Year awards was entirely male. Not one female was included in the long list of judges. And so, that iniquity was the incentive for the formation of another, unrelated organisation: Women’s World Car of the Year.
The brainchild of New Zealand-based motoring writer Sandy Myhre, it was borne from that sense of injustice and has grown over the past five years to become home to an internationally respected panel. It comprises 23 female motoring journalists from 16 countries, from New Zealand to the US, and spanning every continent.
Britain is well represented. I am one of four UK-based judges, with three of us in England and one in Scotland. The jury of WWCOTY votes annually on the year’s release of new cars on a set of ten criteria. These range from drive quality to practicality, and include value for money, comfort, space and storage, fuel efficiency and other factors such as wow factor and sex appeal.
The voting covers six categories of cars, from budget and family models to sports and luxury ones, plus SUVs and green models, with the highest scoring car from all the categories chosen as the overall winner.
The Results Are In
Last year the winning car was an eminently practical, fuel efficient little hatchback: the Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost. Ford was so delighted with its success that it invited the judging panel to Cologne to visit its engineering centre and present the victory trophy to its European chief executive, Barb Samardzich. Yes, the big cheese at Ford of Europe is a woman.
This year’s Women’s World Car of the Year awards have just been announced, with a rather different result. The model that percolated to the top of the pile this time is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class; a car that is just about as clever and technology-packed as you can currently find.
So which cars won in each category? The clear winner in the Budget Car voting was the Honda Jazz, and there was another clear victor in the Green Car voting: the Tesla Model S, the most convincing electric car currently available, albeit at a high price.
The Family Car winner was the Audi A3 by a narrow margin, just ahead of the Volkswagen Golf SV; and in the Sports Car category the Audi S3 was victorious, just ahead of the BMW M4. The closest vote of all was the SUV award. It was victory for the excellent Range Rover Sport, by a whisker in front of the Porsche Macan. Mercedes’ S-Class won the Luxury Car award, beating the Audi A8.
Although not part of the official results, the international panel of judges also chose their dream car from the year’s crop of new models. Here in the UK we can take national pride in the result. Chosen by Women’s World Car of the Year judges as the model they would most like to run away with: the Jaguar F-Type Coupe. That’s quite a coup for us Brits. It is also a sign that women motoring writers tend to be petrolheads too.
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