Kia has become the first Korean manufacturer to win the World Car of the Year title. Its Telluride 7-seater premium SUV was chosen ahead of the Mazda3 and CX-30 by a jury of 86 motoring journalists, including Cars.co.za's Consumer Experience Manager, Hannes Oosthuizen, from 24 countries across the globe. The Soul EV also bagged the World Urban Car of the Year title.
The announcement would have been made at the New York Auto Show, but the event was cancelled because of COVID-19, therefore the World Car Awards judging panel announced the winners via an online presentation.
“Everyone at Kia is truly honoured to receive not just one, but two awards from the World Car Awards judging panel,” said Thomas Schemera, executive vice-president and product head of Kia Motors. “These accolades are a testament to the talents and efforts of a worldwide team, who all strive to create desirable, high-quality and practical cars that drivers love.”
The Telluride is Kia's flagship SUV offering. Kia says demand for it is so strong that the brand can't offer it in RHD guise yet.
The Telluride, which is unfortunately not offered in right-hand-drive markets (although the all-new Sorento 7-seater is scheduled to arrive in South Africa during the course of 2020), was chosen from an initial World Car of the Year entry list of 29 vehicles, which was subsequently narrowed to 3 finalists in the category, including the Mazda3 premium hatchback (a losing 2019/20 #CarsAwards premium hatchback finalist) and the CX-30 all-electric family car.
As is the case with the Telluride, the new-generation Soul EV is left-hand-drive only, but its win is significant in that the Kia was chosen ahead of the Mini Electric and Volkswagen T-Cross, which recently won its #CarsAwards category.
Consolation win for Mazda3
Mazda did not go home empty-handed from the 2020 World Car Awards, however. An expert panel including Anne Asensio, Gernot Bracht, Ian Callum, Patrick le Quément, Tom Matano, Gordon Murray and Shiro Nakamura narrowed the candidates for the World Car Design of the Year award to the Mazda3, Peugeot 208 compact hatchback and Porsche Taycan electric performance sedan. The WCOTY jury then picked the Mazda3 as the winner in the category.
The Taycan may not have won the World Car Design of the Year award, but it was a double winner on in the 2020 WCOTY programme. First, the Taycan was named the World Performance Car of the Year, which the Zuffenhausen-based firm was guaranteed to win because the 718 Spyder/Cayman GT4 and the Porsche 911 were the other finalists. Porsche had previously won the World Performance Car category in 2006, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2017.
The all-electric Porsche Taycan is scheduled to be introduced in South Africa during the second half of 2020.
Porsche's first pure EV product beat its 911 sibling and the Mercedes-Benz EQC all-electric executive SUV, which is also bound for the South African, to take the World Luxury Car of the Year title for 2020.
Previous overall winners of the World Car of the Year programme include the Audi A6 (2005), BMW 3 Series (2006), Lexus LS 460 (2007), Mazda2 (2008), Volkswagen Golf Mk6 (2009), Volkswagen Polo (2010), Nissan Leaf (2011), Volkswagen Up (2012), Volkswagen Golf 7 (2013), Audi A3 (2014), Mercedes-Benz C-Class (2015), Mazda MX-5 (2016), Jaguar F-Pace (2017), Volvo XC60 (2018) and Jaguar I-Pace (2019).
Cars.co.za's Hannes Oosthuizen has served as WCOTY jury member for South Africa from 2006 to 2013 and from 2016 to the present day.