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Audi A3 wins 2014 World Car of the Year Award

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By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel

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NEW YORK, April 17, 2014. The Audi A3 was named 2014 World Car of the Year during a press conference at the New York International Auto Show today. Another division of the Volkswagen Group captured the World Performance Car of the Year, while Mercedes walked away with the Luxury Car of the Year award for the S-Class and BMW even scored twice with i3 in the Green Car and Design Car categories.

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Scott Keogh, CEO Audi of America was extremely proud to receive the award, which was presented to him during a ceremony that also celebrated the 10th anniversary for the World Car Awards. Audi has won one of the World Car Awards now seven times, the inaugural 2005 World Car of the Year, three World Performance Car titles and twoWorld Car Design of the Year titles.

This year The A3 took the laurel, leaving behind the BMW 4 Series and the Mazda3, as well as another twenty-one vehicles from the initial entry list.

The jurors were especially impressed by the A3’s superb choice of engines and four body styles, while the range also offers a premium punch in the small luxury segment. They felt to complement the manufacturer for ‘making the A3 ride like no other A3. All the old shimmer over rough surfaces has gone, replaced by a silky smooth ride that approaches limousine quality”.

Previous World Car of the Year winners are the Volkswagen Golf, the Volkswagen Up! in 2012, the Nissan Leaf in 2011, the Volkswagen Polo in 2010, Volkswagen Golf in 2009, the Mazda2 / Mazda Demio in 2008, the Lexus LS460 in 2007, the BMW 3-Series in 2006, and the Audi A6 in 2005.

The organization presented the big prize after unveiling the awards in the other four categories.

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The BMW i3 was declared 2014 World Green Car and left the Audi A3 Sportback g-tron and the Volkswagen XL1 behind on the lower steps of the podium.

The award was presented by Bridgestone Corporation’s US & Canada president Mike Martini, who said that the company feels it as a privilege to again sponsor the World Green Car award.

To be nominated for the award, a vehicle had to be all-new, or substantially revised, in production and introduced for sale or lease to the public in quantities of at least 10 in at least one major market during the period beginning January 1, 2013 and ending May 31, 2014. CO2 emission, fuel consumption and use of a major advanced power plant technology (beyond engine components), aimed specifically at increasing the vehicle's environmental responsibility, were all taken into consideration.

Due to the complexity of some of the 'green' technologies, five green experts were appointed by the World Car Awards Steering Committee to extensively review all documentation and specs associated with each candidate. They were asked to create a finalists’ short-list for review by the sixty-nine World Car Awards’ jurors in their second round of voting in February. The jurors’ ballots were then tabulated by the international accounting firm KPMG.

BMW won the 2008 World Green Car award with the BMW 118d EfficientDynamics.

More of a surprise was the fact that the BMW i3 also captured the World Car Design of the Year leaving behind the Mazda3 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The three models were declared to be finalists at the Geneva Auto Show in March out of 28 candidates.

Also for this award, the first review of each candidate was made by a panel of five highly respected (design) experts which then established a short-list of recommendations for the jurors. The experts commented that: “Unlike other BMW cars, the i3 has a boxy shape, which suggests roominess and efficiency. But it still retains BMW’s typical dynamism thanks to the larger diameter wheels and the very short overhangs both on front and rear. Besides that, the i3 expresses the sub-brand’s own character with using unique design features, including the black bonnet and the side window graphics that goes through the rear pillar. The interior is more surprising and attractive. It marks radical leap of car interior design, and it spreads as calm yet rich feeling as a modern living room.”

Previous winners of the World Car Design of the Year award were the Jaguar F-Type in 2013, the Range Rover Evoque in 2012, the Aston Martin Rapide in 2011, the Chevrolet Camaro in 2010, the Fiat 500 in 2009, the Audi R8 in 2008, the Audi TT in 2007 and the Citroen C4 in 2006.

The attendants of the event already expected the Mercedes-Benz S-Class to capture the 2014 World Luxury Car award. This is the first year for this category, which was created to acknowledge higher-priced premium models selling in more limited numbers worldwide.

The winner was chosen from an initial entry list of 10 prestigious cars from all over the world, then a short list of three finalists: the winner as well as the Bentley Flying Spur and the Range Rover Sport.

Prof. Thomas Weber, board member of Daimler AG and responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development intended to attend the ceremony but had to leave New York earlier than expected on a flight to Beijing. In a statement issued later this morning he said: “It is not only our customers who expect a new S-Class to set standards – but also the journalists," Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. "The success of the S-Class in this category makes us very proud indeed, and once more demonstrates that we have met these expectations."

The World Car jurors observed that, “Mercedes dominates the big luxury sedan market worldwide and the challenge of the sixth-generation S-Class was to be even better than the fifth-gen model. They did it by creating a car so far advanced in this segment that competitors pretty much have ceased trying to go head-to-head with the S. The exterior is completely new and the interior is spectacular on a whole new level.”

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The Porsche 911 GT3 was declared the 2014 World Performance Car, which makes it the third consecutive year that Porsche won the title and the fourth overall. Last year’s ward was won by the Boxter/Cayman, while the 911 won in 2012 and the Cayman took the title in 2006.

The GT3 was chosen from an initial entry list of twenty-six new cars from all over the world, then from a short list of three finalists: the winner as well as with two other strong contenders, the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and the Ferrari 458 Speciale. The counts of 69 jurors from all over the world formed the outcome based on the opinion that the latest 911 GT3 is 100 percent at home on any track, with fine balance and handling prowess even with the engine theoretically in the ‘wrong’ place. “Heavy aero work, the stripping down of the car’s weight, and 469 horsepower from the 3.8-liter flat-six engine, all help with lap times and launch time.”

Accounting firm KPMG collected the ballots of 69 jurors from all over the world and provided the winners in closed envelops to the steering committee of the World Car Awards. Prime Research International, a global leader in strategic communication research and consultancy, has joined forces with the World Car Awards to provide strategic studies in the fields of automotive assessment criteria and automotive awards. PRIME Research is a well-trusted research partner for the automotive industry with a broad range of automotive clients. PRIME Research sets the standard in automotive media research by providing strategic benchmark information and SWOT analyses on over 100 brands and over 10,000 different automobile models.