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VW Polo Named World Car of the Year

German maker’s subsidiaries take three of four awards.

by on Apr.01, 2010

Design Chief Walter da Silva collects the World Car of the Year Trophy for the Volkswagen Polo.

It came close to being a clean sweep for Volkswagen and its subsidiaries, the German maker capturing three of the four trophies handed out in the annual World Car of the Year awards – the VW Polo taking the namesake Car of the Year honors.

The World Car of the Year awards are the result of balloting by 59 automotive journalists from around the world – tasked with the difficult challenge of picking winners who have significance beyond individual regional markets, like the U.S., Europe or Japan.  Balloting is weighted to minimize the influence of any one region, organizers note.

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That worked out well for Volkswagen, which grabbed the first of the awards handed out at the New York International Auto Show, the Green Car of the Year, with its subcompact Polo TDI diesel.  That was a doubly significant victory.  First, the VW offering was up against two hybrids, the new Honda Insight and the Toyota Prius, the world’s most popular gasoline-electric model.  Meanwhile, diesels are little more than an also-ran technology in the key American market.

Tom Peters, design director for the Chevrolet Camaro, named World Car Design of the Year.

But VW has been pressing diesel technology in all its markets, including the U.S., design chief Walter da Silva calling it, “the best (technology) for today” as he came to the stage to collect the Green Car award.

The automaker was back at the podium just moments later, this time with Johan de Nysschen, CEO of Audi of America, collecting the World Performance Car of the Year trophy.  The automaker bested the new Ferrari California, as well as the Porsche 911 GT3

(Not-so-coincidentally, de Nysschen was the recipient of a separate Green Car of the Year award, presented at the Los Angeles Auto Show, in December, for another Volkswagen AG diesel, the Audi A3 TDI.)

To the relief of VW’s many competitors anxiously waiting for the results of the WCOTY balloting, there was a brief pause between the German maker’s moments of celebration.  Chevrolet took top honors for the Camaro, a significant feat considering the pony car is really just a North American offering, and up against alternatives like the Kia Soul and Citroen C3 Picasso.  But Camaro’s design director, Tom Peters, noted that his team included stylists from all over the world.

Audi of American CEO Johan de Nysschen hoists the trophy for the Audi R8 V10's win as World Performance Car of the Year.

Volkswagen was back to pick up the final trophy, for World Car of the Year, besting yet another tough list of contenders, with the other finalists the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the Toyota Prius falling to the Polo.

“I’m so proud,” said da Silva, who tends to spend more time on his renderings than on his words.

It came close to being a clean sweep for Volkswagen and its subsidiaries, the German maker capturing three of the four trophies handed out in the annual World Car of the Year awards – the VW Polo taking the namesake Car of the Year honors.

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