The Audi A3 was named the World Car of the Year during a ceremony at the New York International Auto Show Thursday, marking the second time the maker has captured the prestigious honor in recent years.
But there was something for everyone during the morning ceremony – at least if you were a German automaker, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche dividing up the four other trophies handed out for 2014.
“This really represents what Audi does extremely well,” proclaimed Scott Keogh, Audi of America’s CEO, as he clutched the large World Car Trophy at the podium. “We couldn’t be prouder to win this award.”
Audi had some tough competition for the overall World Car award, going up against the new BMW 4-Series and the Mazda3. Significantly, all of these downsized models symbolize the shifting trends across the global auto industry to smaller, more fuel-efficient yet sporty riding dynamics and dramatic design.
The Audi A3, in particular, positions Audi into what industry analysts view as one of the world’s fastest-growing market segments, a niche that also includes the Mercedes-Benz CLA, one of that maker’s most successful new offerings in years. Audi hopes to match that success with the A3 which just went on sale in the U.S. market two weeks ago.
The 2014 WCoTY award marks its 10th anniversary this year – and the 69 journalist judges from around the world this year had a fifth category added to their jury duty. And it was Mercedes that snapped up the trophy for World Luxury Car of the Year with its latest-generation S-Class.
“This S-Class, for us, is the embodiment of our guiding principle, ‘The best or nothing,’” said U.S. chief spokesman Mike Moran.
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The S-Class was nonetheless up against some tough competitors in the form of the other finalists, the Bentley Flying Spur and the Range Rover Sport.
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BMW managed to collect two of the trophies – World Green Car and World Car Design of the Year – for its all-new i3, the first in what is to eventually become a family of battery-based vehicles that will be sold through the new brand-within-a-brand called BMW i.
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“This is a real game-changer for the industry,” asserted Chris Koenders, executive vice president of sales with BMW North America, adding that it shows “BMW’s commitment to the environment.
Porsche nabbed the final trophy for World Performance Car of the Year with its 911 GT3. Considering recent controversies surrounding the vehicle – including the need to completely replace the high-performance engine due to a fire problem – World Car chief juror Peter Lyons noted there was “much heated debate” over the Porsche entry which ultimately swayed judges for its incredible performance both on the street and on the track.