On Thursday the 21st of April, the seventh annual World Car Awards were given out in a ceremony at the New York International Auto Show that was duly covered by Autoblog.

Full disclosure: I, Matt Davis, European Editor of this online obsession Autoblog, am both a co-founder and co-chair of the World Car Awards, and I intend to shamelessly soapbox herein about the WCAs, at least until the bosses toss me out on the sidewalk.

The WCAs comprise four awards: World Green Car, World Car Design, World Performance Car, and overall World Car of the Year – known as the WCotY. There is no other widely known award even remotely like this, as all four take into account truly global cars from every region of the world. The overall WCotY, in particular, pits cars of every type from every make on the globe, some of which may not be available in the English-speaking world, against one another and, in the end, we 66 international jurors shake out a winner, two runners-up, and the rest.

Continue Reading 2011 World Car Awards: How close it was...

This year's Green winner was the Chevrolet Volt, Design went to the Aston Martin Rapide, Performance to the Ferrari 458 Italia, and overall WCotY 2011 to the Nissan Leaf.

Aston Martin Rapide
2011 Chevrolet VoltFerrari 458 Italia

Our panel of five design experts plucked from all major markets winnowed Design candidates down to the victorious Rapide with the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and Ferrari 458 Italia as close followers. The Green award guided by three international green tech experts representing North America, Europe, and Asia, went to the Chevrolet Volt over the BMW 320d Efficient Dynamics Edition and Nissan Leaf. For both Green and Design, we ease the "on sale on at least two continents by June of the award year" rule a bit since mass-produced smart technology and nice aesthetics wherever they come from are the more important criteria.

The two awards voted on throughout the three voting stages by all 66 jurors, Performance and WCotY, generally cause the biggest hubbub no matter who wins. These two titles are held to our much stricter "world car" definitions. In Performance, the honestly extraordinary Ferrari 458 Italia won with 23 first-place votes and a total of 166 points tallied. Second place in the hot wheels category went to the Mercedes SLS AMG at 145 points, then came the Porsche 911 Turbo at 108 points. These top three were then followed closely by the Porsche 911 GT3 RS, the Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera, and the Audi RS5. The panel of 66 equally represents North America, Europe, and Asia/et al. And we all drive everything, so it can't be said the Italians and Germans conquered all due to badly skewed jury demographics.

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG in goldPorsche 911 Turbo

For all the variables taken into account for the WCotY, the finish was as tight as it's ever been for any award the WCAs have handed out. The Nissan Leaf had 733.4 points, the BMW 5 Series 730.0, and the Audi A8 had 709.0 total. After these came the Audi A1, Mercedes SLS AMG, and Volvo S60/V60 in fourth through sixth.

North American-built models are given the exact same chance as any others and they are starting to make headway in the rankings. One primary challenge with these NA-built models is that almost all of them with American badges are built for and sold in only North America. Like I say, gradually this is changing. The Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 came in a good third place in Performance in 2009, and in 2010 the Camaro won the Design award while the Buick Regal (a.k.a. Opel/Vauxhall Insignia) showed strongly in the Top Ten candidates for WCotY. And the Cadillac CTS made the Top Ten for WCotY in 2008.

If over half of the public agrees with our winners – just as with anything decided by Congress – that's considered a major achievement. That the fully electric Leaf won makes a lot of sense to me since it is a complete game changer on sale now on two continents and is done seriously, with a very well-built package for carrying five real adults. Nissan-Renault is to be commended for their skillful moxie in this cautious bankrupt world. As the Volt is not on sale anywhere yet but in North America, it was not eligible for WCotY.

2011 Nissan Leaf

That the Volt then won the Green award for some represents a disconnect. Not for me one bit; the Nissan Leaf is hugely ambitious and presents itself extremely well as a pure EV available now on two continents while the Volt, thanks to the range-extending ICE strategy, is a far more practical green approach for today's buyers and will eventually bring green thinking into a lot of driveways not ready to leap quite so far as the Leaf proposes an owner leap.

And 2012 figures to be every bit as debate-provoking. So, set loose your opinions.


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  • 34 Comments
      usmc32yr
      • 3 Years Ago
      how can any discussion of the world's finest automobiles not include Rolls Royce or Bentley or the Bugatti ?
      Jesse
      • 3 Years Ago
      Technically the Leaf is not zero emissions completely.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      hollyhood5125
      • 3 Years Ago
      these "green" and "eco friendly" people are stupid when it comes to cars. Buying overpriced hybrids and EV's may seem environmentally friendly, but it will be new trash in scrapyards that wont know what to do with it. If you wanna "be green" just fix up your current car
      Bart
      • 3 Years Ago
      The Leaf winning is a travesty. It is not a consumer car, not a car for real world application whatsoever. In Europe, with our expensive gas prices, it is 3 (euro)cents the mile cheaper than a BMW 3 series. However to achieve that, it spends half it's lifetime charging its batteries. Its retail price is nearly double that of a BMW, so you can calculate how much of the car you write off while it's charging, making it one of the worst cost effective cars in history. As for practical application; While driving in the real world, doing 70 miles, not the listed 100 something, on a full 24KWh (12hrs) charge is abysmal. Makes it a relevant car...IF you're a housewife that just needs to make the daily shopping run. Dropping the kids off at school, maybe. Noone wants to spend that kind of money on a shopping cart. Lets talk environment. Cause it's green right? Wrong. The man-hours that go into making the thing as well as the material resourcing overshadow any green aspect. And then there's the battery life. And energy needed to recycle the thing. The collective automotive branch, from journalists to engineers can only sigh and imagine what kind of brown-nosing resulted in this pick.
      carboy55
      • 3 Years Ago
      Well explained, Matt. I still maintain that if Nissan had the BS machine that GM public relations had come, we'd all be bowing to the LEAF as the greatest invention of all times. GM threw so much bluster, people and cash at their PR for the Volt people STILL think it's an electric vehicle. Kudos to the judges for understanding what a REAL EV and a REAL game changer is.
        LBFTPSEC
        • 3 Years Ago
        @carboy55
        Drive it for less than 40 miles on a charge, and it IS an electric car! If you should happen to want to go farther, then gas is there to back you up. It's not PR Bullshit. It's true. It's about being energy efficient, not about making you happy that it's a "true EV". Take a step back and look at the big picture here!
      lilume
      • 3 Years Ago
      Volt is too xpensive
      emperorkoku
      • 3 Years Ago
      It couldn't have been anything other than the Leaf, at the end of the day. Congrats to it and to the jurors for recognizing that.
      mikemaj82
      • 3 Years Ago
      there are people who run out of gas on the highway, I can imagine how many people will be stranded at the side of the road with a Leaf.
      Renaurd
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is a joke..........isn't it?
      LBFTPSEC
      • 3 Years Ago
      I can't STAND the use of the term "GREEN". Why can't they refer to it as being energy efficient or something along those lines. Having said that, in terms of being a pure feat of engineering while incorporating style, cost and practicality, the Volt should have won the WCOTY....not because it's GREEN.
      prdude2912
      • 3 Years Ago
      Would the Chevrolet Volt have won if it was sold elsewhere?
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