The Jaguar I-Pace electric vehicle has been deemed “the best car on the planet” after being named the 2019 World Car of the Year at the New York motor show overnight – taking out a trifecta of awards for the first time in the event’s history.
The 86 judges from 24 countries including Australia voted the Jaguar I-Pace the best vehicle outright in the 15th annual running of the awards. The Jaguar i-Pace also won best green car and best design.
Head of Jaguar design Ian Callum said: “I’ve run out of words. I’m speechless for once. This is an astonishing hat trick, amazing. In my 40 years in the business this is my Oscar moment.”
Callum said when Jaguar set out to build the I-Pace he wanted to make “the best car in the world, now it looks like we’ve done it”.
“I’m very proud of my design team,” said Callum. “I’ve spent the last 20 years building up some of the best people in the business. In electric cars you get so much more freedom with design and shape. I always wanted to design a cab-forward family car … and electrification has enabled that to happen.”
He said the Jaguar I-Pace is “not just about being green, because that’s going to happen for all of us”.
“Motoring is about to go through the biggest changes in 100 years in the next 10 years. I think it’s great to be recognised as the innovative company that we really are,” said Callum.
The Jaguar I-Pace edged out finalists the Audi e-tron and Volvo S60/V60 to take out the top spot – and beat the Hyundai Nexo and Audi e-tron in the green car category and the Suzuki Jimny and Volvo XC40 in the design category.
The winner of the World Performance Car of the Year is the McLaren 720S, edging out finalists the Aston Martin Vantage and Mercedes-AMG GT four-door.
The World Luxury Car of the Year is the Audi A7, ahead of finalists the Audi Q8 and BMW 8 Series.
The World Urban Car of the Year winner is the Suzuki Jimny, ahead of the Kia Soul and Hyundai Santro.
The box-shaped Suzuki 4WD won the award despite only scoring a three-star safety rating due to poor crash test performance and a glitch with the autonomous emergency braking system during testing of the vehicle by a number of WCOTY judges during initial test drives.
A detailed analysis of the scoring showed the Suzuki Jimny only beat the Kia Soul by two points, bettering it in emotional appeal but losing out on safety.
It is the first time Suzuki has been nominated for a WCOTY award.
Suzuki Jimny chief engineer Hiroyuki Yonezawa said the award was for “all of the Suzuki and Jimny fans”.
He said the Jimny had been a “compact authentic off-road concept for almost 50 years” and that the car is “now enjoyed by customers … all around the world”.
Despite its flaws the Suzuki Jimny is sold out in Australia for 12 months and some dealers have stopped taking orders.
This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling