The seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf has been named “World Car of the Year 2013.” The internationally coveted prize was presented at the New York International Auto Show.
According to the jury of 66 distinguished motoring journalists from 23 countries that made the selection, “The Golf is just the right size – it’s spacious, practical and comfortable. It has got a fresh, progressive design, a new range of engines, plus an impressive list of equipment and safety systems. If there is a car for everyone, the Golf is it.”
Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, VW’s Chairman of the Board, commented: “We at Volkswagen are all delighted that the Golf has been named ‘World Car of the Year’. To win this award again shows that the Golf is and remains in a class of its own all around the world. This car sets new benchmarks again and again, not least in terms of efficiency and environmental credentials. Soon, for instance, the Golf will also be launched as a plug-in hybrid and as a 100% electric car.”
Since its introduction last November, the new Golf has won seventeen awards from around the world. Just three weeks ago, it was named “European Car of the Year” at the Geneva Auto Show.
This is the second consecutive “World Car of the Year” prize for Volkswagen. Last year, the little Up! took the honors; in 2010, it was the Polo and the previous generation of the Golf took home the trophy in 2009.
Four finalists have been selected for the World Car of the Year: the seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Porsche Boxster/Cayman and the Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S/Toyota GT86 (the GT86 is the European version).
The winners will be announced at the end of the month at the New York Auto Show.
The only American car to make the finals was the Tesla S, which is vying for World Green Car of the Year with the Renault Zoe and Volvo V60 plug-in hybrid.
The Subaru/Toyota sports coupe and Porsche Boxter are also up for World Performance Car of the Year where they face the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta.
The Aston Martin Vanquish, Jaguar F-type and Mazda6 are the finalists for World Car Design of the Year.
The Golf is fresh from winning the European Car of the Year trophy in Geneva where it easily outdistanced the rest of the field with 414 votes, more than twice the take of the runner up Subaru/Toyota (202 votes). Volvo’s fresh V40 was third with 189 votes; Ford B-Max took fourth with 148. The completely redesigned A-Class netted just 138 votes, surprising some in the business, who expected it to give the Golf a serious run for the title. The fifth-place finish is another small sting for Mercedes CEO Dieter Zetsche, who is already treading on thin ice. Daimler AG directors recently extended Zetsche’s contract by just three years, instead of the expected five, partly due to Mercedes’ performance in the increasingly important small-car category.
This is a second win for the hugely popular Volkswagen: the Renault Clio, which finished sixth this year, is the only other car to have made two trips to the top of the podium.
The Peugeot 208 and Hyundai i30 (sold over here as the Elantra GT) rounded out the eight finalists for the award.
To keep the scorecard up-to-date, the North American Car of the Year was the Cadillac ATS; the Ram 1500 took Truck of the Year. Both awards were announced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.
One of the hottest segments of the U.S. light vehicle market is the small crossover. This is especially true of the upscale portion of the market.
Seeing an opening for a new product and having an appropriate platform on hand, Ford put its new Lincoln team to work. The result is the Lincoln MKC Concept.
The MKC Concept made its debut at this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Based on the Ford Escape and intended to go up against the likes of the BMW X1, the MKC is the first vehicle to come out of Lincoln’s new design group.
While it shares its underpinnings with the Ford’s smallest crossover, the MKC boasts entirely new sheet metal and a mercifully revised Lincoln grille.
“We are reinventing Lincoln by focusing on the largest and fastest-growing segments of the luxury market, while offering clients something different,” said Jim Farley, who heads up Lincoln. “The just-introduced MKZ re-establishes Lincoln in the largest luxury segment, and the MKC Concept highlights a key opportunity in the fastest-growing part of the luxury market.”
Segment growth is being driven by both younger buyers entering the premium vehicle market and more mature customers that are downsizing or moving from sedans to utilities. This phenomenon is also being seen in China, where Lincoln will begin sales in the second half of 2014.
As part of Ford’s effort to revitalize its last remaining satellite brand, Lincoln is being reinvented. From a complete new lineup of vehicles to the dealership experience. Ford says its goal is “…to appeal to a new type of luxury clients considered cultural progressives, who are open to new ideas and experiences.” Such as considering a Lincoln.
These “Lincoln Experiences,” as the folks in Dearborn call them, will include “unique and diverse powertrains,” what ever those might be. (Steam? Ion drive with a ten-speed?) There will also be features such as push-button transmission engagement, programmable ride control, as well as customizable functions that can be adapted to each client. The idea is that the vehicle will instantly recognize the operator and create a personalized welcoming sequence.
“The MKC Concept has a wonderful stance and sits beautifully on its wheels,” said Murat Gueler, MKC Concept lead exterior designer. “It has a sleek, sculpted body and wheel arches and elegant shoulders. The lines of the vehicle appear relatively simple on first look but with a second view reveal a dynamic three dimensionality.
“The Lincoln design team has done an outstanding job with the MKC Concept in communicating Lincoln’s design vision for reaching a new and discerning clientele.”
While the MKC is handsome and the new grille is a welcome change from the toothy chrome grin of other Lincolns, the MKC doesn’t stand out from a dozen other small crossovers with high beltlines and curved greenhouses. Guelar makes a big deal about the side cutline for the rear hatch, which permits the full-width taillight, but it’s unlikely that will have a conscious impact on one in a thousand potential MKC buyers.
Ford also is quite proud of the panoramic roof that runs the length of the vehicle. Swell for a trip from Dearborn to Alpina or Sault Ste. Marie but drive it from Dallas to Phoenix in August.
The MKC’s interior does look nice and it is well-appointed with lots of leather everywhere, though there’s no guarantee all the features of the concept would make it to a production model.
“There is a significant upgrade in materials and a stylish, fashion-oriented package. The materials are combined with progressive combinations and uses of stitching and colors,” said Soo Kang, Lincoln interior design chief.
Just like MKZ – which sets the tone for the brand’s thoughtful new approach to design – the MKC Concept features a distinct push-button gear shift selector. This enables a flowing, expressive and architectural center console design covered with riveting details, and unique colors and materials.
“There is a rich softness to the exterior and interior palette of the MKC Concept,” said Susan Lampinen, group chief designer, Color & Material Design. “The leather-wrapped architecture complements the open-pore and designer hand-dyed woods.”
Other refined details include finishes like appliqués cut from layers of reconstructed natural wood infused with a metallic flake for a glistening effect on the steering wheel, upper instrument panel and door panels.
In its press information, Ford says the MKC is, “A true Lincoln.” What remains to be seen is whether the carbuying public will agree.
Stealing a bit of thunder from GM’s introduction of the next-generation 2014 Silverado and Sierra pickups, Ford today offered a sneak peek at the next F-series pickup, due in 2015.
Called the Atlas Concept, Ford says the truck is a showcase for the the design and technologies that will shape its future pickups.
“The Ford Atlas Concept previews the innovations that will transform what people expect from their pickup,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development. “With 36 years as America’s best-selling pickup, we are absolutely committed to setting the agenda in the truck market.”
As with the new GM designs, the Ford Atlas look is “evolutionary,” continuing the massive-appearing, chiseled front end and side styling that emphasizes the trucks height. Prominent wheel arches reinforce the “big” image.
“We wanted the concept to reflect how Ford trucks help customers in both their worlds – professionally and personally,” said J Mays, Ford group vice president and chief creative officer. “Every surface and feature in the vehicle has been crafted for purpose and capability while retaining an unmistakable Built Ford Tough look.”
Designers enhanced truck functionality with details like multiple tie-down points integrated within the cargo box walls and load floor, as well as 110-volt electrical outlets in the cargo box to charge power tools. An integrated roof carrying system and hidden extendable ramps increase the truck’s suitability for a number of vocational applications..
The interior incorporates thin, lightweight seating allowing leather allows for extra legroom for rear passengers and storage for smaller items. “Floating” instrument pods and glove-friendly buttons and controls keep the interior functional.
The Atlas Concept features a next-generation EcoBoost® powertrain,with truck-enhanced Auto Start-Stop engine shutoff technology. Ford says further fuel savings will come from aerodynamic elements that reduce wind resistance. They include automatic shutters behind the grille that stay open when extra engine cooling is needed and automatically close to improve aerodynamics when cruising on the highway at steady speeds.
It will be interesting to see is some of the Atlas Concept’s other features make it to production. The first is Active Wheel Shutters, panels in the wheels that are hidden at low speeds but automatically deploy at highway speeds to improve aerodynamics. Self-charging batteries use energy from the wheels’ motion to power the shutters. The automatic drop-down front air dam lowers at highway speeds to improve underbody airflow and retracts at low speeds to improve ground clearance.
Ford Atlas Concept is a rolling showcase of features that improve capability, durability and productivity to meet the diverse needs of pickup truck owners.
The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) has unveiled the Official NAIAS 2013 Mobile App, a whole new approach to connectivity with “everything auto show.”
Users will be able to get breaking automotive news, photos and videos, as well as live-stream video coverage of the more than 50 vehicle unveilings. Visitors to the show will be able navigate around Cobo Center will be easier thanks to the available virtual show floor map, and useful practical information about the show, such as hours, parking and ticket prices.
The NAIAS App is presented by the Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA) and WDIV-TV Local 4/ClickOnDetroit.com, and will be available for free download in both the iPhone and Android platforms.
“The new NAIAS App puts ‘everything auto show’ in the palm of smart phone users,” said Jim Seavitt, chairman, NAIAS 2013. “It is the best way to keep track of what’s happening at the show on a minute-by-minute basis. It’s the must-have App for 2013.”
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