Honda City is Car of the Year 2014POSTED BY Dinesh Appavu ON 27 November 2014
The year 2014 in the local automotive industry could be summed up with Honda’s dominance as the carmaker took the lead in the non-national passenger car sales sector and fittingly, the largest contributor to its fortune, the all-new Honda City was crowned the Overall Car of the Year 2014 at the New Straits Times–Maybank Car of the Year Awards Night.
To make it into the shortlist of Car of the Year candidates, the City had to first come out tops in its respective category. Having emerged victorious amongst its peers in the Compact Sedan class, the City then went on to claim its aforementioned overall victory.
The City’s interior room, safety features and equipment list not only leads its class in all aspects but even rivals some of the cars in the segments above it. It is a true game changer and the decision by the panel of judges is reflected by the car buyers, with sales of the City leading passenger car sales in the non-national car segment.
“What Honda has done with the City is what people want. It is a B-segment car with legroom and interior space that can match certain larger D-segment models,” said Yamin Vong, chairman of the panel of COTY 2014 judges and editor of Cars, Bikes & Trucks.
Datuk Aminar Rashid Salleh, president and chief executive officer of Perodua, was voted the “Automotive Man of the Year” in recognition of his leadership that has brought the local carmaker to greater heights. The introduction of a new entry-level compact car has proven to be a hit with consumers.
The Perodua Axia’s popularity has translated into immense sales volume and will go a long way in strengthening the marque’s position as the best-selling car brand for the year. Befittingly, the Axia won the “Entry Level Compact Car of the Year.”
A mini French revolution saw five awards bagged by vehicles that originate from the nation. Citroen and Peugeot both bagged a double with the Citroen DS3 and Grand C4 Picasso winning the “Premium Compact Car of the Year” and “MPV of the Year” while the Peugeot 2008 and 208 GTI won the “Compact SUV of the Year” and “Compact Performance Car of the Year” categories respectively.
Renault completes the French five with its Fluence winning the “Family Car CKD of the Year” title.
Keeping with the doubles theme, Proton received the “Compact Hatchback of the Year” award as well as the “2014 People’s Choice Award” after garnering the most votes in the “NST Car of the Year 2014 People’s Choice” contest.
Rounding up the double winners list is Nissan, whose Teana won in the “Executive Car of the Year” category and the Elgrand in the “Premium MPV of the Year” category.
The Mazda 3 SkyActiv was judged to be the best in the “Family Car CBU of the Year” category, with its premium interior, dynamic handling and advanced powertrain giving it an edge over its rival.
A comprehensive package of active safety features turned out to be the trump card for the Infiniti Q50 as it emerged victorious as the “Premium Family Car of the Year” against more established competition.
“All the nominees in the Premium Family Car category had the ‘premium’ aspect locked down but the safety technology in the Infiniti Q50 that was almost the level of premium German cars that are almost three times the price proved to be the deciding factor,” said Vong.
Isuzu picked up where it left off last year as its D-Max V-Cross 3.0 with its larger engine gave the already-established truck the power it deserved to complement the car-like refinement yet robust capabilities in the “Pick-Up Truck” category.
Buying trends played a pivotal part in the awards this year as market preferences showed that factors such as drivetrains and bodystyles were key deciding point for consumers in purchasing vehicles.
This was reflected in the two SUV segments that were split based on drivetrains into the SUV (4×4) and the SUV (4×2) categories. The Kia Sportage won in the former while the Mitsubishi ASX 4×2 took top honours in the latter.
A host of extra features, including a new engine and additional power, drove the Volvo XC60 to the “Premium Compact SUV of the Year” award.
Moving up a size above, the Range Rover Sport took home the “Premium SUV of the Year” title; matching luxury and performance with a luxury package and proven off-road capability.
Rounding up the winners list this year is another variant of the Volkswagen Golf that was the overall 2013 winner in GTI guise. This time around however, a larger punch, more grip and heavier sporting aspirations saw the Golf R muscle its way ahead of the sports cars to be crowned the “Performance Car of the Year.”
The primary objectives of COTY since its inception has been to recognise and acknowledge the achievements in the local automotive industry that stretch far beyond the vehicles themselves. It is after all the people behind the scenes that fan the industry’s flame.
All the winners on the night were selected from a pool of 62 new or comprehensively facelifted models launched in Malaysia between October 2013 and October 2014 that were divided into 18 categories.
The panel of five judges; comprising motoring journalists and a powertrain engineer, reviewed all the nominated cars and presented their findings over the course of several meetings to determine the winner in each category.
Leading the panel of judges is Yamin Vong, editor of Cars, Bikes and the chairman of the panel; Hazril Hafiz, news editor of Berita Harian Auto; Chew Wooi Foo, motoring columnist for China Press; Azmi Abdullah, former powertrain engineer for Petronas and Dinesh Appavu, senior writer of Cars, Bikes & Trucks.
Further livening up the Awards Night at The Saujana in Subang were Datuk Lee Chee Leong; Deputy Minister of International Trade & Industry; Tan Sri Datuk Seri Mohamed Jawhar Hassas, chairman of The New Straits Times Press; Datuk Mohammad Azlan Abdullah, chief executive officer of The New Straits Times Press; Datuk Abdul Jalil Hamid; group managing editor of The New Straits Times Press; Abdul Razak Mohd Nordin, head of consumer finances at Maybank; and Datuk Aishah Ahmad, president of the Malaysian Automotive Association.
NST-MAYBANK CAR OF THE YEAR 2014 AWARDS NIGHT
1) Auto Accessory of the Year – Fobotire – World’s First All Bluetooth Smart TPMS
2) People’s Choice Award 2014 – Proton Iriz
1. Entry Level Compact Car – Perodua Axia
2. Compact Hatchback – Proton Iriz
3. Compact Sedan – Honda City
4. Premium Compact Car – Citroen DS3
5. Compact SUV – Peugeot 2008
6. Family Car CKD – Renault Fluence
7. Family Car CBU – Mazda 3 SkyActiv
8. Premium Family Car – Infiniti Q50
9. Executive Car – Nissan Teana
10. Pick-Up Truck – Isuzu D-Max V-Cross
11. MPV – Citroen Grand C4 Picasso
12. Premium MPV – Nissan Elgrand
13. SUV (4×4) – Kia Sportage
14. SUV (4×2) – Mitsubishi ASX
15. Premium Compact SUV – Volvo XC60
16. Premium SUV – Range Rover Sport
17. Compact Performance Car – Peugeot 208 GTI
18. Performance Car – Volkswagen Golf R
Car of the Year 2014 – Honda City
Automotive Man of the Year 2014 – YBhg Datuk Aminar Rashid Salleh, Perodua President and CEO