Six categories offer consumers some insight into strengths contenders

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Six categories offer consumers some insight into strengths contenders

Since the JoongAng Ilbo Car of the Year award was established, the competition in the final screening round has been intense, and this year was no exception.

On Feb. 14, the 12 finalists lined up on the track at the Korea Transportation safety Authority in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi for the final test drives.

The 14 judges, led by Yu Ji-soo, 63, president of Kookmin University, examined each car over the next eight hours. The judging panel led by Yu consisted of engineers, professors and automotive columnists.

Following is how judges decided the winner in each category.




Innovation: i3 vs Q50 vs. C-Class


BMW’s i3 received good marks as an electric vehicle (EV) that can be driven on the road right now and for adopting next-generation technology. Judges said it also cut its weight, which is considered an EV weakness. The Infiniti Q50’s steering, safety options and sport hybrid system attracted judges, while Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class was praised for setting a new standard in the compact sedan segment for performance and design.




Performance: Golf GTI vs. Jaguar F-Type vs. Q50


The Golf GTI won this category because of its peak performance at all speeds and under a variety of conditions. The F-Type was praised by judges for its powerful engine and thrilling explosive sound. The Q50 also received high scores with its hybrid system, which Infiniti said it developed in order to improve the car’s overall performance, and its power at speeds of 200 kilometers (124 miles) per hour and above.




Design: F-Type vs. Sorento vs. Qashqai


The F-Type again attracted judges, with its stylish lines and sporty design. Judges said the Sorento from Kia Motors has a design that is good enough to compete with SUVs made by foreign brands in the international market. Nissan’s Qashqai SUV reflects both a conservative German style and the compact design favored by Japanese, judges said.




Smart: Q50 vs. LF Sonata vs.Qashqai


The Infiniti Q50 scored high with a system that allows drivers to adjust the driving mode according to their preferences. Hyundai Motor’s LF Sonata was considered to have all the necessary basic features based on thorough market research. Judges praised the Qashqai for some safety options added to the model that are not available in other comparable models in the segment.




Recreational vehicle: Carnival vs. Qashqai vs Sorento


This category was established for the first time this year as the SUV and RV markets have been growing fast recently. The ample interior space and design of the Carnival van from Kia Motors attracted judges, while the Qashqai received high scores for accurately nailing what consumers are looking for in compact SUVs. The Sorento SUV was praised for its robust and strong-looking design.




Domestic Car of the Year: Sonata LF vs. Malibu vs. SM5


Judges said the Sonata was an overall improvement from its predecessor, the YF, and is offered at a reasonable price.

GM Korea’s Chevrolet Malibu diesel was praised for its performance, while the SM5 D from Renault Samsung Motors offered high fuel efficiency.

BY KWON SANG-SOO, KIM SUN-WOONG [kwon.sangsoo@joongang.co.kr]



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