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Sunday, November 16, 2008

2008 World Car of the Year

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By Perry Stern
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Mazda2 takes the top honors at the 2008 World Car of the Year Awards.

Mazda’s compact Mazda2 was announced as the overall winner at the fourth annual World Car of the Year awards. The Mazda2 may not be familiar to most Americans – it’s not sold in this U.S. – but it does meet the eligibility requirement of being sold on at least two continents.

The Mazda2, called the Demio in Japan, was singled out from an original entry list that contained 39 vehicles from around the world. The other two finalists for the top award included the Ford Mondeo and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Smallest of the Mazda lineup, the Mazda2 is available as a 3-door or 5-door hatchback and has received a number of Car of the Year awards from around the world. Mazda currently has no plans to bring the Mazda2 to America, but perhaps winning this award will help change that.

"We are honored to receive this prestigious award recognizing the Mazda2/Mazda Demio as the 2008 World Car of the Year," said Dan Morris, Mazda's senior managing executive officer in charge of Marketing, Sales and Customer Service. "This is wonderful recognition which Mazda2 car owners and Mazda employees alike can celebrate worldwide.”

The World Car of the Year is chosen by a jury of 47 auto journalists from around the world, residing in 24 different countries. Jury members rate each car based on a number of parameters, including styling, performance, handling, comfort and utility. Safety, environmental responsibility, emotional appeal and significance are also taken into account.

In addition to choosing an overall winner, awards are given to the top Performance Car, Green Car and Car Design.

For 2008, the World Performance Car honor goes to the Audi R8. This is the second year in a row that an Audi has won this award — the Audi RS 4 was the winner in 2007. To be eligible for this award, a vehicle must exhibit an overt sports/performance orientation and have a minimum annual production of 500 units.

"Last year, the Audi RS 4 won the World Performance Car award and we are thrilled to have retained the title with the Audi R8," said Johan De Nysschen, Executive Vice President of Audi of America. "This award is recognition for the superb work done by the engineers and designers who worked on the R8. It has immediately taken up a leadership position in the super sports car segment.”

The Audi R8 is an eye-catching mid-engine sports car with a powerful V8 engine and full-time quattro all-wheel drive. It has also been the recipient of many other honors around the world. In fact, the R8 was the recipient of another World Car award.

The award for the World Car Design of the Year also went to the Audi R8. Audi was a repeat winner in this category as well – the 2007 design winner was the Audi TT.

The Winner of this year’s World Green Car of the Year is the BMW 118d with Efficient Dynamics. This 1-Series BMW is equipped with a 143-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine that has a number of features and improvements with the specific purpose of reducing fuel consumption and lowering emissions.

"BMW is very excited that the BMW 118d with Efficient Dynamics won the World Green Car title," said Tom Purves, Chairman and CEO of BMW of North America. "The measures that we've implemented within our Efficient Dynamics strategy into every BMW mean that we're able to provide customers with the driving pleasure they expect from a BMW, while still meeting the stringent requirements for fuel-efficiency and low emissions."

Remarkably, each of the three finalists for World Green Car of the Year – the BMW, Smart fortwo cdi and Volkswagen Passat 1.9 TDI – was powered by a diesel.