Mazda MX-5 is 2016 World Car of the Year

The 2016 edition of the New York Auto Show came and went and along with it the World Car of the Year title changed hands too. Currently in its twelfth year, the World Car Awards is the big daddy of all automotive awards and aims to recognize the very best in the automotive industry. Not restricted to a particular country or region or publication, the unique aspect of the World Car Awards is its jury panel comprising of over 70 prominent automotive journalists and experts from around the world.

2016 World Car of the Year

This time, it is the Mazda MX-5, the quintessential fun little roadster from Japan, that took top honours. From an initial entry list of 23 vehicles that were launched globally last year, an initial shortlist of ten vehicles were selected. Out of the ten, three top entries - the Audi A4 Sedan/Avant, the Mazda MX-5 and the Mercedes-Benz GLC were chosen as the finalists. In the end, it was the Mazda that beat its German rivals to become the 2016 World Car of the Year. 

Since its launch in 1989, the MX-5 has stuck to its formula of being a small, light, nimble and affordable fun-to-drive roadster. The fourth generation model unveiled in 2014 changed nothing. It didn't grow in size, there is still no forced induction under the hood, there are no umpteen variants and bodystyles like every other successful nameplate these days have and, most importantly, the Miata is still affordable and puts a permanent smile in your face when you are behind the wheel. 

Undoubtedly, the jurors were impressed too. "With the launch of its all‐new MX‐5, Mazda has thrown out the blueprint and gone back to basics – back to 1989 basics. Shorter, lower, wider and lighter, the new MX‐5 comes with a choice of either 1.5 or 2.0‐litre naturally aspirated petrol engines and the promise of unparalleled ‘Jinba ittai’ – a term meaning oneness between car and driver. And yes, it’s still one of the best driver’s cars around", they observed.

2016 World Car of the Year - Mazda MX-5

Previous Winners:

2015 – Mercedes-Benz C-Class
2014 – Audi A3
2013 – Volkswagen Golf
2012 – Volkswagen Up!
2011 – Nissan Leaf

2016 World Luxury Car

To acknowledge higher-priced premium cars selling in limited numbers worldwide, the World Luxury Car of the Year category was created in 2014. While Mercedes-Benz walked away with the honour in 2014 as well as 2015, it is Merc's arch-rival BMW that made it big in 2016. From a list of eight prestigious luxury cars, three vehicles - the Audi Q7, the BMW 7-Series and the Volvo XC90 were declared the finalists for this category. After stringent evaluations, the full size luxury sedan from BMW emerged victorious from the two rivaling luxury SUVs.

"This is the flagship model for the Bavarian car maker, and so it simply has to be the epitome of what the brand represents in terms of technology, design and performance. And the new 7 Series certainly delivers. It is very much the new face of BMW in the new family design – and yet it is a classic BMW all at once. It drives phenomenally well courtesy a new range of engines, and has a sporty drive dynamic that the rivals in the segment cannot claim as their USP. This comes from a 130 kg drop in weight thanks to the new ‘Carbon Core’ frame. 25 new features, of which 13 are segment firsts!", observed the jurors who were understandably bowled over by the 7-Series.

2016 World Luxury Car - BMW 7-Series

Previous Winners:

2015 – Mercedes-Benz S Coupe
2014 – Mercedes-Benz S-Class

2016 World Performance Car

Joining BMW in flying the German flag high was Audi that took the top spot in the 2016 World Performance Car category for the sharp R8 Coupe. The first-generation R8 catapulted Audi's calibre from a luxury car-maker to a competent sports car manufacturer and the new R8 is carries the tradition forward. Commenting on the R8, the jurors said "Arguably, Audi's Le Mans‐inspired R8 has been the most desirable, head‐turning supercar of the decade. Yet despite its racing car heritage and cutting edge technology it's a surprisingly easy and manageable car to drive ‐ fast or slow."

The Honda Civic Type-R and the Mercedes-Benz AMG C63 Coupe were the other two finalists that slugged it out with the Audi R8. The three finalists were chosen from an initial list of nine sports cars from all over the world.

2016 World Performance Car - Audi R8

Previous Winners:

2015 – Mercedes-AMG GT
2014 – Porsche 911 GT3
2013 – Porsche Boxster / Cayman
2012 – Porsche 911
2011 – Ferrari 458 Italia

2016 World Green Car

Off we go to the other end of the automotive spectrum - the 2016 World Green Car. Its awkward styling notwithstanding, it was the Toyota Mirai that won the title this year beating its stablemate Prius and the new Chevrolet Volt. These three cars came out on top from an initial list of eight new vehicles from around the world. Commenting on this crucial victory, Bill Fay, Toyota's Group Vice President and General Manager, said "Just as Prius changed the world nearly 20 years ago, the hydrogen‐powered Mirai is ready to make history. With a range of over 300 miles per tank, a refueling time of under five minutes, and emissions that consist only of water vapor, Mirai is leading the world forward toward a more sustainable future." Do we have to say anything more?

2016 World Green Car - Toyota Mirai

Previous Winners:

2015 – BMW i8
2014 – BMW i3
2013 – Tesla Model S
2012 – Mercedes-Benz S250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY
2011 – Chevrolet Volt 

2016 World Car Design of the Year

With a set of eligibility criteria slightly different from the other award categories, the World Car Design of the Year is meant to honour vehicles with innovation and style that pushes established boundaries. Candidates for this category may be pre-production cars or all-new production cars with atleast 10 units available in one major global market. 

This was Mazda's show again! New generation Mazdas look stunning in their respective segments and the new MX-5 is possibly the best interpretation of the Japanese brand's 'KODO - Soul of Motion' design language. The most impressive aspect of the new MX-5 is that it looks remarkably modern and fresh but still carries the unmistakable 'Miata' identity created 25 years back. A design panel comprising six leading world design experts agreed, commenting "The new MX5 design is exciting, distinct and fresh. It’s a design that wholly fits with being the unique small sports‐car this Mazda is.  It captures the spirit of the first generation MX5 design but introduces a very leading twenty‐teens aesthetic whilst remarkably also connecting visually to its sibling designs. An exceptional design in all ways."

2016 World Car Design of the Year - Mazda MX-5

Previous Winners:

2015 – Citroen C4 Cactus
2014 – BMW i3
2013 – Jaguar F-Type
2012  – Land Rover Range Rover Evoque
2011 – Aston Martin Rapide

Congratulations Mazda and the rest of the winning clan!


  1. I'm wondering why the Tesla electric car isn't up here yet. It's pretty safe to say that that car is definitely going to be winning awards in the green categories

    1. To be eligible for the overall World Car award, the candidates must become available for sale on at least two
      continents within a specific period of 5 months every year. Tesla doesn't meet that criteria.