Capping a rapidly expanding string of honors, the seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf was named the World Car of the Year during a well-attended ceremony at the New York International Auto Show Thursday morning.
The award comes just weeks after the compact hatchback was declared European Car of the Year at the annual Geneva Motor Show. But both honors landed a year before the latest update of Volkswagen’s best-selling model goes on sale in the U.S.
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The 66 members of the World Car jury also paid homage to three other manufacturers – Jaguar, Porsche and the upstart battery-car maker Tesla Motors.
“The competition is extremely strong and the job very difficult, but this was a very important program for us,” said Volkswagen Group’s Global Design Director Walter da Silva, following the news conference at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, where the auto show is underway.
The new Golf has received widespread praise for its revised styling, added features and improved fuel efficiency. While slightly larger than the outgoing, sixth-generation Golf, it comes in around 220 pounds lighter, depending on the model, due to a focused effort to reduce the vehicle’s weight.
The Golf has traditionally been Volkswagen’s global best-seller and is now available in nearly 200 markets. But the North American version won’t make its debut for another year as VW transfers production from Germany to a plant in Mexico. (Being a year away from the U.S. market means no pricing yet.)
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Ultimately, three different versions of the 2015 Volkswagen Golf will be sold in the U.S., including the base TSI, the sportier GTI and the diesel-powered TDI.
The 66 World Car jurors – split between North America, South America, Europe, Asia and other parts of the world – had scores of vehicles to consider, including 42 potential winners of the World Car of the Year award. The other finalists included the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class, the Porsche Boxster/Cayman and the sports car being sold as the Subaru BR-Z, the Toyota FT-86 and the Scion FR-S.
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Along with the primary award, jurors also named the Tesla Model S the World Green Car of the Year. The Porsche Boxster/Cayman was honored as World Performance Car of the Year, and the new Jaguar F-Type was chosen as World Car Design of the Year.
“It’s been 52 years since our last sports car and we’ve finally come back to the market,” said Jaguar’s Global Marketing Chief Adrian Hallmark. “We’re glad (jurors) recognized it.”
(Read more on the U.S. version of the 2015 VW Golf.)
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