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Volvo XC60

It’s surprising news to find that the panel of judges – virtually all Japanese – have voted for a non-Japan model – the Volvo XC60 – to be the 2017-2018 Japan Car of the Year (JCOTY). The Swedish car must have impressed them more than the 5 Japanese models that had been among the finalists for the latest JCOTY. Even more surprising is to find that the runner-up is also not from a Japanese brand but from Germany – BMW’s latest 5-Series.

This is the second time that a non-Japanese model has won the JCOTY. The first was the Volkswagen Golf 7 for the 2013-2014 award. In earlier years, there were separate awards for non-Japanese models but that was stopped and in recent years, all models introduced in Japan during the qualification period are considered.

Explaining why the XC60 scored the most points, the statement from the judging panel said: “It has a balance of comfort, functionality, and driving pleasure expected of a contemporary SUV. The beautiful interior and exterior reflecting Scandinavian design and its high quality are superb. In addition, Volvo’s high level of safety equipment is also impressive and highly appreciated is the availability of powertrain choices, including a plug-in hybrid system.

Toyota Camry - highest-placed Japanese model this year
Toyota Camry – highest-placed Japanese model this year

The XC60 received a total of 294 points, with the 5-Series being awarded 242 points. The new Toyota Camry was the highest-placed Japanese model with 232 points, followed by the new Suzuki Swift which scored 210 points. Other models among the finalists were the Alfa Romeo Giulia, Citroen C3, Mazda CX-5 and Volkswagen Tiguan.

The JCOTY committee also presents special awards each year and the Toyota Prius PHV was given the Innovation Award while the Lexus LC received the ‘Emotional’ award. Toyota was also given an award for its promotion of hybrid vehicles since 1979. The practicality of the Honda N-BOX was recognised with the Small Mobility award and Takuma Sato received an award for being the first Japanese driver to win the Indy 500 race.

[Chips Yap]

Lexus LC was given the 'Emotional' award
Lexus LC was given the ‘Emotional’ award

Goodyear tyresPAST WINNERS
1980/1981: Mazda Familia (323)
1981/1982: Toyota Soarer
1982/1983: Mazda Capella (626)
1983/1984: Honda Civic
1984/1985: Toyota MR2
1985/1986: Honda Accord
1986/1987: Nissan Pulsar
1987/1988: Mitsubishi Galant
1988/1989: Nissan Silvia SX
1989/1990: Toyota Celsior (Lexus LS)
1990/1991: Mitsubishi Galant
1991/1992: Honda Civic
1992/1993: Nissan March
1993/1994: Honda Accord
1994/1995: Mitsubishi FTO
1995/1996: Honda Civic
1996/1997: Mitsubishi Galant
1997/1998: Toyota Prius
1998/1999: Toyota Altezza (Lexus IS250)
1999/2000: Toyota Vitz (Yaris)
2000/2001: Honda Civic
2001/2002: Honda Fit (Jazz)
2002/2003: Honda Accord
2003/2004: Subaru Legacy
2004/2005: Honda Legend
2005/2006: Mazda MX-5
2006/2007: Lexus LS460
2007/2008: Honda Fit (Jazz)
2008/2009: Toyota iQ
2009/2010: Toyota Prius
2010/2011: Honda CR-Z
2011/2012: Nissan LEAF
2012-2013: Mazda CX-5
2013-2014: Volkswagen Golf
2014-2015: Mazda Demio (Mazda2)
2015 – 2016 – Mazda MX-5 (Miata)
2016 – 2017 – Subaru Impreza

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