There were 10 models in the running, nine judges on our jury and nine criteria for them to consider: Performance, Handling, Ride, Build Quality, Economy/Efficiency, Ergonomics, Styling, Value For Money and X Factor.
Each finalist in the running was rated against its typical rivals in the same market segment and price range, so the voting and scoring would be equitable.
After the scores were tallied, the BMW i8 emerged as the clear winner this year with 275 points.
The victorious petrol-electric Bimmer topped our charts in Performance (tied with BMW’s own 7 Series), Economy/Efficiency, Styling and X Factor. The i8 also notched up the most number of full (five) marks in the different criteria – 13, more than the Audi Q7 and BMW 7 Series combined (10).
The battle for second place was much closer. The 7 Series, with 236 points, finished just one point ahead of the Lexus RC and two points ahead of the Mazda MX-5.
The close finish for the runner-up spot was like last year’s close fight for pole position, whereby the BMW i3 beat the Mercedes-Benz S-Class to the COTY 2014 crown by only one point.
Another of this year’s contenders, the Volvo XC90, garnered the most support from ST readers in an online poll on the model they think should be Car of the Year 2015. But on our official scoreboard, the XC90 was eventually parked in 9th position, with only the Kia Sorento below in last place.
The Korean seven-seater SUV, however, was ranked the highest in Value For Money, scoring more points (31) in that aspect than the keenly priced Citroen C4 Cactus, entry-level Mazda 2 and generously equipped Ford Mondeo, all of which got the same 26 points.
Another seven-seater SUV among this year’s finalists was the Audi Q7. With standard air suspension and a supercharged 333bhp 3-litre V6, the Audi was second only to the BMW 7 Series, a full-blown limousine (also specified with air suspension as standard in Singapore), in the Performance and Ride Comfort categories.
And the Q7 matched the limo in Build Quality, suggesting that flagship SUVs today are as well-made as their saloon equivalents.
The Q7 also beat the rest in Ergonomics. Even the Volvo XC90, one of the most user-friendly big SUVs with its tablet-style infotainment and snazzy displays, could only be second best ergonomically.
In the Styling exam, the two top scorers showed that “eccentric” (Citroen C4 Cactus with 31 points) can be almost as eye-catching as “futuristic” (BMW i8 with 38 points).
The best “handler” in the Handling section of our ballot was the light and nimble Mazda MX-5. A bigger surprise was how the large and luxurious BMW 7 Series earned the same 30 points in said section as the Lexus RC, a dedicated coupe.
One of the most interesting takeaways from this year’s COTY contest was how excellent fuel efficiency could be achieved in dramatically different ways.
BMW’s i8, a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid packed with exotic high technology, was the Economy/Efficiency champion on the scoreboard. But just a few points behind in second place was the low-tech, low-weight Citroen C4 Cactus with a low-power 1.2-litre three-cylinder.
- FINAL SCOREBOARD
- BMW i8 – 275 points
- BMW 7 Series – 236 points
- Lexus RC – 235 points
- Mazda MX-5 – 234 points
- Ford Mondeo – 221 points
- Audi Q7 – 219 points
- Mazda 2 – 217 points
- Citroen C4 Cactus – 209 points
- Volvo XC90 – 206 points
- Kia Sorento – 198 points