Posts Tagged ‘car of the year’

Japanese Car Auction Find – 2014 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Posted by Stephen On Monday, February 16th, 2015

The other day we discussed the possibility of a revival of Mazda’s MPS performance brand, starting with a possible Mazda2 MPS that could make an appearance sometime in the next few years. When/if that car comes to fruition, it will compete with sporty hatchbacks like the Ford Fiesta ST and the Volkswagen Golf GTI. So, today we’re showcasing one of the latter up for auction in Japan. It’s a 2014 model year, pictured below:

2014 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Let’s start with the basics. This is an affordable five-door hatchback with a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder petrol engine. The powertrain offers a vigorous 217hp system output and 207 lb-ft of torque. That sporty engine is configured for front-wheel-drive and paired with either a 6-speed manual or, in this case, an upgraded 6-speed automatic transmission. It also gets a dual-clutch transmission with a limited-slip differential, complete with paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel.

Since this model uses the automatic transmission, you’ll enjoy an improved fuel economy of 32 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg in the city… Not bad at all for such a punchy little sports car. The Golf GTI is still popular even after all these years due to its incredible on-road handling, thanks in large part to its sport-tuned suspension and brakes.

2014 Volkswagen Golf GTI rear

Despite a relatively minimalist design, that red accent on the grille, the 18-inch alloys and the ever-so-slight rear spoiler still help the car stand out on the road.

For your information, this same car won the 2013-2014 Japan Car of the Year award to become the first-ever international import to receive that particular accolade.  Quite an achievement!

Unfortunately, we don’t have any interior pictures for this particular Japanese car auction find. However, since it’s a Volkswagen, you can rest assured that you’ll enjoy plenty of cabin amenities. For example, heated seats, automatic air conditioning and Bluetooth connectivity all come standard, along with a booming audio system with an auxiliary input and built-in iPod cable. It also offers you a surprising amount of cargo space given the car’s relatively small size.

All in all, 2014 was a great model year for the Volkswagen Golf GTI. This particular auction find is in great shape with an overall rating of 4.5. Overall, the Golf GTI is a relatively affordable premium hatch with a huge fun factor and an excellent interior. It may not have the same aesthetic appeal as Mazda’s new 2, but it definitely holds up on the performance front. To learn more, keep reading below the auction sheet:

2014 Volkswagen Golf GTI auction sheet

“Interior A, exterior condition B, first registered February 2014, GTi model, FAT, AAC, official dealer RHD import, idling stop, cruise control, xenon lights, original navigation system, ABS, airbag, original AWs, power steering, power windows, rear view reversing camera, spare smart key, scratches under bumpers, minor scratches on exterior paintwork, front windscreen stone scratches, marks as per map”


All-New Mazda2 Claims Japan’s Car of the Year Award

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

2015 Mazda2 Demio

Thanks to the recent Paris Motor Show, we’ve spent the past two weeks talking about all the new Japanese cars we can expect to see over the next couple of years. Today, we’re going to continue in that direction by celebrating the newly announced recipient for the 2014-2015 Japanese Car Of The Year award.

This year’s recipient?

The all-new 2015 Mazda2, otherwise known as the Mazda Demio in the automaker’s home market where the hatchback has already launched.

This is excellent news for rogue Japanese automaker, Mazda. Their newly redesigned supermini hasn’t even hit European or American shores yet, and already it’s winning awards thanks to its simple-but-efficient SkyActiv technology and suave Kodo – Spirit of Motion design language.

Japan’s Car of the Year was decided at the National Museum of Emerging Science & Innovation in Tokyo Bay.

Throughout the day, it was looking like the Mercedes C-class would come out on top, but in the final stretch Mazda’s city car managed to pull ahead with 423 points compared to Mercedes’ 404. Both cars came out above the third place BMW i3, which ended the day with 340 votes, and the top three were all head and shoulders above the rest… The fourth place Subaru Levorg had just 124 votes then polls closed.

Here’s how the judging works:

  1. 60 automotive experts and journalists from around Tokyo Bay are given 25 points to vote with.
  2. Each judge must give their first choice 10 points, and no more than 10 points can be allocated to any choice.
  3. The car with the most points at the end of the day wins!

Fun fact: Some quick math will tell you that 600 is the maximum points a car can receive. The closest any car ever came to getting max points was last year when the VW Golf got 504/600.

2015 Mazda2 Demio Interior

For those who don’t remember, this is the second time in three years that one of Mazda’s new SkyActiv cars has won Japan’s prestigious Car of the Year award. In 2012, the Mazda CX-5 won the award over the Subaru BRZ/Toyota GT-86 twins. It was the first-ever car Mazda released with their SkyActiv suite and Kodo design language.

Of course, Mazda knows what they did right to win the award yet again. At the event, Mazda EVP Kiyoshi Fujiwara said, “With the Mazda 2, we have rewritten the rulebook for compact cars. Our new SkyActiv technology, excellent mileage, reasonable pricing and unique design all contributed to our victory today.”

Consider this a reminder to keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming 2015 Mazda2 when it hits North American and European shores early next year.


Japanese Cars on Car and Driver’s 2013 10 Best Cars List

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, December 6th, 2012

As we come to the close of 2013, Car of the Year awards are being given out left and right. Why, just earlier this week we discussed Japan’s Car of the Year – the Mazda CX-5. But hey, it’s the holidays and who doesn’t love a good top 10 list? Especially when the compilers of that list are as thorough as the editors over at Car and Driver. They spent a full week testing out every single 2013 model year car that will be available next January for a price under $80,000 to bring you a carefully crafted list of 2013’s 10 Best Cars. If you’re searching for a new car for the new year, this is going to be the best place to start.

Without further ado, here is Car and Driver’s 2013 10 Best Cars:

#1. Audi A6 2.0T/S6/A7 3.0T/S7
#2. BMW 3 Series Sedan
#3. Ford Focus/Focus ST
#4. Ford Mustang GT/Boss 302
#5. Honda Accord
#6. Honda Fit
#7. Mazda MX-5 Miata
#8. Porsche Boxster/Boxster S
#9. Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ
#10. Volkswagen Golf/GTI

As you can see, European and American made cars claimed the top four spots, but we still had a good showing with 4 of the top 10 being Japanese cars. As you continue reading, you’re going to learn why each of the 4 Japanese cars made this rigorously vetted top 10 list:

#4. Honda Accord

Even though the Honda Accord was listed 4th on the list, it still deserves recognition as the car to most frequently make it into Car and Driver’s long-running 10 Best, having been somewhere in contention for 27 years — that means it’s only missed 3 years ever!

The Honda Accord continues to impress by providing an interior so spacious that it borders on luxury, while maintaining a compact and maneuverable exterior. Speaking of maneuverable, from behind the wheel there is no doubt that you are driving a finely tuned machine as the Honda Accord offers responsive braking, effortless steering and plucky acceleration (especially the six-cylinder model) all in one package.

#5. Honda Fit

Surrounded by the likes of the Audi A6, the Ford Mustang GT and the Porsche Boxster, the 117 horsepower Honda Fit may seem out of place. However, its incredible affordability coupled with Honda’s trademark reliability is exactly what puts this tightly-designed car above higher performance contenders. The Honda Fit is a bare-bones vehicle with everything you need and nothing more. The reason it made the 10 Best list is because it’s surprisingly spacious, its construction is rugged, it drives well, and it drives efficiently by offering up to 35 mpg on the highway.

#6. Mazda MX-5 Miata

At last, a little bit of Japanese-style to spice things up! The Miata has been on Car and Driver’s 10Best list for eight years in a row now, and what keeps it coming back is its enduring affordability and well-balanced driver controls, not to mention a zesty exterior. The Miata might come off as weak compared to other high-performance sports-cars with only 167hp, but remember that it’s a lightweight roadster priced under $25,000, not to mention it’s incredibly fun to drive.

#9. Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ

Last but not least, we have the Scion/Subaru twins coming in at 9th place as the only new car to grace the 10Best since last year’s list (it replaced the Cadillac CTS-V).

The reason that these cars come in so low on the 10 Best is because of the significant amount of noise ever-present from within the car. However, a highly responsive chassis and electronically-assisted steering more than make up for any audible letdowns. The cars will run you around $25,000 (depending on which brand you’re buying) and offer surprisingly reasonable fuel efficiency with up to 25 mpg in the city and up to 34 mpg on the highway.

I’ll finish by asking for some feedback… What are your thoughts on Car and Driver’s 10Best list? Do you feel that there are any cars that should have made the list? If so, which ones and in place of what? Voice your opinion below!

Source: Car and Driver


Car of the Year Japan 2012 Top Ten Contenders Announced

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Japan’s own Car of the Year (COTY) top ten contenders have been recently announced. The overall winner of the 32nd annual prize will be announced at the Tokyo Motor Show at Tokyo’s Big Sight on December 3rd, 2012.

Here, in no particular order,  is the shortlist for this year’s award:

  • Prius Alpha (Toyota)
  • Leaf (Nissan)
  • Fit Shuttle (Honda)
  • Demio Skyactiv (Mazda)
  • Mira e:S (Daihatsu)
  • Passat – sedan and variants (VW)
  • C Class – sedan and stationwagon (Mercedes)
  • 1 Series (BMW)
  • 508 (Peugeot)
  • S60 / V60 (Volvo)

Now, if I were a betting man – which I am not really, but let’s imagine I was for a moment – which of these would I put my money on to win?

First of all, it is disappointing to see that a number of models on this list are derivative rather than genuine breakthrough products. Yes, I am looking at you, Prius Alpha and Fit Shuttle. However, good (and successful) these cars may be in filling their particular niches, their derivative nature makes them unworthy of the overall crown. Good? Yes – but not Great.

So what is the stand-out quality that impresses this year?

Well, whereas 2010 was the year of the electric car, with the Leaf and i-MiEV capturing the attention, this year the focus seems to have shifted to squeezing more out of a traditional ICE arrangement – and in doing so keeping additional costs to a minimum. Now, if that is the zeitgeist then there are two cars on this list that clearly reflect this. And one of them that has really made an outstanding impression in this regard.

So which cars are on my shortlist of two?

The Demio Skyactiv and the Mira e:S.

Coming first to the Demio, the thing about it is that it is not so much the car, but the engine technology that grabs the headlines. After all, Mazda is starting to apply Skyactiv principles and technology across its model range – even as far as bringing it to diesel models in the future too.

If there’s a “Car Technology of the Year” award, then Skyactiv should definitely be right up there in contention. But the Demio as Car of The Year? I am not so sure.

The Mira e:S, on the other hand, has been nothing but a sensation: The first kei car to break the headline 30 km / l figure, putting it almost on par with super-frugal (and complex) hybrids such as the Prius Alpha. On the other hand, Daihatsu has achieved all of this in a package that costs just a smidgen more than a third of the price of a base model Prius – the e:S range starts at a mere 800,000 Yen.

You can tell Daihatsu is onto something here: Japan’s new car buyers love it. The e:S is selling like hot cakes and was the impetus behind an incredible 30% leap in Daihatsu’s October sales.

So there you have it: For my money, there is one clear winner- and that is the Daihatsu Mira e:S.

Daihatsu Mira e:S - could this be Japan's Car of the Year 2011 - 2012?

(But tune in early in December to find out what the so-called experts think when they announce the real winner!)

Source: Car of The Year Japan (Japanese)