Have faith, dear car shopper. This is good news.
The same day two electric cars won World Car Awards—from a field of World Car Awards finalists that included 4 electrics and 7 conventional gas cars—the New York Times reported that the use of coal is about to explode world wide. Not exactly the news we hope to hear as we’re all trying to figure out how to adapt and battle climate change.
As car buyers, we tend to buy what is available on the market that best fits our lives. We depend on the auto industry to introduce new technologies that will help us to drive safer, be more comfortable and yes, adapt to and fight climate change. So that there were 4 electric vehicles among the 11 finalists for one of the 5 World Car Awards, and that the top winner is electric, gives us faith in the future. We can drive intelligent, sustainable cars that don’t contribute emissions to the air and are responsibly built. And, it’s good to know that they are built by companies that don’t want to sacrifice our futures for their bottom lines. Or at least it’s looking more and more that way.
Here are the vehicles that took the top awards and what each one means to you and the future of driving.
World Car of the Year for 2021: Volkswagen ID.4
This is VW’s first true electric car (though there is an electric version of the Golf) and it will serve as the springboard for VW’s electric future, including a version of the ever popular microbus. The ID.4 is a studied and thoughtful SUV that includes a lot of features that drivers want in a car, and it’ll continue to improve through over the air updates, so it’ll get better even after you buy it— a rarity in car ownership.
The ID.4 won praise because not only does it have a lot of clever details and elegant design, but it addresses some of the lifestyle pain points that may keep buyers from taking the electric leap. Oh, and to get you over the hurdle of learning to keep it charged, the company is including 3 years of free DC fast charging at Electrify America stations.
World Car Design of the Year: Land Rover Defender
Talk about being prepared for climate change! This SUV will get you over the hills, though the creeks and out of harm’s way in luxury and comfort. The Defender isn’t just one of the most capable SUVs on the road, but it’s designed to keep you and your loved ones safe, to ‘defend’ your family. Yes, it has a conventional gas engine and no, it’s not super efficient, but it is incredibly capable and expect that as the world goes electric that this one will, too.
The World Design Car of the Year win celebrates this SUV’s heritage. It’s a modern interpretation of the classic Defender, incorporating the best of what was so loved and innovations for modern life, such as overland camping, charging devices and accommodating passenger comforts.
World Luxury Car: Mercedes-Benz S Class
When it comes to innovation, Mercedes-Benz is the leader. If you can think of a feature you love—voice activated controls, quilted leather, massaging seats, in-car fragrance diffuser— the company was at the forefront, developing great ideas and putting them into their cars to delight and assist you.
And many features that were once simply luxuries are now necessities—all wheel drive, lane departure assistance, automatic emergency braking. This is why luxury is actually important; someone has to think of and implement these ideas in order to discover the ones that matter to the rest of us. And this is why the S Class is important. Mercedes-Benz puts all its luxe innovation into this one class of vehicles and rolls the line up out to customers—from SUVs to the coming EQS electric version—and then, puts these features into its other vehicles. Think of the S Class as the atelier of design and innovation.
World Performance Car: Porsche 911 Turbo
There’s Porsche and then, there’s Porsche. The 911 Turbo is the second of these: The ultimate Porsche. This was Ferdinand Porsche’s goal in building his first cars, to create the drive experience he dreamed of and to share it with the world. He, and then his company, continually tinkered with the details to get it right. The 911, which has been a crowning glory and iconic vehicle for the brand, has been around for a while, and the most recent redesign was actually a contender for World Performance Car in 2020. But for 2021, Porsche gave the 911 an engine upgrade that experts tout as the ultimate Porsche. We haven’t driven it yet but it’s definitely on our bucket list. We love the innovation that Porsche brings to its vehicles and to the industry, including the Taycan all electric sports car that took two World Car Awards honors in 2020.
World Urban Car: Honda e
This is one smart cutie pie EV and dang, do we wish it was available on US shores. It has a glass dash that spans the front of the cabin and incorporates 5 screens. It has a cute face that gives a design nod to the original Honda Civic. It’s small, agile and fun to drive. But alas, we will have to long for it from afar and simply hope it makes it to the US. But for now, what it means is that millions of drivers in large cities and small towns across Asia, Europe and beyond have access to a really great emissions-free vehicle and do their part to help stem the damage of climate change.
It likely will come to the US when it’s a better fit: it only has a driving range of 100 miles, perfect for getting around small towns in Europe and Asia, not great for traversing suburban sprawl America, so bigger battery capacity is a must. We got a look at it on World Car TV from our friend Guilherme Costa in Portugal, and after taking a look, we’re even more excited to take it for a spin.
You can see all the World Car Awards winners here, as well as the finalists for each award. And I hope you take a look. Seeing what the auto industry is up to will give you hope for the future.