The Straits Times Car of the Year 2016

Decide which car deserves to be ST Car of the Year

ST VIDEO
(Clockwise from top right) BMW M2, Honda Civic 1.5 Turbo, Ford Mustang 2.3 and Audi RS 3 Sportback.
(Clockwise from top right) BMW M2, Honda Civic 1.5 Turbo, Ford Mustang 2.3 and Audi RS 3 Sportback.PHOTOS: ST FILE
Honda Legend Sport Hybrid
Honda Legend Sport HybridPHOTOS: ST FILE
Lexus GS F
Lexus GS FPHOTOS: ST FILE
Mercedes-Benz E200
Mercedes-Benz E200PHOTOS: ST FILE
Opel Astra 1.4 Turbo
Opel Astra 1.4 TurboPHOTOS: ST FILE
Toyota Prius 1.8
Toyota Prius 1.8PHOTOS: ST FILE
Volvo S90 T6AWD
Volvo S90 T6AWDPHOTOS: ST FILE

Ten nominees will vie for ST Car of the Year 2016 - four Germans, four Japanese, one Swede and one American

'Tis the season to be voting - for The Straits Times Car of the Year 2016.

Unlike last year, where crossovers and sports utility vehicles made up one-third of nominees, performance cars dominate this year's shortlist.

They are the Audi RS 3, BMW M2, Ford Mustang, Honda Legend and Lexus GS F. The fantastic five account for half of the cars shortlisted for this year's awards.

The other five are the Honda Civic, Mercedes-Benz E-class, Opel Astra, Toyota Prius and Volvo S90.

It is interesting that despite the prevailing carbon-lite sentiment sweeping the world, a car with ample grunt and pace still hogs the limelight.

 

Manufacturers certainly pay plenty of attention to these cars and rightly so. Besides promising fat profit margins, these power- drenched machines create a halo effect for the brand.

Also, few people these days care if a new sedan or SUV has meaningful improvements made to its chassis or powertrain, as long as it is resplendent with cosmetic changes and new bells and whistles.

But for performance models, each one has to be better than the previous one. It has to be quicker, faster, louder, sleeker, stiffer, easier to drive and more emotional.

This year's panel of judges, consisting of motoring journalists from The Straits Times and Torque, concur that the five muscle-bound cars are worthy contenders for ST Car of the Year.

As are the other cars in this year's line-up of four German and four Japanese brands, as well as one Swedish and one American brand.

Honda is the only brand with two nominees this year. Last year, there were a pair of BMWs (the i8 and 7-series) and a pair of Mazdas (MX-5 and Mazda 2).

The new Astra is the first Opel to make it to the shortlist.

As always, the judges have sifted through all the new models that were launched in the 12-month period starting from the middle of November last year.

There were more than 50 such launches. Only cars brought in by authorised agents were considered.

To remain relevant to as many readers as possible, cars above $750,000 were not considered.

The 10 nominees this year are each priced well below $500,000. The Honda Civic for instance, is below $130,000.

The judges are still going through the cars in the line-up and comparing each with its peers to decide how it scores on various traits.

A winner will emerge from the process and it will be made known on Dec 24.

•We re-run reviews of the 10 contenders in the following pages, plus what others say about them.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2016, with the headline 'Top car honours'. Print Edition | Subscribe