SINGAPORE - The Hyundai Avante has denied the Porsche Taycan a clean sweep of results in this year's The Straits Times Car of the Year (COTY).
The sharp-looking family saloon secured the top spots for Ergonomics and Value for Money, emerging as the only car in the COTY line-up to clinch the highest marks for individual traits.
There are nine traits in total - Performance, Handling, Ride quality, Build quality, Efficiency, Ergonomics, Styling, Value for Money, and X-factor.
Nominees are judged according to how they fare in relation to their peers (including cars not in the COTY line-up), and not against each other.
Out of a possible maximum of 50 points, the well-designed Avante scored 33 for Ergonomics and 38 for Value for Money.
The average scores for the two respective traits are 28 and 23.
Chock-full of snazzy digital equipment and advanced active safety features, the car starts from around $95,000 - a competititve price point compared with Japanese sedans which are either priced similarly but are less generously equipped, or similarly equipped but costlier.
The Avante's wraparound cockpit is user-friendly, almost fatigue-free and a joy to behold.
Mr Lionel Seah, a COTY judge, says the Avante "ticks all the family car prerequisites for comfort, fuel efficiency, and spaciousness".
The freelance writer adds: "It even gets a comprehensive suite of high-tech driving aids for safer motoring, and a level of refinement uncommon to the genre."
He notes, however, that "crusty plastics... detract from an otherwise very well appointed cabin".
Another judge, medical doctor Kong Yongyao, notes that the Avante has "caught up well to the premium players".
"This confident new thing looks the business, feels the business, and does everything in every way so very excellently," he says, but adds that it is just slightly less accomplished than the "unassailable Mazda 3".
Overall, the Avante has clinched the No. 3 spot with a score of 255 - just three points behind the big, bold and brawny Land Rover Defender, this year's runner-up.
Not too shoddy for a brand which was best known for cheap but austere cars just 30 years ago.
The panel of judges
1. Christopher Tan, 61, senior correspondent, The Straits Times
2. Shreejit Changaroth, 63, engineer
3. Andre Lam, 62, dentist
4. Lynn Tan, 43, freelance writer
5. Edric Pan, 48, lawyer
6. Sarjeet Singh, 54, lawyer
7. Lionel Seah, 63, freelance writer
8. Kong Yongyao, 32, doctor
9. Toh Yong Chuan, 51, assistant news editor, The Straits Times
10. Wong Kai Yi, 31, communications manager