SINGAPORE - The Porsche Taycan has emerged as The Straits Times Car of the Year (COTY) 2020, with a scorecard which knocks the proverbial ball out of the park.
The first electric car from the German marque has not only clinched the overall top spot, but was also voted best in seven out of nine categories. It lost out only to the Hyundai Avante in ergonomics and value for money.
Since the awards started 18 years ago, no other car has come close to this phenomenal feat.
And unlike some years, where the top car won by a thin margin, the Taycan is streets ahead from its keenest contender - the Land Rover Defender.
It scored 344 points, 33.3 per cent more than the Defender's 258. All the other contenders had a close fight.
The third-highest scorer is the Avante with 255 points, which is 1.2 per cent lower than the Defender's. Even the lowest-scoring Nissan Kicks (the top choice among ST readers) is 29.6 per cent away from the runner-up's score - a smaller gap than the one between the No. 1 and No. 2 cars.
The Taycan's enormous lead boils down to its unique superiority. While electric cars are known to be quick and efficient, they are often clinical and sterile, lacking in emotion and warmth. The Taycan allows you to have your cake and eat it too.
From the way it looks to the way it sounds to the way it moves, the grand tourer with a lower centre of gravity than even the Porsche 911 more than matches the best among combustion-engined rivals.
It is also extraordinarily clever. With a motor driving each axle, the Taycan is a front-wheel-drive, a rear-wheel-drive and an all-wheel-drive rolled into one.
The car seems to know which mode is best for the occasion. This allows it to blast off with not a trace of wheelspin yet allows the driver to indulge in playful antics such as doughnuts and drifting. In fact, it holds the drifting record among electric cars.
In rear-wheel mode, a two-speed transmission (another unique feature) offers the Taycan 4S the efficiency of an e-car, a top velocity worthy of its nameplate (250kmh) and a four-second 0 to 100kmh sprint time which only a far costlier four-seater Porsche saloon can beat.
Mr Wong Kai Yi, a communications manager and one of the COTY judges, says: "Motoring journalists of the future will look back and see the Porsche Taycan as the car which started it all - the first performance electric car that could hold a candle to the best the gas-powered world could offer then.
"Just like the Porsche 959 of the 1990s, the electric Taycan is a technical and performance tour de force, and a high watermark for other would-be performance electric vehicles for some time to come."
Another judge, medical doctor Kong Yongyao, says the Taycan represents hope for future driving enthusiasts.
"It is proof that Porsche-ness can exist even in a silent, ultrasmooth e-mobile," Dr Kong says. "By extension, this gives us hope for Ferrari-ness, Lambo-ness, M-ness and AMG-ness to survive."
Meanwhile, hearts are also won by other contenders - picked from some 40 new models launched by authorised agents this year.
Ms Lynn Tan, a freelance writer, says the Hyundai Avante "impresses with its quiet sensibility". She adds: "It possesses a certain wow factor, not to the extent of sweeping you off your feet, but with a very well-thought-out and well-put-together package at a very attractive price point.
"It's a big leap from the previous Avante and it has definitely raised the bar in its segment - two important criteria in a COTY contender."
Lawyer Edric Pan says the Mini E is "a riot with its crazily instant acceleration and brilliantly kart-like handling".
"It is a real giggle to drive," he says, adding that the car "makes you forgive foibles such as its limited range and slightly choppy ride".
Mr Lionel Seah, another freelance writer, says the BMW 118i stands out because it is an engaging drive despite its modest drivetrain. "Get behind the wheel and it's raring to go," he says. "Premium hatchbacks don't get better than this."
2003: Volvo XC90
2004: Honda Odyssey
2005: Volkswagen Golf GTI
2006: Honda Civic
2007: Audi R8
2008: Jaguar XF
2009: Volkswagen Scirocco
2010: Jaguar XJ
2011: Range Rover Evoque
2012: Porsche 911
2013: Volkswagen Golf
2014: BMW i3
2015: BMW i8
2016: Volvo S90
2017: Lexus LC500
2018: Kia Stinger
2019: Jaguar I-Pace