SINGAPORE - It is that time of year again. Time for us to honour the best the automotive world has to offer, time to celebrate motoring at its best, time for The Straits Times Car of the Year.
As before, it all started with a master list of all the brand new models that were launched by authorised agents between mid-November last year and the middle of last month.
This time, 55 cars were lined up initially, a record number. This excludes the various body and engine variants that each model comes with.
The nine judges from Life! and Torque (a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines) have whittled this down to a shortlist of 10 cars.
They are, in alphabetical order:
Audi A3, Audi's first subcompact sedan;
BMW i3, BMW's first mass-produced electric car, a tall hatchback;
BMW 2-series, BMW's junior coupe and convertible, derived from its 1-series;
Hyundai Genesis, its luxury sedan;
Lexus ES, a value-for-money premium sedan;
Mercedes-Benz C-class, Mercedes-Benz's biggest compact sedan yet;
Mercedes-Benz S-class, a high-tech limo with semi-autonomous functions;
Mini, the biggest Mini yet;
Porsche Macan, the carmaker's first compact sport-utility vehicle;
Toyota Corolla, a Toyota evergreen and the world's most popular car;
As you can see, sedans make up more than half of the list, reflecting, for the first time, Singapore's entrenched preference for the three-box shape.
But will the winner be a sedan? Or will it be completely unexpected?
Each judge on the panel has completed a point-based selection process. Each car has been gauged according to nine traits, including performance, handling, build quality, efficiency and styling.
The points accumulated by each car across the panel will now be tallied. As always, a clear winner will emerge, because a Car of the Year tends to be streets ahead of the pack, going by past exercises.
This year's award - the 12th iteration since the awards started in 2003 - will be celebrated in an eight-page special that will be out next Saturday.
Watch out for it.