The Jaguar I-Pace electrifies as The Straits Times Car of the Year 2019

Jaguar's electric I-Pace changes the game in the crossover genre

The Jaguar I-Pace has emerged as The Straits Times Car of the Year 2019, beating the runner-up by just one point.

The Jag garnered 355 points - one of the highest among top scorers in recent years. Close behind is the Porsche 911 with 354 points.

Since the awards started in 2003, there was only one other time a car had won by such a paper-thin margin. In 2014, the BMW i3 beat the Mercedes-Benz S-class by one point to clinch the title.

Is it coincidence that the I-Pace, like the i3, is an electric car which beat an established model by one point?

The 12 judges, who are from The Straits Times and motoring magazine Torque, were suitably impressed by the winner.

Engineer Shreejit Changaroth says: "You will not come across another electric vehicle today that's better than the I-Pace."

Dentist Andre Lam was blown away by the car's relentless acceleration. "It practically flies," he says, adding that it is "one of, if not the best, Jaguars ever".

Freelance writer Lynn Tan adds: "The Jaguar I-Pace makes me excited about embracing electrification."

The I-Pace is the third Jaguar to secure pole position in the annual race, preceded by the XF and XJ saloons in 2008 and 2010 respectively. This feat is equalled by only one other brand: Volkswagen.

 

  • Winning points 

    1. Jaguar I-Pace: 355
    2. Porsche 911: 354
    3. Alpine A110: 331
    4. BMW 8-series: 313
    5. Mazda 3: 306
    6. BMW 3-series: 291
    7. Skoda Octavia RS245: 282
    8. Toyota Supra: 280
    9. Hyundai Kona Electric: 249
    10. Kia Niro EV: 239

  • Past winners

    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

The runner-up deserves mention because if it had won, it would have been the second same model to do so. The eighth-generation 911 delivers performance and comfort in equal doses, with a generous helping of styling pizzazz.

Torque editor Jeremy Chua calls it "simply staggering", while logistics trainer Lionel Seah says it is a "precision driving machine that retains its claim to fame".

In many ways, it is even better than the very accomplished seventh-generation 911, which clinched the ST Car of the Year title in 2012.

But as it turned out, the competition is slightly tougher this year.

The second runner-up is also a sports car. The Alpine A110 has many fans among the judges. ST's breaking news editor Toh Yong Chuan says: "The Alpine is a breath of fresh air."

Medical doctor Kong Yongyao says: "If sports car greatness previously meant feeling like a precisely medium-rare steak, the Alpine is a perfectly fluffy, lighter-than-air, pandan chiffon cake."

Many compare the French two-seater with the Lotus Elise, but concur that the Alpine is more comfortable. Lawyer Sarjeet Singh notes: "It is like a luxury Lotus Elise, which means you can drive it every day."

Next on the totem pole is the stunning BMW 8-series, a grand tourer which Ms Tan says is a car which "drives as good as it looks".

Following closely behind is the Mazda 3, an everyday car which stands tall even among this year's rarefied contenders.

Lawyer Edric Pan says: "No other car at this price point has had as much thought put into it."

Mr Seah adds: "The Mazda 3 is bang for your buck."

 
 
 

There are other surprises this year, including the Toyota Supra, which got into the top 10 list despite sharing the same chassis and drivetrain as the BMW Z4, which did not make it to the shortlist.

The Octavia RS245 is the third Skoda to be in the list since last year. The car combines performance and practicality in a value package.

Motorsports steward Tony Tan says: "With room for five, a sizeable boot and a price under $140,000, the Octavia RS245 is the performance bargain of 2019."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 21, 2019, with the headline 'Top Cat '. Print Edition | Subscribe