THE STRAITS TIMES CAR OF THE YEAR 2018

Race is on: ST Car of the Year to be announced on Dec 29

Clockwise from top left: Volvo XC40, Renault Megane RS, Lexus ES and Kia Stinger.
Clockwise from top left: Volvo XC40, Renault Megane RS, Lexus ES and Kia Stinger.PHOTOS: ST FILE
1. Volvo XC40: From Volvo's exquisitely designed line-up of SUVs, the 2-litre turbo T5 comes with all-wheel-drive, an off-road drive mode and a respectable wading depth of 450mm.
1. Volvo XC40: From Volvo's exquisitely designed line-up of SUVs, the 2-litre turbo T5 comes with all-wheel-drive, an off-road drive mode and a respectable wading depth of 450mm. PHOTO: ST FILE
HYUNDAI IONIQ ELECTRIC RENAULT MEGANE RS VOLVO XC40 AUDI RS4 SKODA KODIAQ SKODA SUPERB KIA STINGER BMW M5 SUZUKI SWIFT LEXUS ES
2. BMW M5: All-wheel-drive tames this enormous, powerful sedan. Still, this beast with a 3.4-second century sprint is not to be trifled with. PHOTO: ST FILE
HYUNDAI IONIQ ELECTRIC RENAULT MEGANE RS VOLVO XC40 AUDI RS4 SKODA KODIAQ SKODA SUPERB KIA STINGER BMW M5 SUZUKI SWIFT LEXUS ES
3. Skoda Superb: An executive sedan which rivals Mercedes-Benz in ride quality.PHOTO: ST FILE
HYUNDAI IONIQ ELECTRIC RENAULT MEGANE RS VOLVO XC40 AUDI RS4 SKODA KODIAQ SKODA SUPERB KIA STINGER BMW M5 SUZUKI SWIFT LEXUS ES
4. Lexus ES: The most refined sedan, offering a hard-to-match level of smoothness, ride and handling, not to mention unrivalled quietness.PHOTO: ST FILE
HYUNDAI IONIQ ELECTRIC RENAULT MEGANE RS VOLVO XC40 AUDI RS4 SKODA KODIAQ SKODA SUPERB KIA STINGER BMW M5 SUZUKI SWIFT LEXUS ES
5. Kia Stinger: The Korean brand's "four-door coupe" comes with either a 2-litre or a no-holds-barred 3.3 V6. Force-fed by two turbos, the 3.3-litre makes 365bhp and 510Nm of torque from 1,300rpm.PHOTO: ST FILE
HYUNDAI IONIQ ELECTRIC RENAULT MEGANE RS VOLVO XC40 AUDI RS4 SKODA KODIAQ SKODA SUPERB KIA STINGER BMW M5 SUZUKI SWIFT LEXUS ES
6. Skoda Kodiaq: A 2-litre turbo compact SUV with an extraordinarily long wheelbase and many useful features.PHOTO: ST FILE
HYUNDAI IONIQ ELECTRIC RENAULT MEGANE RS VOLVO XC40 AUDI RS4 SKODA KODIAQ SKODA SUPERB KIA STINGER BMW M5 SUZUKI SWIFT LEXUS ES
7. Suzuki Swift: This well-designed hatch is the most driveable 1-litre in town. It has a roomy cabin and a competitive price tag.PHOTO: ST FILE
HYUNDAI IONIQ ELECTRIC RENAULT MEGANE RS VOLVO XC40 AUDI RS4 SKODA KODIAQ SKODA SUPERB KIA STINGER BMW M5 SUZUKI SWIFT LEXUS ES
8. Audi RS4: Available as an Avant (wagon), this all-time performance car from Audi combines practicality and unbridled fun.PHOTO: ST FILE
HYUNDAI IONIQ ELECTRIC RENAULT MEGANE RS VOLVO XC40 AUDI RS4 SKODA KODIAQ SKODA SUPERB KIA STINGER BMW M5 SUZUKI SWIFT LEXUS ES
9. Renault Megane RS: This performance variant of the Megane makes the best of a relatively modest power plant (1.8-litre turbo). For good measure, it has a jaw-dropping design.PHOTO: ST FILE
HYUNDAI IONIQ ELECTRIC RENAULT MEGANE RS VOLVO XC40 AUDI RS4 SKODA KODIAQ SKODA SUPERB KIA STINGER BMW M5 SUZUKI SWIFT LEXUS ES
10. Hyundai Ioniq Electric: The first mass-market electric car here offers a real-world mileage of 200km. It is inexpensive to run, with a petrol equivalent consumption of more than 32km per litre.PHOTO: ST FILE

The ST Car of the Year will be announced on Dec 29

Where have the months gone? It is time to pick The Straits Times Car of the Year again.

As in previous years, 10 cars are shortlisted out of 50 or so new models launched this year.

But unlike recent years, when sport-utility vehicles and crossovers dominated, this year's list is a good mix of SUVs, performance models, executive sedans, a subcompact hatch, as well as an electric car.

More interestingly, Skoda has made it to the honour roll - and with two cars, no less.

That is a feat, considering that the Volkswagen-owned Czech brand had just returned to the Singapore market after a four-year absence.

Nationality-wise, the shortlisted cars this year are well-represented. The two Czech cars aside, there are two Korean cars (Kia Stinger and Hyundai Ioniq Electric), two Japanese (Lexus ES and Suzuki Swift), two Germans (Audi RS4 and BMW M5), one French (Renault Megane RS) and one Chinese-owned Swede (Volvo XC40).

The judges looked at all the new models that were launched in the 12-month period starting from the middle of November last year.

Only cars brought in by authorised agents were considered. And to remain relevant to as many readers as possible, only cars priced at $750,000 or less were considered.

The costliest nominee this year is the BMW M5, which is going for just above $500,000.

The least expensive is the Suzuki Swift, a cheerful subcompact starting from $69,900.

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 crucial qualities.

Some are arranging refresher test drives before ticking the various boxes on a scorecard.

The car that scores the highest will be named ST Car of the Year 2018.

The current shortlist of 10 nominees is a distilled form of a longer list.

The cars on that preliminary list which did not make it to the final shortlist - but which still deserve some merit for standing out among 50 cars - include the Hyundai i30, Volkswagen Polo, Peugeot 5008 and Subaru Forester.

This year, the panel of judges is slightly smaller at 11, down from 12. Torque editor David Ting has left to join the motor industry.

He contributed to early cuts of the shortlist selection process, but did not take part in deciding the final list of 10.

Voting for the winner will begin shortly and results will be announced on Dec 29.

Vote

Which car do you think deserves to be ST Car of the Year 2018? You can have your say in an online poll here. Go to https://poll.fm/10184543. Voting ends on Friday at 10am. To help you decide, the following are short descriptions of each car:

HYUNDAI IONIQ ELECTRIC RENAULT MEGANE RS VOLVO XC40 AUDI RS4 SKODA KODIAQ SKODA SUPERB KIA STINGER BMW M5 SUZUKI SWIFT LEXUS ES
1. Volvo XC40: From Volvo's exquisitely designed line-up of SUVs, the 2-litre turbo T5 comes with all-wheel-drive, an off-road drive mode and a respectable wading depth of 450mm. PHOTO: ST FILE

HYUNDAI IONIQ ELECTRIC RENAULT MEGANE RS VOLVO XC40 AUDI RS4 SKODA KODIAQ SKODA SUPERB KIA STINGER BMW M5 SUZUKI SWIFT LEXUS ES
2. BMW M5: All-wheel-drive tames this enormous, powerful sedan. Still, this beast with a 3.4-second century sprint is not to be trifled with. PHOTO: ST FILE

HYUNDAI IONIQ ELECTRIC RENAULT MEGANE RS VOLVO XC40 AUDI RS4 SKODA KODIAQ SKODA SUPERB KIA STINGER BMW M5 SUZUKI SWIFT LEXUS ES
3. Skoda Superb: An executive sedan which rivals Mercedes-Benz in ride quality. PHOTO: ST FILE

HYUNDAI IONIQ ELECTRIC RENAULT MEGANE RS VOLVO XC40 AUDI RS4 SKODA KODIAQ SKODA SUPERB KIA STINGER BMW M5 SUZUKI SWIFT LEXUS ES
4. Lexus ES: The most refined sedan, offering a hard-to-match level of smoothness, ride and handling, not to mention unrivalled quietness. PHOTO: ST FILE

HYUNDAI IONIQ ELECTRIC RENAULT MEGANE RS VOLVO XC40 AUDI RS4 SKODA KODIAQ SKODA SUPERB KIA STINGER BMW M5 SUZUKI SWIFT LEXUS ES
5. Kia Stinger: The Korean brand's "four-door coupe" comes with either a 2-litre or a no-holds-barred 3.3 V6. Force-fed by two turbos, the 3.3-litre makes 365bhp and 510Nm of torque from 1,300rpm. PHOTO: ST FILE

HYUNDAI IONIQ ELECTRIC RENAULT MEGANE RS VOLVO XC40 AUDI RS4 SKODA KODIAQ SKODA SUPERB KIA STINGER BMW M5 SUZUKI SWIFT LEXUS ES
6. Skoda Kodiaq: A 2-litre turbo compact SUV with an extraordinarily long wheelbase and many useful features. PHOTO: ST FILE

HYUNDAI IONIQ ELECTRIC RENAULT MEGANE RS VOLVO XC40 AUDI RS4 SKODA KODIAQ SKODA SUPERB KIA STINGER BMW M5 SUZUKI SWIFT LEXUS ES
7. Suzuki Swift: This well-designed hatch is the most driveable 1-litre in town. It has a roomy cabin and a competitive price tag. PHOTO: ST FILE

HYUNDAI IONIQ ELECTRIC RENAULT MEGANE RS VOLVO XC40 AUDI RS4 SKODA KODIAQ SKODA SUPERB KIA STINGER BMW M5 SUZUKI SWIFT LEXUS ES
8. Audi RS4: Available as an Avant (wagon), this all-time performance car from Audi combines practicality and unbridled fun. PHOTO: ST FILE

HYUNDAI IONIQ ELECTRIC RENAULT MEGANE RS VOLVO XC40 AUDI RS4 SKODA KODIAQ SKODA SUPERB KIA STINGER BMW M5 SUZUKI SWIFT LEXUS ES
9. Renault Megane RS: This performance variant of the Megane makes the best of a relatively modest power plant (1.8-litre turbo). For good measure, it has a jaw-dropping design. PHOTO: ST FILE

HYUNDAI IONIQ ELECTRIC RENAULT MEGANE RS VOLVO XC40 AUDI RS4 SKODA KODIAQ SKODA SUPERB KIA STINGER BMW M5 SUZUKI SWIFT LEXUS ES
10. Hyundai Ioniq Electric: The first mass-market electric car here offers a real-world mileage of 200km. It is inexpensive to run, with a petrol equivalent consumption of more than 32km per litre. PHOTO: ST FILE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 08, 2018, with the headline 'Race is on'. Print Edition | Subscribe