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Refreshed and reloaded Verna wins ICOTY 2018

Our Bureau | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on December 21, 2017

Podium finish: Raghupati Singhania, Chairman & Managing Director, JK Tyre & Industries Ltd, presenting the ICOTY 2018 award to Y K Koo, Managing Director & CEO, Hyundai Motor India Ltd

Tight race: The 13th edition of the ICOTY award witnessed one of the closest contests yet between the nine contenders

Hyundai’s mid-size sedan pips the other contenders to the post

One of the most awaited and a respected annual automotive award is the Indian Car of the Year (ICOTY). Designed to be an unbiased and independent ranking of cars that were launched in India during the year, the ICOTY is modelled on the European Car of the Year, American Car of the Year and the Japanese Car of the Year. The ICOTY has also become a barometer of the Indian car market and its trends.

This year’s list of contenders and final shortlist featured some of the most competitive set of wheels slugging it out for the award. But the vehicle that eventually won the ICOTY 2018 award with the most number of votes was the Hyundai Verna. The Verna won the award with just a single point separating it and the runner-up — the Maruti Suzuki Dzire. Incidentally, these two were the only two sedans in what was otherwise a final shortlist heavily dominated by crossovers and sports utility vehicles.

Reflecting the growing appetite amongst Indian car buyers for SUVs, some of the most interesting vehicles in this category, which have also been adapted to focus on the unique needs of our market were launched this year. These included the Jeep Compass, the Skoda Kodiaq, Volkswagen Tiguan, the Renault Captur, Tata Nexon and the sporty Honda WR-V. All of these were strong contenders for the ICOTY this year. It may be recalled that the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza was the winner of the ICOTY last year.

The winner, the new Verna’s strength lies in its convincing, fresh packaging of a sedan that has already been a popular choice amongst buyers for years. Launched in August this year, the new Verna’s retuned engines, new transmissions and the much improved ride and handling dynamics, not to mention the European design language, have all contributed to making it much more appealing. But, as the vote count suggests, the Verna didn’t have it easy, thanks to the strength and quality of the other vehicles that made it to the final list, including the most talked about hatchback of the year — the Suzuki Ignis.

Jury round

Some 13 new cars launched in 2017 qualified for the award. Nine of these made it to the final list and were driven up to Khushru Patel’s stud farm in Lonavla, near Mumbai where the voting and jury round were held on December 4. Vehicles that have been manufactured or assembled in India, and have been commercially launched into the market before the end of November qualify for making it to the initial list of contenders. The models cannot be mid-cycle facelifts or minor model modifications; and as such have to be extensively reworked if a previous generation already exists in the market. The initial list is then put up for discussion amongst the jury for deciding the vehicles that make it to the final short list.

The voting itself takes place as part of the jury round, and it is a transparent and simple process. Each jury member gets to vote with a total of 25 points, which must be distributed between a minimum of five cars and the maximum number of points that can be awarded to one model is 10. This year’s ICOTY witnessed one of the toughest fights ever; and after a total of 450 points between the 18 jury members had been distributed amongst the final contenders, the winner’s score was higher by just one point. The Hyundai Verna emerged winner with 118 points and the runner-up was the Maruti Suzuki Dzire with a score of 117. The Jeep Compass took the third spot on the podium with 87 points.

ICOTY 2018 had the maximum number of jury members till date and this included Yogendra Pratap and Rahul Ghosh from Auto Today, Dhruv Behl and Ishan Raghava from Auto X, Aspi Bhathena and Sarmad Kadiri from Car India, Sirish Chandran and Aninda Sardar from Evo India, Kartik Ware and Raunak Ajinkya from Motoring World, Bob Rupani and Rohit Paradkar from Overdrive, Girish Karkera and Agasti Kaulgi from Top Gear, Muralidhar Swaminathan ( The Hindu BusinessLine), Pablo Chaterji from Mans World, Vikrant Singh and Hani Musthafa. Nine different publications were represented on the ICOTY 2018 Jury.

The eligible cars are judged on various parameters such as price, fuel efficiency, styling, comfort, safety, features, performance, practicality, technical innovation, value for money and above all suitability for Indian consumers and driving conditions. The ICOTY 2018 award was given away by Dr Raghupati Singhania, Chairman and Managing Director, JK Tyre & Industries at an elaborate function in Delhi last week. JK Tyre has been the sponsor for the award ceremony right from the inception of ICOTY in 2006.

Published on December 21, 2017
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