Middle East Car Of The Year 2016: Sophisticated Swede SUV Scoops Top Prize

Stylish, safe and sophisticated, the Volvo XC90 was vindicated with the top prize at the third MECOTY awards, while other standout category winners included the McLaren 570S, Audi RS3, Ford Explorer, Jaguar XF and Mazda MX-5

Awarded top honours at the annual Middle East Car of the Year (MECOTY) ceremony, the Volvo XC90 becomes the third car to win the prestigious regional award. Voted overall Car of the Year through a thorough nomination and 10 criteria scoring process the XC90 premium SUV claimed the jury’s overall top choice in a tight contest with the McLaren 570S exotic high tech sports car hot on its heels as runner up, along with the yet more luxurious SV Autobiography version of Land Rover’s iconic Range Rover.

Pitting the best regionally available new cars against each other, the MECOTY awards is the Middle East’s only independent and most credible automotive. With a 12-member jury of established and specialist print, online and TV media motoring media of various nationalities and representing publications and outlets in the UAE, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar, MECOTY pooling together a variety of opinion and expertise.

Organized by Custom Events L.L.C. and held in conjunction with the Abu Dhabi Motor Show and Custom Show Emirates at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre in the UAE, the 2016 MECOTY ceremony comes earlier in the year than in previous years. Held last Thursday evening, the MECOTY awards ceremony features 18 different nominated categories, and special, vox pop public and overall jury awarded Car of the Year recognitions.

Scored on ten criteria each and based on juror evaluation test drives of eligible cars according to regional availability and market release dates, category winners are complemented by an overall award, chosen from a second round of voting among the top scoring vehicles. Meanwhile, the Public Car of the Year award, is based on vox pop online voting, and was won by the Audi Q7, which was coincidentally the Volvo XC90’s rival in the Midsize Premium SUV category.

Tightly contested, the MECOTY awards featured several expected winners such as the Audi RS3, Jaguar XF and Ford Explorer in their respective Premium Performance Hatchback, Midsize Executive Sedan and Midsize SUV categories. Doing well on the night, Japanese manufacturers Nissan, Mazda and Toyota each gained two category trophies, with Toyota gaining a third if one includes its’ Lexus brand’s single win. Meanwhile Audi and Jaguar Land Rover also bagged two trophies apiece.

With ups and downs for various manufacturers, even the focused and enthusiast pleasing Lotus Elise lost out to the Mazda MX-5 in the Sports Convertible category, while the glorious Lamborghini Huracan LP580-2 and 610-4 Spyder ceded prizes to the McLaren 570S and Ferrari 488 Spider in their respective Premium Performance Coupe and Premium Performance Convertible segments. Neck to neck in the Small SUV segment, the Kia Sportage bested its’ sister brand’s Hyundai Tucson, while the biggest and most unexpected upset was rugged yet refined and highly capable Ford Ranger missing out on the Midsize Truck trophy.

MECOTY 2016 Highlights

Middle East Car of the Year & Best Midsize Premium SUV: Volvo XC90

Other nominee: Audi Q7

A contrast to last year’s viscerally charged Ford Mustang MECOTY winner, this year’s top award went to the more clinical but deserving Volvo XC90. Much anticipated, the Swede SUV is the face of Volvos to come and highlights the Swedish brand’s sophisticated new design language, luxuriously minimalist interiors and versatile platform. Featuring a new 2-liter forced induction engine in all models, including a hybrid version. Strong on efficiency and safety, the XC90 features a comprehensive suite of advanced safety and semi-autonomous driving assists, bringing Volvo closer to its ambitious target of zero fatalities in its vehicles by 2020.

Best Premium Performance Coupe & Middle East Car of the Year runner-up: McLaren 570S

Other nominee: Lamborghini Huracan LP580-2

A more accessible and affordable McLaren and the first of the British high tech exotic brand’s Sport Series cars, the 570S is designed to be an involving, intuitive and agile yet less complex car. Based on the same basic 3.8-litre twin-turbo engine and carbon-fiber and aluminium frame as its’ more powerful 650S sister, the 570S however features a more traditional suspension set-up and fixed aero kit, rather than the former’s sublime hydraulic suspension and active aerodynamics. Billed as a sports car for its almost telepathic chassis and steering reflexes and connectedness, the 570S however delivers super car performance.

Best Premium Performance Hatchback: Audi RS3

Other nominee: Mercedes-Benz AMG A45

Despite giving away 14BHP and 0.1-seconds in 0-100km/h acceleration to its’ Mercedes-Benz AMG A45 rival, the Audi RS3 confidently romped home with the prize in the mega- or hyper-hatch segment. Scoring big for its composed and agile handling, the RS3 is compelling package with tidy turn-in, enormous road-holding, cornering commitment and drive-line fluency. Classy and understated for this segment, the refined RS3’s design, ergonomic cabin and 2.3-liter turbocharged engine also impressed, including the latter’s signature 5-cylinder burble and tractable low-end responsiveness.

Best Midsize Executive Sedan: Jaguar XF

Other nominee: Lexus ES350

A class act executive saloon with sleekly elegant yet athletic lines, luxurious interior, classic front-engine rear-drive layout and a host of advanced driver assistance and infotainment features, there was little doubt of the Jaguar XF’s chances in this segment. Built on a lightweight aluminium frame and with fluently crisp handling and supple smooth ride quality, the XF also scored well for its 3-litre supercharged V6 engines’ robustly consistent delivery.

Best Midsize SUV: Ford Explorer

Other nominee: Honda Pilot

Handsome, well-equipped and affordably accessible, the Ford Explorer is a tough package to beat, with 7-seat practicality, cavernous interior and extensive convenience, safety, driver assistance and infotainment systems. When first launched in 1991, the Explorer was the right car at the right time to feed into customers’ growing SUV preference with a more practical and manageable compact SUV. Now more car-like in terms of a smooth supple suspension and frame, the Explorer also features a powerful yet efficient twin-turbo direct injection twin-turbo engine.

Complete list of MECOTY 2016 awards

Middle East Car of the Year (jury award): Volvo XC90

Runner-ups: McLaren 570S, Land Rover Range Rover SV Autobiography

Best Small Sedan: Hyundai Elantra

Other nominee: Volkswagen Jetta

Best Midsize Sedan: Toyota Camry

Other nominee: Kia Optima

Best Midsize Executive Sedan: Jaguar XF

Other nominee: Lexus ES350

Best Large Sedan: Nissan Maxima

Other nominee: Dodge Charger

Best Large Performance Sedan: Cadillac CTS-V

Other nominee: Chrysler 300 SRT8

Best Large Luxury Sedan: BMW 7-Series

Other nominee: Genesis G90

Best Small SUV: Kia Sportage

Other nominee: Hyundai Tucson

Best Small Premium SUV: Lexus RX350

Other nominees: Lincoln MKX

Best Midsize SUV: Ford Explorer

Other nominee: Honda Pilot

Best Midsize Premium SUV: Volvo XC90

Other nominee: Audi Q7

Best Large SUV (and special King of the Desert award): Nissan Patrol

Other nominee: Toyota Land Cruiser

Best Midsize Premium Performance SUV: Mercedes-Benz AMG GLE63 Coupe

Other nominee: BMW X6M

Best Large Premium SUV: Land Rover Range Rover SV Autobiography

Other nominee: Lexus 570

Best Family MPV: Honda Odyssey J

Other nominee: Kia Grand Carnival

Best Midsize Truck: Toyota Hilux

Other nominee: Ford Ranger

Best Hatchback: Mazda 2

Other nominee: Opel Corsa

Best Premium Performance Hatchback: Audi RS3

Other nominee: Mercedes-Benz AMG A45

Best Compact Sports Convertible: Mazda MX-5

Other nominee: Lotus Elise

Best Compact Premium Convertible: Volkswagen Beetle

Other nominee: Mini Convertible

Best Premium Performance Coupe: McLaren 570S

Other nominee: Lamborghini Huracan LP580-2

Best Premium Performance Convertible: Ferrari 488 Spider

Other nominee: Lamborghini Huracan LP580-2

Best Premium Luxury Convertible: Rolls Royce Dawn

Other nominee: Bentley Continental GTC

Public Car of the Year: Audi Q7

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