In an automotive landscape where ever more car makers looking to position themselves in an elusively ill-defined ‘premium’ segment for greater desirability and bigger profit margins, the MG HS’s victory at the 2020 Middle East Car of the Year (MECOTY) awards comes as vindication for the idea that a car can offer both good value and premium features. Beating out close competition from supercars and high-end luxury cars, the Chinese-built and owned British brand’s top Car of the Year honour and Sub-Compact Crossover and Sub-Compact Sedan wins for the MG HS and MG 5 models respectively, is a timely reminder of China’s growing maturity and sophistication as a car-making nation.
While value for money is ever more important for many car buyers in the region during the current economic climate, this however doesn’t necessarily affect the top end of the prestige brand car market. That said, and at a diametrically opposite end of the automotive world, Italian supercar maker and member of the wider Volkswagen group member, Lamborghini proved to be the other big 2020 MECOTY winner. Scooping up category wins for all its nominated models, Lamborghini collected prizes for the Midsize Premium Performance SUV, Premium Performance Coupe, Premium Performance Convertible and Supercar categories, not to mention the Huracan Evo and Urus models being ranked among the top prize finalists.
Sticking with the prestige end of the market, British ultra-luxury brands also fared well at MECOTY 2020, with the beautiful and brutally quick Aston Martin DBS Superleggera winning the Luxury Performance Coupe category. The Bentley Continental GTC meanwhile won best Luxury Performance Convertible, beating out the convertible version DBS Superleggera Volante, but the Bentley Bentayga Speed lost out to the Lamborghini Urus in the Midsize Premium Performance SUV category. Making a big impression, the Bentley Flying Spur meanwhile garnered a narrow win over the Rolls Royce Phantom VII in the Large Luxury Sedan segment, and positioned as a COTY finalist.
Announced earlier than scheduled this year, the MECOTY awards included two category awards for two nominations for Audi and one win for one nomination for Volvo. Both traditional high award performers, Audi scooped Midsize Executive Sportback and Sub-Compact Premium Crossover victories for the RS5 Sportback and Q3 models respectively, while the Volvo S60 took the Midsize Executive Sedan prize. In the premium segment, the more attainable Land Rover Discovery Sport meanwhile beat its own more upmarket Range Rover Evoque sister model for the Compact Premium SUV prize, while the stylish, impressive and ambitious new Mazda 3 won best Compact Sedan against the MG 6, Ford Escort and Toyota Corolla.
Another strong MECOTY performer, Ford thrice claimed victory over its traditional General Motors rival in the Full-Size Truck, Compact Crossover and Midsize Premium SUV Coupe categories, where the Ford F150, and Ford Edge and its premium Lincoln Nautilus cousin defeated the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, Chevrolet Blazer, and Cadillac XT5, respectively. Making a big mark on MECOTY, Mitsubishi meanwhile scored three category victories of four nominations, picking up best Compact Crossover (Hybrid), Midsize SUV and Midsize Truck awards for the Outlander PHEV, Montero Sport and L200 models respectively. Trailing behind Midsize Sedan category winner Volkswagen Passat, the Peugeot 508 however took home the non-jury Public COTY online popular vote award.
Established in 2014, MECOTY is organized by Custom Events L.L.C., and is the Middle East’s only independent automotive awards, and is comprised of a 14-member jury panel of specialized automotive print, online and TV journalists and media representing the UAE, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar who bring a wide range of experience and outlooks. Starting with a nomination process to include the best recently launched and available car in the broad Middle East region, the jury panel’s scoring and voting process is based on ten criteria, which are assessed through evaluation test drives throughout the year.
Usually revealed at a gala ceremony at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre Motor Show at the end of the month, the MECOTY results were instead announced early online this year in response to limit public gatherings in the wake of the global Coronavirus outbreak.
MECOTY 2020 Highlights
Middle East Car of the Year (COTY) & Best Sub-Compact Crossover: MG HS
A car that seemingly has it all, the MG HS is the biggest sign yet of great things to come from the Chinese owned and operated British brand. A modern and practical crossover SUV that with a sense of sporty style that hints at the brand’s past, the HS is thoroughly well equipped and boasts a sporty leather-lined cabin with body-hugging sports seats in top Trophy spec. Keenly priced, comfortable and refined, the HS also boasts a powerful and flexible 228BHP low-rev, high torque turbocharged 2-litre engine.
Best Premium Performance Coupe & COTY finalist: Lamborghini Huracan Evo
A revised and restyled incarnation of the smaller of Lamborghini’s two supercar lines, the Huracan Evo remains refreshing and exhilarating with mid-engine weighting, four-wheel-drive road-holding and a scintillating 631BHP naturally-aspirated 5.2-litre V10 engine, lifted from the outgoing version’s special high performance Performante edition. Inside, the Evo gains better more user-friendly infotainment and instrumentation, while its design incorporates some passive airflow management tricks gleaned from the Performante, if active ones. Meanwhile underneath its striking style, the Evo also gains four-wheel-steering, which proves transformative in enhancing agility, maneuverability and stability.
Best Large Luxury Sedan & COTY finalist: Bentley Flying Spur
Coinciding with the ultra-luxury British brand’s centenary, the new Bentley Flying Spur is larger and more luxurious, yet sportier than its predecessor. Built on a more rear-biased platform with more elegant design details and profile, the Flying Spur has yet bigger shoes to fill, and will become Bentley’s flagship once the current Mulsanne soon ceases production. Effortlessly powerful with its mighty 626BHP 6-litre twin-turbo W12 engine, the Flying Spur also boasts lavish cabin appointment, four-wheel-drive grip, high tech suspension and supple ride. It also gains four-wheel steering for enhanced agility, maneuverability and stability.
Complete list of MECOTY 2020 awards
Middle East Car of the Year (jury award): MG HS
Runner-ups: Lamborghini Huracan Evo, Lamborghini Urus, Bentley Flying Spur
Best Sub-Compact Sedan: MG 5
Other nominee: Kia Pegas
Best Compact Sedan: Mazda 3
Other nominee: MG 6, Ford Escort, Toyota Corolla
Best Midsize Sedan: Volkswagen Passat
Other nominees: Nissan Altima, Peugeot 508, Chevrolet Malibu
Best Midsize Executive Sedan: Volvo S60
Other nominee: Cadillac CTS
Best Midsize Executive Sportback: Audi RS5
Other nominee: Mercedes-Benz CLS53 AMG
Best Midsize Executive Coupe: BMW 8-Series Gran Coupe
Other nominee: Mercedes-AMG GT 40
Best Large Sedan: Nissan Maxima
Other nominee: Dodge Charger
Best Large Executive Sedan: Cadillac CT6
Other nominees: Genesis G90, Kia K900
Best Large Luxury Sedan: Bentley Flying Spur
Other nominee: Rolls Royce Phantom VIII
Best Sub-Compact Crossover: MG HS
Other nominees: Mitsubishi ASX, Honda HR-V, Kia Seltos, Hyundai Creta
Best Sub-Compact Premium Crossover: Audi Q3
Other nominee: Lexus UX
Best Compact Crossover: Ford Edge
Other nominee: Chevrolet Blazer
Best Compact Crossover (Hybrid): Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Other nominees: Kia Niro, Toyota Rav4
Best Compact Premium SUV: Land Rover Discovery Sport
Other nominees: Range Rover Evoque, Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, Infiniti QX50
Best Compact Premium Performance SUV: Mercedes-AMG GLC43
Other nominee: BMW X4 M
Best Midsize SUV: Mitsubishi Montero Sport
Other nominees: Hyundai Palisade, MG RX8, Kia Telluride, GMC Acadia
Best Midsize Premium SUV Coupe: Lincoln Nautilus
Other nominee: Mercedes-AMG GLE-Class, Cadillac XT5
Best Midsize Premium Performance SUV: BMW X6 M
Other nominees: Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Coupe, Porsche Cayenne Coupe
Best Midsize Premium Performance SUV: Lamborghini Urus
Other nominee: Bentley Bentayga Speed
Best Large Premium SUV: Cadillac XT6
Other nominees: Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class, BMW X7
Best Midsize Truck: Mitsubishi L200
Other nominees: Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux
Best Full-size Truck: Ford F150
Other nominees: Chevrolet Silverado Trail Boss, GMC Sierra
Best Premium Performance Hatchback: Mini Clubman JCW
Other nominee: Mercedes-AMG A45 S
Best Performance Coupe: Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Other nominees: BMW Z4, Toyota Supra
Best Premium Performance Coupe: Lamborghini Huracan Evo
Other nominee: Porsche Carrera 4S
Best Premium Performance Convertible: Lamborghini Huracan Evo Spyder
Other nominees: Mercedes-AMG C63 S Cabrio, Porsche Carrera 4S Cabrio
Best Luxury Performance Coupe: Aston Martin DBS Superleggera
Other nominee: BMW 8-Series Coupe
Best Luxury Performance Convertible: Bentley Continental GTC
Other nominee: Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante
Best Supercar: Lamborghini Aventador SVJ Roadster
Other nominees: McLaren GT, Ferrari F8 Tributo, Mercedes-AMG GTR Pro
Public Car of the Year (non-jury): Peugeot 508