“World Car of the Year 2018” is quickly edging towards the round of voting that will create a shortlist of ten finalists as it builds up to the traditional late March announcement of the winning car with Alfa Romeo’s Giulia sedan expected to sail through to the final round and become one of the favourites to scoop the prestigious honour.
A programme of testing kicked off in September after the entries for the 2018 edition of “World Car of the Year” were announced. That will come to an end on 12 January when the jurors complete their first round of voting. The final ten cars eligible for “World Car of the Year 2018” will be revealed on 23 January along with the other categories, including “World Performance Car of the Year 2018” where Alfa Romeo is also represented.
That will give way to a second round of testing and the three finalists will be announced at the Geneva Motor Show on 6 March before the winners are crowned a couple of weeks later at the New York Motor Show.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is well represented by the Alfa Romeo Giulia which is expected to make the final shortlist, although whether it can reach the summit remains open to question as there is very strong opposition this year for the highly prestigious title of “World Car of the Year 2018”. Also in the running for the award, albeit as an outsider, is Alfa Romeo’s new Stelvio SUV.
Key rivals include the BMW X3, Ford Fiesta, Honda Accord, Kia Stinger, Land Rover Discovery, Mazda CX-5, Nissan LEAF and Micra, Peugeot 3008, Range Rover Velar, Renault Koloes, SEAT Ibiza, VW’s Arteon, Polo and T-Roc, as well as the Toyota Camry and Volvo XC60. Also in the running from FCA is the Jeep Compass while the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is a contender in the "World Green Car of the Year" category.
In its new ‘Quadrifoglio’ format the Giulia will also be eligible for the “World Performance Car of the Year 2018” title where rivals will include the Ferrari Portofino, BMW M5, Lexus LS 500 and VW Polo GTi as well as two contenders from Audi, the RS3 and RS5.
Meanwhile at the end of the year the World Car Awards jurors gather in Los Angeles for a chance to drive many of the cars. For this year, 35 jurors from a dozen countries spent a five-day period evaluating 23 eligible cars from Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Honda, Hyundai, Jeep, Kia, Land Rover, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota and Volvo.
The L.A. Test Drives event enables international jurors to evaluate cars that may not be available in their local market, and for everyone to test those cars on a perfect testbed of American roads.
The two Alfa Romeo models on the list both got the thumbs up from the jurors. “In the often talked about marriage between Fiat and Chrysler, Alfa Romeo looked in danger of becoming the forgotten son,” said Mike Rutherford (Auto Express, BBC TV and radio) afterwards. “But the legendary marque is back - with Giulia, arguably its best model for years and perhaps even a Word Car trophy winner of the near future. It’s powerful. looks the part, performs, excites, is competitively priced and has exclusivity written all over it because Alfas tend to be built in comparatively low volumes. True, the interior is a bit disappointing because it lacks character and has too few Alfa touches. But this fact shouldn’t detract from the overall package which could make the Giulia a genuine contender for World Car glory early next year.”
Meanwhile Sami Haj-Assaad (Autoguide.com, Toronto Star) said of the Stelvio: “A vehicle that never felt as big as it was, the Stelvio felt right at home on the curves of Angeles Crest. I couldn’t get over how much fun this crossover was to drive, and it’s quite striking to look at as well. I lost count of all the glances that other motorists and pedestrians shot my way, meaning that Alfa Romeo has succeeded in making a splash in this segment.”
Also tested during the Los Angeles event, this time in the “World Performance Car” category, was the high-performance Giulia Quadrifoglio. “Alfa Romeo’s Giulia is as thrilling to drive as it is stunning to behold,” commented Steven Ewing (Managing Editor, Motor1.com – Los Angeles). “This Quadrifoglio version is a bona fide sports car, and one of the best-driving vehicles I’ve tested all year. I could have driven it on our canyon road test loop forever.”