Nine judges have assembled in Melbourne this week to decide which automotive newcomer will take home the coveted WhichCar Style Award for 2019, with seven contenders in the running for this year’s contest.
Now in its fourth year, the award recognises those vehicles which, in the past 12 months, have brought exceptional design and visual innovation to the automotive arena.
Read next: 2018 WhichCar Style Awards: An introduction
Taking out the gong in its inaugural year, Alfa Romeo’s 4C Spider wooed the judges with its svelte Italian lines and unapologetic flair, Audi took the 2017 award with its A4, while the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe was victorious in 2018 thanks to its arresting elegance and understated aesthetics.
This year, the competition pulls representative from all segments, including an affordable hatchback, a luxury sedan, SUVs a sports car and even a dual-cab ute.
Even more interestingly, four of the candidates are completely new models that have either never been seen in the brand’s ranks of at least not for many decades.
Hoping to steal back the title, Alfa Romeo’s Stelvio premium SUV rolls into Toorak showing off its unmistakable Italian facade, but follows up the promises its exterior makes with a compelling cabin and equipment package.
Read next: 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio review
Representing the German premium market this year, Audi’s all-new A7 large sedan brings a touch of Euro class wrapped up in typical Ingolstadt engineering, for a price that might surprise more than a few.
Seeing a one-tonne ute as part of a design award may raise a few eyebrows, but Ford’s Ranger Raptor has earned its place. Not only will the monstrous pick-up appeal to many on the grounds of unrivalled off-road manners, but its looks will almost certainly be accounting for a majority of orders.
Read next: 2018 Ford Ranger Raptor review
As the sole electric representative of the pack, Jaguar’s I-Pace silently glides in with not only a revolutionary drivetrain, but a design both inside and out that is as new to the leaping cat brand as its zero-emissions propulsion.
It may be hard to distinguish from its growing line-up of SUV siblings, but the Range Rover Velar still wears a design that manages to be assertive and imposing on the road but is elegant despite its high-rider proportions. While the name is new for production cars, diehard Range Rover fans will know the moniker has been resurrected having been previously applied to a series of pre-production Range Rovers in 1969.
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The sole sportscar offering this year comes form not just a revenant model but also a re-forged brand as Renault’s Alpine returns, lead by the bantamweight A110 coupe. Will the judges look past its racy exterior and performance capabilities on the level playing ground that is the Style Award?
Rounding out the line-up this year, the Toyota Corolla might not seem an obvious choice, but the panel invited the Japanese best-seller in recognition of its significant jump in aesthetic appeal from invisible to genuinely enticing.
Stay tuned to follow each contender through the process. The winner will be announced at the Australian Motoring Awards on January 30, 2019.