Each year, countless awards are presented to the various car manufacturers, recognising excellence in a wide range of fields.
Some, such as Motor Magazine’s Performance Car of the Year, single out the finest driver’s car, 4x4 Australia’s gong identifies the very best off-roader to roll out in the last 12 months, while Wheels Car of the Year crowns the best all-rounder, bar none.
But, while all of these automotive awards and others rely on a rigorous assessment of objective factors, none tackles the trickier subjective realm of design - except one.
Now in its fourth year, the WhichCar Style Award is presented to the vehicle that demonstrated the most exceptional design and visual innovation in the previous 12 months, and gives those models that place a heavy emphasis on aesthetics a chance to shine.
For this year’s contest, we assembled seven finalists shortlisted by the WhichCar team and presented them before a panel of nine judges. A diversity of opinion and experience is vital to arrive at the most deserving victor, which is why our panel is always recruited from an eclectic range of backgrounds and industries.
Check out our in-depth look at the panel for a detailed biography of each judge but, this year, our experts included a car design veteran, fashion authorities, lifestyle publication editors and high-end consumer product critics.
In previous years, the thorough appraisal process was conducted by a methodical static viewing of each vehicle, but this year the judges were given a second dynamic element to fully appreciate every element.
For the static stage, each car was presented with a brief introduction by WhichCar channel director Glenn Butler, outlining the model’s history, market relevance and the reasons it made the cut for 2019.
After that, Toyota Australia Design Centre founder Paul Beranger highlighted the key design signatures - both bold and subtle. Then the panel was free to explore the vehicle inside and out, and find their own highs and lows.
In the name of consistency and equality, the cars were presented individually, allowing the panel to assess each contender without distraction and in isolation, but for the new dynamic assessment element, all seven were brought together.
While a driving element of the judging process might seem more relevant to the evaluation of performance and ergonomics, our panel agreed that actually using the vehicles allowed a better appreciation of their various design elements.
It might surprise you that, among this year’s representatives from luxury European brands, there was an affordable Japanese hatchback and a one-tonne ute, but all of the seven deserved their place in the 2019 contest with notable design merit. You can view the full line-up here.
As for the winner? You’ll just have to wait until January 30, when all the year’s top performers are announced at the 2019 Australian Motoring Awards, and you’ll see all the results here first.