"Hyundai and Kia are now leading the way in electrification and design"
Editor-in-chief Steve Fowler thinks the success of Hyundai and Kia is a good indication of how the balance of power has shifted in the car industry
It's that time of year when I and my fellow World Car Awards judges get together in the US to drive many of the contenders for the various World Car titles, including the much-coveted Car of the Year crown.
The World Car Awards are now in their 20th year, having started by declaring the first winner – the Audi A6 – back in 2005. A series of mostly German winners followed, punctuated by the occasional Japanese model before Jaguar got in on the scene with the F-Pace in 2017 and then the all-electric I-Pace two years later. However, three out of the last four winners have been Korean, with Hyundai beating Kia by two wins to one.
That gives a good indication of how the balance of power has shifted in the car business. Korean brands are now leading the way in many respects, not least on electrification, but also – I would argue – design.
So what price another Korean win in 2024? I’ve driven one of my favourite cars of the year – the Kia EV9 – in both Korea and now the US. It arrives in the UK next month.
The big SUV has to be in with a good shout for 2024, but what about the inevitable rise of the Chinese car makers? Surprisingly – with the BYD Dolphin already being named Carbuyer Car of the Year for 2024 – there were no BYD models for us to drive in the US. However, one of the brands I’m most excited to see more of in the UK is Omoda. Its C5 family SUV is set to undercut the big-selling Nissan Qashqai by quite some margin, offering more for less – and looking very similar.
I got my first taste of an Omoda in the US, driving an American-market O5 saloon. My excitement was short-lived, though. Much as the styling inside and out was smart enough, the driving dynamics and some of the interior quality were just poor. I’ve no doubt that the C5 in the UK will be much better, but it wasn’t that long ago we were saying pretty much the same thing about Korean-made cars. And look at them now.
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