2020 World Car of the Year: Kia Telluride

The 2020 World Car Awards had its share of challenges this year due to the coronavirus, but that hasn't stopped the winners being announced this week. Things kicked off last year at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show, where the candidates were presented to the public. Next, test drives took place before the Los Angeles Auto Show back in November. That's when the real fun began, as each juror got the chance to drive all the nominated vehicles. It was also the place where we started casting our votes.

I was fortunate to be among 86 international automotive jurors in voting for the winners for each of the six categories for the 2020 World Car Awards: World Car of the Year, World Luxury Car, World Performance Car, World Urban Car, World Car Design of the Year, and World Green Car. It's a big deal for automakers, as a strong showing can add up to a whole lot of attention when potential owners are considering their next purchase.

The festivities came to a screeching halt by March as the coronavirus pandemic spread like wildfire. This led to the imminent cancellation of the 2020 Geneva Auto Show, where yours truly and the rest of the jurors were scheduled to pick the Top Three finalists. With COVID-19 showing no signs of stopping, the 2020 New York International Auto Show – where the winners were supposed to be announced – was scrubbed.

Much like meetings, school classes, and more, things shifted online instead. Without further ado, we now know the winners of the 2020 World Car Awards, including the Top Three in the World finalists for each category.

2020 World Car of the Year: Kia Telluride

The top three finalists for World Car of the Year included the Kia Telluride, Mazda CX-30, and Mazda3. I was delighted that the Telluride won. It's hard to beat this fantastic SUV when it comes to bang for the buck.

I took the Kia Telluride for a long road trip before my induction as a juror for the 2020 World Car Awards. The entire family was left impressed with the Telluride's roominess, comfort, and practicality. More importantly, as the driver, I was in awe at the fantastic driving dynamics. It's almost as if Kia took all the learnings from the fun to drive Stinger sedan and implemented them on the Telluride. I also like the car's handsome and rugged styling, and did I mention the best bang for what you're paying? Price, as tested for my 2020 Telluride SX V6 AWD, was only $46,860, but for those on a budget, the LX can be had for a starting price of $31,890. As such, I firmly believe that the Kia Telluride deserves to be named the 2020 World Car of the Year.

The Mazda3 is a decent enough car and worthy of being on the list, but I can't help but feel Mazda is following Honda's footsteps in creating the all-new Mazda3. By that, I mean Mazda wanted the newest 3 to behave like a small luxury car instead of being a sporty compact. It still bewilders me why Mazda ditched the old independent rear suspension for an ancient torsion beam setup, all in the name of comfort and refinement. On that level it actually worked, as the new Mazda3 is noticeably quieter and smoother than its predecessor. Alas, the torsion beam switch also weakened the car's 'zoom, zoom' handling capabilities.

It's the same story in the Mazda CX-30, which is essentially a crossover version of the Mazda3. Our automotive team at SlashGear was pining for the Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 and GLB compact SUV. But I guess the clear winner in this category is hard to ignore – unless other jurors have another car in mind, that is.

2020 World Urban Car: Kia Soul EV

The top three finalists for World Urban Car include the Kia Soul EV, Mini Electric and the Volkswagen T-Cross.

Here's a fun fact: Both the Kia Soul EV and Mini Cooper SE Electric are the only all-electric vehicles in this category, and hence were pre-chosen by the SlashGear editorial team as the top picks. For us, it was a tossup between the Kia and Mini, but we had some concerns that the VW T-Cross might've pulled a Hail Mary to take home the prize.

And as expected, the Kia Soul EV won the World Urban Car award for its larger battery, longer range, and premium driving feel. Sadly, we'll need to wait a little longer for the Soul EV to go on sale in the US. It was supposed to be later this year, but due to the COVID-19 epidemic, that's now to be determined.

2020 World Luxury Car: Porsche Taycan

The top three finalists for the World Luxury Car award consist of the Mercedes-Benz EQC, Porsche 911, and the Porsche Taycan.

The Porsche 911 is a true-blue sports car. On the other hand, the Mercedes-Benz EQC and Porsche Taycan were also chosen by my team as the frontrunners in this category. The real problem is choosing between the EQC (an electric SUV) and the Taycan (Porsche's first-ever all-electric four-door performance car).

The jury has spoken. The Porsche Taycan EV is also the top choice for the World Luxury Car award.

2020 World Performance Car: Porsche Taycan

The top three finalists for the World Performance Car award were dominated by Porsche, and rightly so. Picking between the Porsche 718 Spyder/Cayman GT4, 911 Carrera 4S and the Taycan was one of the hardest tasks for me at the time of scoring the votes.

It appears that other jurors felt the same, hence giving Porsche the top spots on the podium with a brilliant array of performance cars. We initially chose either the Taycan, Audi RS6 Avant, or the BMW M8 Coupe, but at least we got one car right. Both the Cayman GT4 and 718 Spyder are amazing vehicles, but the iconic Porsche 911 and all-electric Taycan are serious contenders as well.

Between the three, my vote goes to the Porsche Taycan. Its heart and soul is a 911 when it comes to performance and handling with four doors and a longer wheelbase. It's worthy of being the World Performance Car of the Year.

2020 World Car Design of the Year: Mazda3

I'm utterly shocked the Mazda3 made the top three in this category, and it's clear I'm in the minority because it garnered enough votes to name it World Car Design of the year, beating out the Porsche Taycan and Peugeot 208. Figure me bemused.

Mazda's evolving Kodo design language has slightly grown on me, despite my gripes with the hatchback model's iffy quarter panel design. Meanwhile, the Porsche Taycan is best admired in the metal, as images and photographs just aren't doing its design justice. Of course, the Peugeot 208 is a great little thing, leaving me sad we won't see it on US roads.

On behalf of all the jurors and committees at the 2020 World Car Awards, I bid my salute to the winners of each category. Bittersweet as it may seem, my jury duty for 2020 has come to an end. But virus or not, my love for cars will never waiver.