Car of the Year 2022: the criteria
This year, we invited a single variation approved by the judges during the preliminaries to best represent the virtues of the model line. The goal is to assess every aspect of a car’s function, taking into account its intended role. Simply put, we seek complete satisfaction. The scores therefore reflect the presence or absence of excellence in a multitude of areas.
Every aspect of design is considered, always in relation to purpose and price: vehicle packaging efficiency; total user-friendliness, in particular the interior layout, flexibility and ergonomics; quality of materials and assembly; visual and tactile pleasure.
Driving dynamics takes into account all driving characteristics and their suitability for the role of the car. We seek a smooth harmony in the interaction between tires, suspension, steering and brakes.
Comfort is crucial: ride quality over varied surfaces is a major factor, but seating and space, as well as overall smoothness, quietness and noise quality are also important.
Transmission evaluation encompasses all aspects of engine performance and transmission behavior.
Today’s state of the art is tomorrow’s ordinary. Significant innovations are not common, but are recognized at COTY when an automaker delivers its products. Incremental improvements only evaluate incremental adjustments to a vehicle’s score against this criterion.
Technical advances in all areas must be evaluated: innovative materials and engineering; base vehicle system improvements; brand new features. We ignore the hype and excitement that often accompanies novelty; the question here is whether new technology can actually improve the driving or ownership experience.
In cases where a manufacturer fails to equip a car with widely adopted and valid technology, its score against this criterion reflects the omission.
Our main concern here is energy efficiency, whether it’s fossil fuels or electricity. Real-world results collected during the COTY program and past road tests carry more weight than official government-mandated test results.
Fuel is a significant part of the running cost of any conventional or hybrid car. For any type of fossil fuel, there is a directly proportional relationship between the amount burned and the CO2 emitted. There is therefore a very strong link between a car’s fuel consumption and its gas production, which is the main cause of climate change.
The exception here is electric cars, which are inherently much more energy efficient and offer at least the option of using zero or low emission power sources. Their efficiency also translates into low running costs. Judges can also fine-tune efficiency scores upwards in recognition of steps taken to stimulate the use of recycled materials.
Passive and active safety are assessed separately and an overall score is assigned against this criterion. In both categories, it is imperative to reward the installation of advanced and effective security technology.
The effectiveness of certain active safety systems, including ABS and ESC, is evaluated by judges during the COTY test program. Passive security scores
are based, where possible, on published data from independent testing. Where none are available, we consider a vehicle’s range of standard passive safety equipment and options and the manufacturer’s achievements in this area.
For passive and active safety, we focus on vehicle occupant protection technologies that work. Only in the absence of independent information are the manufacturer’s claims taken into account. In addition to car occupants, other road users and pedestrians are taken into account.
Affordability is the big thing here. But we pursue excellence, even at the lowest prices, and above-average engineering and design at all costs. A bad car can be very cheap, but never cheap enough to be good value. And an expensive car that isn’t extremely good is even worse.
Second, we assess how the car compares to its market counterparts in terms of space, quality, equipment, refinement, comfort and competence. We also factor in running costs, including expected depreciation and maintenance.
Finally, we weight the price of any special efficiency technology against the degree of cost reduction it brings and adjust the scores accordingly.