What a farce! A BMW 530 and a Polo 1.6 tied in the competition for the title of Car of the Year for 2010? Haven’t they heard of the concept of a tie-breaker? What kind of lame competition would say that these two manifestly different cars are exactly the same when it comes to desirability, value for money, style, safety or… by the way, what kind of criteria were used to determine the winner?
The organisers told us they had a completely new system to judge the Car of the Year, and that this new system was fantastic because it was more transparent than the previous system. What a load of hogwash.
It is more transparent because they reveal the number of points awarded to each competitor and who awarded them – but they say nothing about criteria.
Nobody knows why, or on what basis, Judge X arbitrarily decided to award five points to vehicle B. How can this be transparent or relevant?
Maybe Judge X only gave points to cars with cup holders, or Judge Y, who happens to be quite tall, gave maximum points to vehicles with good headroom.
How about the selection of the judges themselves? They were chosen according to which journalists most frequently attend motor vehicle launches. In other words, organisers chose the writers who most frequently enjoyed vehicle manufacturers’ munificence to judge their cars. Now that is one way of ensuring objectivity.
What happens at these motoring launches? Usually friendly public relations women invite the motoring journalists to spend a few days at some luxury hideaway, where they can take the launch cars through their paces.
Plied with loads of fancy food and drink, the journos have a wonderful time – who wouldn’t, zooting around the countryside in some luxury European sedan, or throwing the latest pocket rocket through hairpin bends? “Mmm… The X-mobile feels great on sharp curves, even though an expert driver (like me of course) bemoans an uncalled for hint of over-steer as it threatens to fishtail out of the bend”.
Sometimes motoring journalists are even given outrageously expensive cars to use in their daily routines for a week or two. “Just so you can get a proper feel for her”.
How wonderful it must feel to be driving around in a car that costs more than your house. After enjoying this kind of treatment for a whole year – and only those who have enjoyed the treatment most often get this honour – you may be called on to judge the Car of the Year. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.
Finally, how badly can you treat the losers? The other eight cars selected for the competition must also be quite good. After all, it is a great honour to be selected as a Car of the Year finalist. But when the results are published and potential customers see that one vehicle received only 10 points, against the 91 points for the two winners, nobody is going to buy the 10-pointer. It is only one ninth as good as the winners.
Back to the drawing board, I say.