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Infiniti, BMW Take Home EyesOn Design Awards in Detroit

Infiniti, BMW Take Home EyesOn Design Awards in Detroit

It was a thin field, but all winners were worthy of their awards

The Detroit Auto Show was popping this week with enough debuts and concept car unveilings to make for an action-packed week. Two cars, in particular, were honored with EyesOn Design awards, one for being the best concept in the show, and another for being the best production vehicle. The Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept and the BMW X2 SUV took home top honors in the two categories, respectively.

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Top Gear Magazine Names the Bugatti Chiron as the "Hypercar of the Year"

Top Gear Magazine Names the Bugatti Chiron as the "Hypercar of the Year"

There were plenty of worthy choices, but the Chiron reigns supreme

11 years after the Bugatti Veyron took its rightful place on top of Top Gear’s hypercar mountain, it’s successor, the Bugatti Chiron, has equaled that feat. The all-conquering supercar took home the “Hypercar of the Year” award on the strength of possessing one of the most impressive credentials of any performance car in the world today. On that front alone, the Chiron boasts an 8.0-liter quad-turbo W-16 engine that produces a staggering 1,500 horsepower and 1,180 pound-feet of torque. That translates to a sprint time to 60 mph of just 2.3 seconds and a limited top speed of 261 mph. Take out that limiter, and there’s no telling what the Chiron is capable of. Rumors have even suggested that it can reach 300 mph on a good day. It’s no wonder then that in declaring the Chiron as the “Hypercar of the Year,” the jury highlighted its incredible performance capabilities. “The thrust from rest to 100 mph (161 km/h) is insane but the way it bulldozes its way through the next 100 mph is spooky, and it just keeps going.” Hard to argue against that assessment.

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Texas Auto Writers Association - Cars of the Year

Texas Auto Writers Association - Cars of the Year

Dozens of cars evaluated at the Circuit of the Americas racetrack

Every spring, dozens of journalists from all over Texas and around the U.S. gather to compare, test, and crown the winner of the “Car of Texas.” It’s the end result of the Texas Auto Writers Association’s Springtime Auto Roundup, a large-scale competition pitting vehicles against others in their class. Segment awards include the Family Car of Texas and the Performance Car of Texas, both highly coveted by automakers. This year’s competition moved from the legendary Texas Motor Speedway to the U.S.’ only Formula One racetrack, the Circuit of the Americas outside Austin.

As a member of TAWA, I flew to Austin ahead of the two-day driving event. Automakers had shipped vehicles across the country to participate, with PR reps and members from engineering departments on hand to answer questions. Dodge even brought its pre-production Durango SRT 392 for display and Toyota brought a 50th Anniversary Corolla set up with a crash test dummy and VR goggles to demonstrate its active safety systems. The competition was certainly fierce among the 10 categories but only three vehicles would be crowned overall winners.

Continue reading for the full results.

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Guess What! Your Ford Mustang is a Girl Car

Guess What! Your Ford Mustang is a Girl Car

Sorry guys, but women have a real love affair with it, and the Focus RS isn’t far off either!

The Ford Mustang – it’s known as a man’s car, a muscle car, and one to keep your distance from at any gathering of cars. But, maybe it’s not so much of a man’s car anymore, as a group of 17 women from 14 countries have just labeled it as the Women’s Performance Car of the Year for 2016. That’s right, while the Mustang is masculine and has that muscle car goodness every man loves, women really love it too. And, it’s not the only Ford that women love. The Focus RS is also widely loved by the fairer sex as it came in a very close second, nearly earning its own Women’s Performance Car of the Year title.

“Ford Mustang is surprisingly loved by women who are after a sexy, sporty, masculine car that turns heads,” said Juliet Potter, Women’s World Car of the Year jury member from Australia. “Combining the car’s silver-screen celebrity status with real-life practicality, Mustang screams, ‘I am in control!’ and delivers the same behind the wheel with above-average grip and suspension.”

The Women’s Performance car of the Year is the only vehicle honor in the world that is granted by a panel of all women. And, one could argue that they do have really good taste, as the Mustang was given the highest award after being compared to a total of 294 competitors. The women have roared. And sorry to tell you, fellas, she doesn’t want you; she wants your Mustang. The worst part is, you don’t see women crashing mustangs at car meets, so maybe they actually know how to drive them better, too. All jokes aside, this is just one of many awards the Mustang has won over its long life, and we’re sure there are more to come. Excellent choice ladies! Now, can you please teach the men in the world how to drive them?

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The 2016 Truck Rodeo: The Full Results

The 2016 Truck Rodeo: The Full Results

The nitty-gritty on the 70-plus vehicles at TAWA’s Truck Rodeo

By now you’ve probably read how the 2017 Ford Super Duty was crowned the Truck of Texas and that the 2017 Nissan Armada won the SUV of Texas. But the Super Duty and Armada were far from the only winners at this year’s Truck Rodeo put on by the Texas Auto Writers Association.

More than 70 journalists and social media influencers descended upon the 1,623-acre Longhorn River Ranch in Dripping Springs, Texas to test approximately 71 pickup trucks, SUVs, crossovers, and commercial vehicles in TAWA’s annual event.

A total of 17 categories grouped the vehicles with their competition, ranging from compact crossovers and full-size SUVs to Off-Road pickups. Other categories included best connectivity, best technology, and best powertrain.

Keep reading for the full results.

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2017 Nissan Armada Named SUV of Texas

2017 Nissan Armada Named SUV of Texas

The Americanized Patrol gets the Lone Star State’s approval

The 2017 Nissan Armada was named the SUV of Texas in the 2016 Truck Rodeo competition held by the Texas Auto Writers Association. The grueling, two-day evaluation process took place on the 1,632-acre Longhorn River Ranch in Dripping Springs, Texas and included more than 70 trucks, SUVs, and crossovers from across the industry. More than 70 TAWA members, yours truly included, drove the vehicles in a variety of on-road and challenging off-road courses that pushed vehicles to their limits. As voting concluded, it was the all-new Armada that scored more points for the title honor of SUV of Texas.

"We’re honored to have the all-new 2017 Nissan Armada recognized by the SUV experts of the Texas Auto Writers Association," said Fred Diaz, division vice president and general manager of North America Trucks and Light Commercial Vehicles. "Armada provides a unique combination of luxury, power, and utility, including best-in-class standard towing and a suite of advanced Nissan Safety Shield technologies such as Predictive Forward Collision Warning and Backup Collision Intervention."

As Diaz points out, several of the Armada’s features stand out. Its towing capacity is rated at 8,500 pounds thanks to its 5.6-liter Endurance V-8 it shares with the Titan and Titan XD. The engine kicks out a respectable 390 horsepower and 394 pound-feet of torque though a seven-speed automatic transmission and optional full-time 4WD system with low range.

The Armada’s active and passive safety systems rank high with families. The suite includes Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Blind Spot Intervention, Backup Collision Intervention, and the 360-degree Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection. Interestingly enough, the Armada is the only SUV to offer Backup Collision Intervention, which automatically stops the vehicle should something come inside its path.

While the Armada is based on the global Nissan Patrol and shares most of its parts with the Infiniti QX80, the Armada’s lower price point make it a better value. A RWD Armada in the base SV trim starts at $44,400. Opting for a 4WD version with the range-topping Platinum trim sends the price to $59,990 before options. The Armada joins the 2017 Ford Super Duty and 2017 Volvo XC90 in TAWA’s top honors. The Super Duty was named the Truck of Texas and for the second year in a row, the XC90 earned the CUV of Texas.

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2017 Ford Super Duty Named Truck of Texas

2017 Ford Super Duty Named Truck of Texas

We joined the Texas Auto Writers Association in the two-day evaluation

The all-new, aluminum-intensive 2017 Ford Super Duty was named the Truck of Texas by the Texas Auto Writers Association after a grueling two-day evaluation of every new or heavily refreshed pickup on the market at the 2016 Truck Rodeo. The competition included offerings from Ram, GMC, Toyota, Nissan, and Honda.

Automotive journalists from around the country, including your truly, converge in Texas every October for this event that concludes with numerous awards covering everything from crossovers to off-road pickups. The Truck of Texas award is the highest honor and is given to the truck that shows the most improvement in its segment while embodying the spirit of Texas truck culture.

Doug Scott, Ford’s Truck Group Marketing Manager, said, “We are honored to win the ‘Truck of Texas’ award as it underscores how the all-new 2017 Ford Super Duty lineup is the toughest, smartest, and most capable truck we’ve ever built.”

Furthermore, the Super Duty also won the Heavy Duty Pickup Truck segment, beating out the 2017 Ram 2500 Limited and 2017 Ram 2500 Longhorn editions. Ram didn’t leave empty handed, however. The 2017 Power Wagon took home the Off-Road Pickup Truck category, beating out the 2017 Nissan Titan PRO-4X Crew Cab. The category also included the 2016 GMC Sierra 1500 All Terrain X and 2017 Ford F-250 4x4 Crew Cab King Ranch.

Ram also snagged the Luxury Pickup Truck category with its 2017 Ram 1500 Longhorn edition. The Full-Size Pickup Truck category was awarded to the 2017 Nissan Titan Texas Edition SL Crew Cab, with the 2017 F-150 4x4 Supercrew Lariat coming in second.

In total, more than 71 vehicles worth roughly $4 million competed in the Truck Rodeo. Approximately 70 journalists were in attendance. Last year’s winner was the 2016 Nissan Titan XD.

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1936 Lancia Astura Pininfarina Cabriolet Takes Top Honors At 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

1936 Lancia Astura Pininfarina Cabriolet Takes Top Honors At 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

An amazing, gorgeous vehicle.

Every year, Monterey Car Week serves as a venue for some of the biggest Auctions and car shows we see all year. Sunday, while being the last day of Monterey Car Week, is host to one of the most prestigious displays of historical and beautiful cars. Each year, cars are judged for things like authenticity, originality, design, elegance, and styling. At the end of the awards ceremony, each car that earned a best-in-class award is judged yet again to determine which car was the absolute best of show. This year, this prestigious award goes to a 1936 Lancia Astura Pininfarina Cabriolet owned by Richard Mattei out of Paradise Valley, Arizona.

This specific car actually has a pretty interesting history. It was one of just six cars built for a Lancia dealer in Italy. Each of the six had their own bespoke features, with the biggest feature on this model being the power time, and engraved side trim. Other features include curved side glass, a basket woven interior, wood-grained instruments, and let’s not forget the skirts covering the rear wheels. Talk about style. Rediscovered in poor condition in the 1960s, Pininfarina paid for a full restoration of the car to prevent it from being scrapped. It was later purchased by Eric Clapton. After a number of years, the Clapton sold the car back to Pininfarina where it resided in a museum. It underwent another full restoration recently, and needless to say, it was good enough to win it “Best of Show” at this years Concours d’ Elegance.

The owners were honored just to be invited to the Concours d’ Elegance this year, so you can imagine how amazing and honored they feel going home with the title of “Best of Show.” Stay tuned for updates and more high-resolution images.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance winner.

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Dodge Viper Wins An Unlikely Award

Dodge Viper Wins An Unlikely Award

Even more perplexing, the Viper has won the award four times in the last 13 years

The Dodge Viper has been making the headlines for all the wrong reasons recently. Not that it’s going to matter from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ perspective, but as the automaker prepares to once again send the Viper into the disabled list, it wouldn’t hurt for the model to get a little bit of shine, would it? How surprising is it then that the provider of good news is the Detroit Public Library’s National Automotive History Collection, which has named the Viper its most “Collectible Vehicle of the Future” for 2016.

For those not familiar with this award, the NAHC is basically predicting that models of the Viper launched in 2015 will fetch hefty sums in future auctions. The irony is overflowing on this one as the current state of the Viper doesn’t necessarily scream “future collector’s item.” On the contrary, the sports car’s paltry sales numbers are being blamed as the biggest reason why FCA is discontinuing the model for the time being. And yet, the NAHC thinks that the 2015 Viper has the potential to command frenzied bidding wars in future auctions?

Granted, the NAHC is a legitimate organization that touts itself as having “more than 600,000 documents” related to the auto industry, making it “the world’s most extensive public archive of automotive information.” The group didn’t earn that distinction by throwing out ridiculous statements and the NAHC Board of Trustees pays careful attention on the pulse of the industry to determine which model it thinks has a chance to be a future collectible.

But the Viper? It sounds silly to think about a model languishing in the sales charts being hailed as a future collectible. Even more perplexing, given the model’s tumultuous history since the turn of the century, is that the NAHC has bestowed the Viper the award three times before: 2003, 2007, and 2013. Maybe it deserved those awards at some point in its history, but there’s little indication about the 2015 Viper that points to it becoming a future must-have in any car collection.

Maybe the NAHC will be proven right 50 or so years from now. But today? It’s admittedly kind of hard to wrap our heads around the organization’s decision.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

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Ferrari's Twin-Turbo V-8 Won International Engine of the Year Award

Ferrari’s Twin-Turbo V-8 Won International Engine of the Year Award

Ferrari wins a number of awards, but none more important than the 3.9-liter being named the International Engine of the Year.

It’s unfortunate, but increasingly stiffer emissions regulations have all but killed the naturally aspirated engine in most major markets. Sports car engines that were once full of naturally aspirated soul have now been downsized and turned into exhaust-gas regurgitating whistle machines that are said to produce fewer emissions. Of course, there are benefits to turbocharging, like more power from less displacement and fewer emissions, though many say nothing can compete with the soul and growl of a naturally aspirated engine. Be that as it may, it doesn’t change the fact that Ferrari’s twin-turbo, 3.9-liter V-8 that is found in models like the Ferrari 488 GTB just received a pretty decent list of awards, including being named International Engine of the Year.

Along with being named the International Engine of the Year by 63 judges from 30 different countries, the V-8 powerplant was also given awards in the Performance Engine, New Engine, and 3.0-liter to 4.0-liter categories as well. According to Ferrari, it’s return to twin-turbo technology for its V-8 range has “set a new benchmark for turbo-charged engines.” Of course, the brand is boasting the zero-lag effect and the engine’s ability to deliver torque throughout a wide portion of the rev range.

Graham Johnson, the Co-Chairman of International Engine of the Year Awards, said, “It’s a giant leap forward for turbocharged engines in terms of efficiency, performance, and flexibility. It truly is the best engine in production today and will forever be remembered as one of the all-time greats.”

In addition to the big news about the 3.9-liter’s awards, the 6.3-liter V-12 found in the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta and the F12tdf also to the “Above 4-liter” category at the same event. As it turns out, it’s a pretty happy day for Ferrari.

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2016 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este – Recap

2016 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este – Recap

A garden party for the classic car elite

Perched on the edge of Lake Como, in the municipality of Cernobbio in Northern Italy, you’ll find the glamorous Villa d’Este hotel. Every year around springtime, this swank destination plays host to some of the most exclusive vintage automobiles on the planet, with millions upon millions of dollars in high-grade metal on display, complementing the surrounding natural beauty with handcrafted bodywork and polished tailpipes. The goal of the event is simple in theory, but highly nuanced in practice – win the hearts of those in attendance in a contest of elegance.

Think of it as a competitive automotive fashion show for the collector car upper crust, where only the most rare and highly coveted machines are invited to participate. An atmosphere of pageantry and tradition permeates throughout, creating the right environment in which to enjoy all that high-end four-wheeled sculpture.

First held in the 1929, the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este went on hiatus during WWII, only to be re-launched in the mid ‘90s as a classic car event. This year, 52 vintage automobiles showed up to the party, as did a slew of forward-looking concepts from Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, and BMW. Despite initial threats of rain, the weather was warm and sunny, with blue skies and glittering water providing the perfect backdrop for nearly nine decades of vehicular excellence.

We’ve recapped all the big happenings from this year’s event right here, including the concepts and show winners, so read on for more.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este.

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Audi Named Most Innovative Brand At The Automotive Innovations Awards

Audi Named Most Innovative Brand At The Automotive Innovations Awards

German automaker also won awards for Best "Connected Car" and Best "Vehicle Concepts/Body"

Some automakers treat awards with indifference, others treat it as motivation to be better. Audi is one of those companies in the latter group, and if it’s comments after scooping up three awards at the Automotive Innovation Awards are any indication, we may have yet to see the very best out of the Four Rings. But, those are expectations we can set aside for another day; today is all about recognizing Audi winning the "Most Innovative Premium Brand” main prize, as well as scooping up awards for its innovations in two other categories: “Connected Car” and “Vehicle Concepts/Body”.

Audi’s three awards was second only to Volkswagen, which scooped up four awards during the ceremonies in Frankfurt, Germany. In addition, the German automaker also finished second in two categories - “Conventional Drives” and “Alternative Drives” - to go with a third-place finish for the Audi Q7 in the “Innovation Strongest Model” category. As impressive as those finishes are, none is likely more important to Audi than the Most Innovative Premium Brand that it won by beating out Mercedes-Benz (2nd place) and BMW (3rd place), two of the automaker’s fiercest rivals. Dr. Stefan Knirsch, Member of the AUDI AG Board of Management for Technical Development, said it best when he described the awards as both “praise and motivation” for the company. You can add bragging rights in there too, which we know is something that’s very important for Audi and its two rivals. Likewise, Audi’s win in the “Connected Car” category came at the expense of Tesla (2nd) and once again, Mercedes (3rd). Interestingly enough, all three automakers also made up the top three places of the “Vehicle Concepts/Body” category. Audi once again took home the bacon, but it was Mercedes who finished bridesmaid with Tesla in the bottom step of the podium.

The Automotive Innovation Awards may not be as recognized as it should be, but the level of competition for these awards is arguably the most competitive. Over 1,400 innovations from 20 automakers and 50 brands were all considered for the award. The fact that Audi scooped up three awards for itself is proof that the German automaker has been as aggressive as any company in spearheading technological innovations within its own house.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

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2016 Audi RS3 R by MTM

2016 Audi RS3 R by MTM

German hot hatch gets more power under its hood

Remember when MTM released a multi-stage tuning kit for the Audi RS3 back in November 2015? Well, the German tuner’s back at it again with a new and improved program that adds more power to the hot hatch’s 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine.

As if its past works on the RS3 weren’t impressive enough, this new kit promises more power and performance for the model. Kind of appropriate that we get this program not only in time for the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, but also in a climate where the high-performance hatchback segment has become as competitive as ever.

Having said that, this kit isn’t entirely new. Some of its elements were brought over from the previous program. The only difference is that this version is bigger, better, and as fans of the RS3 will surely love, more powerful than anything MTM has built for the hot hatch model.

The only downside to the kit is that it costs a lot of money. Some might be able to afford it, but with a price tag that breaks six figures, others might just opt for something in that price range. Either way, MTM isn’t sweating about this perceived complication. In it’s own mind, it has a new program for the RS3 that’s going to turn the pocket rocket into a bonafide sports car with the numbers to match its new status.

Does MTM’s new kit for the RS3 enough to persuade customers to give it a serious look? Fortunately, we won’t have to wait too long for an answer to that question. The Audi RS3 by MTM will make its debut in Geneva before the German tuner opens up shop to take orders and/or inquiries about it.

Continue after the jump to read the full review.

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TopSpeed Awards: Car, Truck & Performance Vehicle of 2015

TopSpeed Awards: Car, Truck & Performance Vehicle of 2015

The annual TopSpeed awards are upon us again, coming at the close of the calendar year. Our writing stall turned judges have all announced their own lineup of vehicular candidates on separate pieces you can find here.

As a quick recap, each judge picked their top five contenders in each of the three categories – car, truck, and performance vehicle. Each vehicle was then assigned points according to their placement. With all the contenders submitted, the vehicle in each category with the most points wins its category. Each contender was chosen against a long list of criteria that can be found here.

That’s simple enough, right? But would you believe we had a tie? Of course, something like this could only happen in the performance vehicle category. Rest easy though, we broke the tie and will crown a winner. Just know these battles were hard-fought.

Let’s get down to it.

Click ‘Continue Reading’ for the Award winners

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2015 TopSpeed Awards: Mark's Picks

2015 TopSpeed Awards: Mark’s Picks

The 2015 model year has been an extremely exciting one that now flows into automotive history. We’ve seen the automakers stumbling inches from death while others have somehow been reborn. Vehicles are now getting better fuel economy than ever, yet horsepower and performance numbers continue to grow – though not usually from the same platform. Still, this year has been a fantastic ride full of drama, big debuts, and lots of honestly excellent cars.

It’s our job here at TopSpeed to bring you the latest news from the automotive industry and reviews of the newest products. It might be the best job in the world, second only to being an astronaut, in my book – but naming winners from this year’s crop of cars will be tough. Automakers have poured vast amounts of time and money into making products better. Cars in the last five years have risen in quality, feature content, and connectability. Those found on dealer lots in 2015 represent the latest in a century’s old industry that prides itself on creating things people desire and chase after.

Thankfully we have criteria that should make the task simpler. If you haven’t read how TopSpeed’s award system works, click here. These vehicles will be judged not against each other, but against our seven key points. Narrowing the field, contenders must be significantly refreshed or all-new for the 2015 or 2016 model year, and must have been in dealer showrooms within the 2015 calendar year.

Lastly, each of our editors will submit their top five pick for each of the three categories that include car, truck, and performance vehicle. Here are my top picks.

Armed with that info, let’s get to it.

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2015 TopSpeed Awards: Jacob's Picks

2015 TopSpeed Awards: Jacob’s Picks

There is never a time when I feel more like a massive car nerd then when I’m picking a best of list. It’s not that these kinds of lists are inherently nerdy, it’s just that I think about them far too much, and invariably go full High Fidelity. As always, my list of top picks for 2015 has been amended several times and mulled over for days. I have tried to offer up a diverse list, both when it comes to pricing and also intended function, although this comes through mostly with the trucks section.

I haven’t included any Volkswagens and I will admit that this is possibly unfair. I like VW’s cars, but I also used to love its diesels, so I feel my assessment of VW products is tainted. I’m not entirely sure any of them would have made the list anyway, but I will give the GTI an honorable mention here. I have included a couple of Audis and a Porsche too, so that kind of counts. It was a struggle not to make this list about half Ford products as well. Ford brought out a lot of new products this year, and it’s difficult not to be biased as the owner of a 2015 Ford. I resisted, perhaps wrongly, but that’s why naming the best of 2015 is a team effort.

Continue reading for the full story.

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2015 TopSpeed Awards - Ciprian's Picks

2015 TopSpeed Awards - Ciprian’s Picks

With the 2015 calendar year coming to an end, it’s time to evaluate what has happened in the industry over the last 12 months and honor the best vehicles that arrived in showrooms in our annual TopSpeed Awards. This year, we are set to crown three winners – the car, truck, and performance vehicle of the year – and to do that we’ve put together a set of criteria. You can learn more about it here.

Granted, 2015 has been an eventful year with several new or updated releases for each segment, including the three we are set to judge. With so many new vehicles to choose from, picking five nominees and judging them against the criteria has been rather difficult. But after much thorough analysis and deliberation, I’ve come up with what I consider to be the top five greatest contenders for this year’s TopSpeed awards.

Check them all about below and make sure you stick around to find out what my fellow editors picked for each category, as well as for the big announcement on January 4th, 2016, when we will reveal the winners. Also, feel free to agree or disagree with my nominations in the comments section.

Keep reading for the full story

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2015 TopSpeed Awards - Kirby's Picks

2015 TopSpeed Awards - Kirby’s Picks

Of all the things I write about here at TopSpeed, picking a “best of” list is without question the toughest one to do. Don’t get me wrong: I like the idea of trying to come up with a list of cars, trucks/SUVs, and performance cars that really stood out this year, but there’s also a lot of pressure that comes with it. Did I make the right choices? Did I forget a model that should’ve been on that list? Did I overrate a model that made it on my list? These are only a handful of questions that I’ve struggled through in the past few days as I compiled my list.

In the end, I think I managed to come up with a list that’s at least half-decent. Okay, I think I did a little better than that. As much as I wanted to include some models on my list, the inevitable last-second cuts happened in all three categories. I wish I could’ve picked more, but given the pressure that already comes with choosing five models in each category, anything more might have resulted in my head exploding.

Alas, this is my list. Feel free to agree or disagree until the cows come home.

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2015 TopSpeed Awards – Jayk's Picks

2015 TopSpeed Awards – Jayk’s Picks

It doesn’t really matter what your automotive predilections may be – 2015 was a helluva year to love cars. Technological breakthroughs and developing social perceptions continue to transform the industry on an almost daily basis, and automakers are beginning to see the inherent opportunities of this transformation, rather than just the threat to the status quo. And while no one will deny the mounting pressure to evolve, the basics of what’s positive about cars remain. Icons change, expectations change, but that original kernel of what makes four-wheeled transport so fundamentally good continues onwards. The result, at least for folks like you and me, is some truly fantastic cars.

While I’d be happy to discuss the broad strokes of trends in the car world, my purpose here is different. I’m here to highlight 15 of the best new models on the road, whether they’re economical commuters, elegant SUVs, workhorse trucks, or exotic if-I-had-the-money fantasies. While I admit that my own tastes skew towards the lightweight, affordable, and fun-to-drive, I appreciate any vehicle that taps into that original kernel of goodness, no matter what the shell on top may look like.

Continue reading for my top picks for 2015.

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2015 TopSpeed Awards - Robert's Picks

2015 TopSpeed Awards - Robert’s Picks

With 2015 coming to an end, it’s time for us look back over the year and evaluate the year as a whole. This year, we’ve decided to pick out the best cars available in 2015 from three different segments and crown them as such. Our criteria for selection was strict, but not so strict that we couldn’t have fun with our nominees.

With a year like 2015, it is hard to label out just a few cars, so I’ve picked five cars, trucks, and performance beasts to nominate as the best cars of 2015. The rest of the staff here at TopSpeed has done the same, and we’re excited to tally up the results. The winners will be crowned on January 4th, 2016, but until then, make sure to check out everybody’s picks for car of the year.

What’s your input on car of the year? Hit us up on our Facebook page, or drop a comment below to let me know what you think of my choices, or what you think is the absolute best car of 2015. Remember, only cars available this year count. Happy New Year!

Continue reading for the full story

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Upcoming Awards: TopSpeed To Crown 2015 Car, Truck, & Performance Vehicle Of The Year

Upcoming Awards: TopSpeed To Crown 2015 Car, Truck, & Performance Vehicle Of The Year

The 2015 calendar year is coming to a close, which means it’s TopSpeed’s award season. This year, we are set to crown three winners – a car, truck, and performance vehicle of the year. We’ve put together what we feel is a fair set of criteria to narrow the field of contenders and then to judge each accordingly – not against each other, but against the criteria.

In the coming weeks, TopSpeed will publish each editor’s top five picks for each of the three categories. Once all of our editors have given their submissions, we will assign points to for first through fifth place, with each vehicle racking up points between all the staff. At that point, we will crown the winners.

But before I get ahead of myself in explaining things, we’ve got to lay the ground rules. We are only considering vehicles that were available for purchase during the 2015 calendar year. This includes both the 2015 and early 2016 model years, but only if they were on sale between January 1 and December 31 of 2015. What’s more, vehicles will only be considered if they are all-new or have undergone a significant update or refresh.

So let’s take a look at the criteria. Keep reading for the full run-down.

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Ford GT Takes Top North American Concept Vehicle Award

Ford GT Takes Top North American Concept Vehicle Award

The winners of the 14th annual North American Concept Vehicle of the Year Awards were announced recently at the Concours d’Elegance of America, held at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, Michigan. Taking the win in the Production Preview Concept of the Year category was Ford’s inimitable 2017 Ford GT supercar. This is Ford’s 20th time as a category finalist and fifth category win in the award’s long history.

The awards recognize vehicles “most likely to shape the future of the automobile industry,” employing a panel of over two dozen jurors to sift through a collection of 30 entries introduced to the North American market during the Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Toronto and New York auto show circuit.

The Production Preview Concept category is for vehicle prototypes that are the basis for a model that’s already announced or planned for production. Finalists this year also included the 2016 Aston Martin Vulcan and 2015 Buick Avenir.

"The Ford GT is already one of the all-time great designs, with styling that is simultaneously breathtaking and aerodynamically functional," said juror Dan Carney. "A car for the ages."

Other winners included the 2015 Mercedes-Benz F 015 in the Concept Car of the Year category and the 2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz in the Concept Truck category.

Despite the heady competition, the Ford GT bested both the Merc and the Hyundai to also take home the award for Most Significant Concept Vehicle of 2015, earning the highest overall score among the three. It’s the second time Ford has won this top accolade, with the first coming in 2006 with the 2006 Ford Reflex Concept.

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Mazda Receives Five “Red Dot "Awards: Miata Gets Best Of Best

Mazda Receives Five “Red Dot "Awards: Miata Gets Best Of Best

Heaps of praise have been laid at the wheels of Mazda’s new 2016 Mazda MX-5, and now the automaker has yet another accolade to add to the collection. On June 29, in front of 1,200 guests at the Aalto Theater in Essen, Germany, the roadster received the Best of the Best award for exceptional, ground-breaking design in this year’s Red Dot: Product Design competition.

Accepting the Red Dot trophy was Kevin Rice, Mazda Europe’s design director, who said that one key focus of the design process was striking a balance between tradition and progress. However, he also said that, since the beginning, the MX-5 has been about creating smiles, adding “… I believe every inch of this car radiates life, movement and the promise of fun behind the wheel.”

The MX-5 is one of the latest examples of Mazda’s KODO – Soul of Motion design language. Clearly, the styling is a hit, as Mazda also managed to take home a Red Dot for outstanding design quality for its 2016 Mazda CX-3 compact SUV, plus an honorable mention for the 2016 Mazda2. In total, five new-generation Mazdas have received Red Dots. 

The Red Dot Design Awards have been around since 1955, with the Product Design being the oldest category of three. The competition is open to not just cars, but several other manufacturing fields as well, including furniture, home appliances and tools.

Last year, more than 15,500 submissions were received from 70 different countries. This year, that number was smaller, with 4,928 submissions coming in from 56 countries. A jury panel of 38 international experts assessed entries in 31 categories, evaluating each on criteria like innovation, functionality, ergonomics and ecological compatibility. Only 1.6 percent of submissions in the Product Design category received recognition. 

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