At an award ceremony held inside the Tokyo International Exchange Center on Tokyo Bay, the Subaru Impreza polled 420 votes to triumph over the Toyota Prius by 49 votes and win the 2017 Car of the Year Japan (COTY). In a close battle for third, the Audi A4 polled 149 votes and captured the Import Car of the Year trophy, just 4 votes ahead of the strong finishing Volvo XC90.
This win gives Subaru only its second ever COTY trophy and its first in 13 years. In accepting the award, Impreza chief engineer Kazuhiro Abe said, “When we started developing the Impreza over 4 years ago, never did I imagine I’d be standing here today with such a prestigious award. This must be what it feels like to win an Olympic gold. The Impreza’s new global platform has great meaning for the company moving forward and will underpin nearly all of our cars over the next decade. On behalf of all of my R&D team, I’d like to thank the jurors for their support of this car.”
Japan’s COTY organisation is made up of 59 jurors who each start with 25 votes and must give their most highly rated vehicle 10 votes. Their remaining 15 votes are then spread across their next best 4 cars. Each juror must vote for 5 cars out of the final Top 10.
After 20 jurors’ votes had been read out, the difference between the Impreza and Prius was only 9 votes, 138 to 129 votes respectively. So a close finished was expected. However, when the 40th juror’s votes were revealed, the Impreza’s lead had jumped to 27 votes. And in the end, the Subaru breezed it in to pick up an easy victory with 420 votes to the Prius’ 371.
The Nissan Serena captured the Innovation Award for its Propilot driver-assist, hands-free sliding door technology and clever seat arrangement, while the Daihatsu Move Canbus won the Small Mobility award for its packaging. Given high marks for its performance and handling, the BMW M2 triumphed in the Emotional Award, while the Honda NSX picked up the Car of the Year Japan steering committee’s Special Award for its revolutionary V6 twin-turbo hybrid powertrain.