What began as a modest exercise of trying to provide a driving opportunity to willing and available jurors has now turned into a mega event. The annual World Car L.A. Test Fest or Test Drives began in 2014 to coincide with the Los Angeles Auto Show. Manufacturers have since responded more zealously with each passing year. So while in 2014 there were under 10 cars or jurors in attendance, this year's edition has 38 cars (models and variants combined) showing up! The cars range across all the categories for the annual awards - the overall World Car of the Year 2019, World Green Car, World Urban Car, World Car Design, World Performance Car and the World Luxury Car. Scroll down for a list of nominees at L.A. (These are only the cars available for the test event, and not the complete list of nominees for the 2019 World Car Awards.)
The initial idea was simply to give jurors a stab at North America specific cars not available to many. But over the years, manufacturers outside that boundary have also joined in. Like Suzuki for instance, which has had much success off late with the Ignis and Swift making the finalists' in the past 2 editions. So this year, the company has shipped in its new Jimny from Germany, since the small subcompact SUV is not sold in the USA. There are 3 cars each from BMW (M2 Competition, i8 Roadster and X2), Hyundai (Nexo, Santa Fe and Veloster N), and Toyota (Avalon Hybrid, Corolla Hatchback and RAV4 Hybrid). Honda, Jaguar, Jeep, Lexus, and Volvo have two cars, while Aston Martin, Genesis, Infiniti, Kia, McLaren, Nissan, and Suzuki have sent in one car each.
The growing response to this event is also evident in not just the enthusiasm being now shown by the global car brands, but the jurors too. There are 48 jurors from 18 countries making it to Los Angeles this year. That represents just over half the international jury that will decide the winners in the aforementioned categories in early 2019.
While there are many jurors from the USA (given they attend the L.A. Show anyway), it's a good geographical spread with many also coming in from the UK, Japan and China. There will be twelve first timers from these countries and also from Jordan, Canada and Mexico. Along with another first time attendee from Portugal, jurors from Austria, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Slovenia and Spain make up the European contingent. And adding to the Asia Pacific representation are jurors from Australia and this reporter from India.
There is a lot of attention as always on the cars nominated for World Performance Car, like the Aston Martin Vantage, BMW M2 or the McLaren 720S. Others like the Honda Clarity or Jaguar I-Pace are also strong for their green creds. And then there are other hot contenders like Hyundai Nexo or Volvo XC40 and S60.
The L.A. Test Drive event is not an official jury meet, and so it is not binding on jurors to attend. Nor are all the year's nominees present. It is simply an opportunity to drive some cars that one may otherwise not get their hands on - which helps the final vote to be more comprehensive. So expect some interesting first drive reports very soon on carandbike!
Here Are Nominees That Have Arrived In LA
|Aston Martin Vantage||World Performance Car|
|BMW X2 xDrive28i||WCOTY and World Urban Car|
|BMW i8 Roadster||WCOTY and World Green Car|
|BMW M2 Competition||World Performance Car|
|Honda Clarity PHEV||WCOTY and World Green Car|
|Honda Insight Touring||World Green Car|
|Hyundai Nexo||WCOTY and World Green Car|
|Hyundai Santa Fe||WCOTY|
|Hyundai Veloster N||World Performance Car|
|Jaguar I-PACE||WCOTY and World Green Car|
|Jeep Wrangler Sahara||WCOTY|
|Jeep Cherokee Limited||WCOTY|
|Lexus UX Hybrid||WCOTY and World Green Car|
|Lexus ES Hybrid||WCOTY and World Green Car|
|McLaren 720S||World Performance Car|
|Suzuki Jimny||WCOTY and World Urban Car|
|Toyota Avalon Hybrid||WCOTY and World Green Car|
|Toyota Corolla Hatchback||WCOTY|
|Toyota RAV4 Hybrid||WCOTY and World Green Car|