Car Design News recognized the winners of the 2009 Car Design of the Year Award at last night's Car Design Night event at La Sip nightclub in Geneva. Car Design News Editor Eric Gallina presented the winning design teams at Aston Martin and General Motors for the most publicly acclaimed production and concept car designs of 2009, as voted by Car Design News readers in an online poll.
The Best Production Car Design accolade was awarded to Aston Martin Design Director Marek Reichman for the beautiful Rapide sedan unveiled in full glory at the 2009 Frankfurt motor show in September. Faithful to the concept car created by Reichman and revealed at the Detroit Auto Show in 2006, the Rapide's elegant, sporting proportions are combined with emotional surfaces and exquisite detailing. Reichman thanked the designers that voted for the vehicle and accepted the award "on behalf of a team that is very passionate about the brand".
The production Rapide narrowly edged out the Ferrari 458 Italia to first place – garnering 29 percent of the vote to the Ferrari's 28 percent – followed by the Jaguar XJ in third (with 12 percent of the vote). The new Opel Astra came in fourth place (with 10% of the vote), ahead of the VW Polo, which tied the limited production Lexus LFA supercar design for fifth place (9%). Interestingly, the Aston Martin's German rival in the premium coupe-sedan segment, the Porsche Panamera, was voted the least favorite production car design of 2009.
Accepting the award for the Best Concept Car Design of 2009 was Malcolm Ward, Exterior Chief Designer for mid-size cars at GM Europe. Ward accepted the award on behalf of the design team that worked on the Cadillac Converj concept car created by GM's UK-based Advanced Design Studio in Coventry under the direction of then Design Director Simon Cox.
The Converj concept introduced a cab-forward stance and softened Cadillac's now iconic angular design aesthetic, while the interior featured environmentally sustainable and renewable materials as well as the quintessential luxury materials sought by buyers in the premium segment. It earned 18 percent of readers' votes in our online poll, coming out just ahead of the Infiniti Essence concept (17 percent).
"Thank you for this great prize," said Ward, "I'm very proud to receive this on behalf of the team and I know the team in Detroit are also very proud to receive this award."
The Citroën Revolte and Volvo S60 show cars tied for third place in the concept car category, ahead of the Nissan Juke's prototype precursor, the Qazana, and the Volkswagen L1. The Honda U3-X (22%) was the least favorite concept design – though it cannot be defined a traditional 'car' – and the Toyota FT-EVII also fell short (18%). The Citroën Revolte also appeared in the least favorite column, with 17 percent of the vote.
CEO Lorenzo Terraneo of Miko, developer of Dinamica ecological microfiber material, and premier sponsor of the evening, also made an additional gift to each winner: two-year membership of the FAI (a trust set up on the model of the National Trust in England).
The next Car Design Night will take place in Beijing on 23 April, on the eve of the first Auto China press day. Beijing is also the venue for CDN's conference, the third Interior Motives China Conference (which will be held just prior to the auto show on 21-22 April), and the winners' announcement for our first Car Design Awards, which celebrates the best of student design talent in China.