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Top Gear Philippines

Japan Car of the Year 2013-2014

Last Thursday, November 21, a Japanese friend of mine from Honda Motor Company told me: "The Japan Car of the Year will be announced on Saturday."

"Which car do you think will win?" I asked her.

"The Volkswagen Golf will win," she said. "It will be the first time in the history of the award that a non-Japanese car will win it."

"Are you sure?" I inquired with a lot of doubt.

"Well, that's what my colleagues have been telling me," she answered. "That's the rumor."

"And has this been reported in the media?" I asked again.

"Oh, no," she insisted. "They will only make the announcement on Saturday."

Wow. This is big. This is some exclusive news I have in my hands.

Indeed, when I got back to my hotel, I googled "Volkswagen Golf is Japan Car of the Year" and found nothing. So either I did have a scoop with me, or my friend got it all wrong.

You see, since the Japan Car of the Year award was first handed out by the Japanese automotive press in 1980, every single winner has been a Japanese car. Check out this list of winners:

2012-2013 - Mazda CX-5
2011–2012 - Nissan Leaf
2010–2011 - Honda CR-Z
2009–2010 - Toyota Prius
2008–2009 - Toyota iQ
2007–2008 - Honda Fit
2006–2007 - Lexus LS430
2005–2006 - Mazda MX-5
2004–2005 - Honda Legend
2003–2004 - Subaru Legacy
2002–2003 - Honda Accord
2001–2002 - Honda Fit
2000–2001 - Honda Civic
1999–2000 - Toyota Vitz
1998–1999 - Toyota Altezza
1997–1998 - Toyota Prius
1996–1997 - Mitsubishi Galant
1995–1996 - Honda Civic
1994–1995 - Mitsubishi FTO
1993–1994 - Honda Accord
1992–1993 - Nissan March
1991–1992 - Honda Civic
1990–1991 - Mitsubishi Diamante
1989–1990 - Toyota Celsior
1988–1989 - Nissan Silvia
1987–1988 - Mitsubishi Galant
1986–1985 - Nissan Pulsar
1985–1986 - Honda Accord
1984–1985 - Toyota MR2
1983–1984 - Honda Civic
1982–1983 - Mazda Capella
1981–1982 - Toyota Soarer
1980–1981 - Mazda Familia

Again, every single winner of the award has been a Japanese car, which makes sense because the award is called "Japan Car of the Year." Hello? And to add to my doubts, there is another award given by the organizers, and it's called "Japan Import Car of the Year." As the award's name implies, it's for cars manufactured outside of Japan. In fact, the Golf has won this very award twice--for 2004-2005 and for 2009-2010.

So, instead of rushing the story, I sent my friend this message: "Hi. You mentioned that the Volkswagen Golf might be named Japan Car of the Year, which you said would be the first time for a non-Japanese car to do so. I just did some double-checking and found out that the award-giving body also hands out the Japan Import Car of the Year trophy. Perhaps you got confused and maybe the Golf will be given this award instead? What do you think?"

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No reply. I then assumed that even she wasn't very sure of the information that she had passed on to me.

And then, just now, two days later, I saw a message from her when I opened by mailbox: "So, the Japan Car of the Year award has been announced and it went to the Golf. It's a pity the Honda Fit lost. We were second!"

It's a pity I doubted her.

Anyway, congratulations to the Volkswagen Golf for this unprecedented achievement. Bravo! I can only hope that Volkswagen Philippines will bring it to our market soon.

Vernon B. Sarne
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