Rather than being just a popularity contest, the objective was to ensure that the WCOTY would be the product of a fair and thorough assessment process that considered the needs and wants of consumers the world over. The process began with individual jurors evaluating and rating the candidates using a variety of standardized parameters – everything from styling and quality, to performance and safety. To be eligible for the award, the vehicles had to be in production, and sold, on at least two continents during 2008.
Previous WCOTY winners were the Lexus LS460 in 2007, the BMW 3-Series in 2006 and the Audi A6 in 2005.
Meanwhile, the winner of the World Design of the Year was the Audi R8, which eclipsed the Mazda2 and Volvo C30 in the top three. The R8 was also picked as the World Performance Car of the Year, ahead of the Audi S5 and BMW M3. The award for World Green Car of the Year, meanwhile, went to the BMW 118d with Efficient Dynamics, which beat the SmartForTwo cdi and Volkswagen Passat 1.9 TDI BlueMotion in the top three.