Car of the year, green cars named at Auto Show

The Volkswagen Golf GTI sped to the front of the lot Thursday morning when it was named Canadian Car of the Year at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto.

The Golf GTI, a hatchback that Globe and Mail auto journalist Petrina Gentile told Canada AM is “really fun to drive,” beat out two diesel cars to take one of the top honours from the Association of Canadian Auto Journalists.

John White, president and CEO of Volkswagen Canada, told CTV.ca’s Phil Hahn that the car of the year win will help the German automaker claim a stronger foothold in the Canadian auto market.

The Subaru Outback took the association’s other top honour when it was named Utility Vehicle of the Year. The two award winners are drawn from winners of the association’s 12 car of the year categories, announced late last year.

Thursday’s media day at the auto show, which opens to the public Friday, continued with more honours, as Peter Kent, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs, announced the winners of the government’s ecoENERGY awards.

Formerly known as the EnerGuide Awards, the ecoENERGY awards recognize the most fuel-efficient vehicles in 10 classes, from two-seater to large van.

Toyota and Honda both had vehicles in the list, offering the two Asian auto makers a brief if temporary break from negative press.

Taking the honour for mid-size vehicle was the Toyota Prius, the hybrid recently recalled worldwide for brake problems. Before announcing the award winners, Kent gave the beleaguered Japanese auto maker a bit of positive press, praising their work in green technology while acknowledging their recent spate of recalls. The Toyota Yaris was named the most fuel-efficient subcompact.

The Honda Civic Hybrid was named most fuel-efficient compact car.

Speaking with CTV News Morning, Toronto Star auto correspondent Jim Kenzie said although the recalls may have “temporary effects” on the sales performance of both brands, they both have “enough capital built up in terms of quality” to make it out of the recalls alright.

The other winners of the 2010 ecoENERGY awards by vehicle class:

Two-seater: smart for two
Full-Size: Hyundai Sonata
Station Wagon: Audi A3 TDI and Volkswagen Golf Wagon TDI Clean Diesel
Pickup truck: Ford Ranger and Mazda B2300
Special Purpose: Ford Escape Hybrid
Minivan: Mazda5
Large Van: Chevrolet Express Cargo/ GMC Savana Cargo
Before announcing the winners Thursday, Kent told reporters that 12 per cent of Canada’s emissions come from vehicles, a number that needs to go down.

The government has been recognizing the most fuel-efficient new vehicles since 1999.

The Canadian International Auto Show runs from Feb. 12 to Feb. 21 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in downtown Toronto.

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