PLYMOUTH, MI, July 26, 2015 – The winners of the fourteenth annual North American Concept Vehicle of the Year Awards were announced this morning during a ceremony held at the Concours d’Elegance of America at St. John’s.
The awards recognize those vehicles most likely to shape the future of the automobile industry. More than two dozen jurors participated in a selection process that involved a total of 30 vehicles, each introduced to North America during this season’s auto shows in Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Toronto, and New York.
The Production Preview Concept category is for those vehicle prototypes that are the basis for a model that has already been announced or planned for production. The finalists in this category included the Aston Martin Vulcan, the Buick Avenir, and the Ford GT.
Marking the brand’s 20th time as a category finalist, and fifth time as a category winner, Ford takes the honor of 2015 Production Preview Concept of the Year with its racing-bred Ford GT. “The Ford GT is already one of the all-time great designs, with styling that is simultaneously breathtaking and aerodynamically functional,” said juror Dan Carney. “A car for the ages.”
The Concept Car category recognizes passenger-centric, long-range prototypes designed to measure market reaction to future features and models. The finalists in this category were the Audi Prologue, the Mercedes Benz F 015, and the MINI Superleggera.
Earning its fifth spot as a category finalist, and marking the brand’s first visit to the awards podium, Mercedes takes the 2015 Concept Car of the Year award with its F 015 Concept. “The Mercedes-Benz F 015 goes far beyond an interesting redesign — it takes the definition of transportation to a whole new arena,” said juror Bill Schaffer. “That’s what a concept car should do.”
The Concept Truck category recognizes those concepts where cargo carrying is a significant design consideration. The finalists in this category were the Hyundai Santa Cruz, the Kia Trail’Ster, and the Mitsubishi GC-PHEV.
Bringing the brand’s fourth category finalist spot, and third honor as a category winner, the Hyundai Santa Cruz earns the 2015 Concept Truck of the Year award. “This (the Santa Cruz) is what the light-truck category needs,” said juror Gary Vasilash, “loads of style for people without big loads.”
From amongst the winners in the Concept Car, Concept Truck and Production Preview Concept categories, the Ford GT posted the highest overall score to earn the top award as Most Significant Concept Vehicle of 2015. This award marks Ford’s second time earning the top award in the competition; the brand’s first top honor was for the Reflex Concept in 2006.
If Colin Chapman and Sophia Loren had a love child who went on to design cars, the MINI Superleggera would be one of them.
The Mercedes F 015: the best-looking living room that ever drove you to work.
The ironic thing about 4×4-ing is the damage done to the environment. The Kia Trail’ster may leave wheel marks, but the hybrid powertrain brings an unexpected touch of green-ness to the great outdoors.
The Ford GT is perhaps the ultimate expression of a supercar: carbon-fibre and aluminum sandwiches for structure, carbon-fibre passenger compartment and a 600-horsepower V-6, all wrapped up in a body as sexy as anything from Italy.
Mini Superleggera – fun, cheeky, and the design compels you to slip behind the wheel, fire it up, and drive off.
Hyundai Santa Cruz is the modern interpretation of the El Camino. The expandable bed and chunky styling give it a unique look in a “sea” of lookalike sedans and crossovers.
Buick Avenir – Hot Damn, finally a Buick my grandparents wouldn’t recognize!
Ford GT – A super car that looks the part from every angle.
Audi introduces Prologue, a sporty coupe with appealing, sleek design, a new grill and a twin turbocharged V-8 pumping out 605 HP with 0-62 MPH in 3.7 seconds. Add its all-wheel drive and steering and you just have to ask -” Who wouldn’t want this ? It is definitely worthy of award recognition.
MINI drops the top with their Superleggera, a classic designed speedster with electric power, aluminum frame and body panels, unique rear chrome ‘fin’ and striking two-part rear LED lights that resemble the “Union Jack”. This one is ready for the open road.
Mercedes Benz takes a giant leap into automotive design history with their F-015 Luxury in Motion concept. A self-driving “four-seater” with rotating lounge chairs that allow for face-to-face seating with touch controls powered by an F-Cell plug-in hybrid is definitely a futuristic vehicle.
Hyundai steps back in time when ‘sport pickups; were in vogue with their 2016 version of the Santa Cruz Concept. Accommodating five passengers, this concept vehicle was built for the Urban adventurers providing expression, efficiency and maneuverability. Features are expandable cargo bed, lockable tonneau cover, turbo diesel power and all-wheel drive. This truck is ready to be recognized as an award winner.
Ford’s winning European heritage started with the GT40, a stop in 2006-7 with a street version GT and onto the 2016 GT, storming into the US market with the WOW factor! Styling is second to none with performance and handling to match this strikingly designed beauty. Powered by an EcoBoost twin-turbo V-6, this GT pumps out 600+ HP and is a real show stopper!
GM steps forward with the Buick Avenir, a head-turning 4-door design with a sculptural surface and unique tapered rear-end styling. A modern interpretation of a 1954 Wildcat II grill anchors the front end. The front to rear center console provides the rear passengers with personal space and back seat entertainment screens. Powered by a V-6, nine-speed automatic motor with all-wheel drive, the Avenir (French for future!) says it all with sass and verve!
The Audi Prologue is a concept, yet sporting a design style which would require very few adaptions to move to a production model. Sleek and modern styling, the Prologue is a positive evolution for the Audi brand.
Kia’s Trail’Ster – a rugged AWD evolution of the current Kia Soul, would – if went into production – take a bite out of the competitor’s sales, with all of it’s unique-to-AWD features.
Vulcan: Stunning. Simply stunning.
Mercedes-Benz reveals the true nature of autonomous automobile travel with the construction of the F 015. Antiquated manual controls are secondary. Sightseeing through the large volume windscreens becomes primary as does viewing on flat screens like riding on a train. When traveling with friends this autonomous car encourages human interreaction for pure entertainment, imagine that. Of course you could give the F015 of business meeting excuse or some pretension like that. Roomy, quiet, clean, electric powerful.
Direct and simple to the point is the wonderful direction of the Santa Cruz. Attractive, purposeful and economical this light truck will fill a great need. Pleasing aerodynamics.
A beautiful world car in America. I am certain we are all looking forward to an INTERNATIONAL AMERICAN CONCEPT. Humans on all continents will enjoy the palatial interior and smooth powerful exterior of the Avenir
With radical styling and futuristic innovations throughout, the Mercedes-Benz F 015 sets a lofty standard for what can truly be called a ‘concept car.’
It’s near impossible not to drool over the Ford GT, although it would be even more impressive with a supercar-chic plug-in hybrid system.
It was extremely difficult to choose between the Mercedes-Benz F 015 and the MINI Superleggera… the former being a revolutionary vision of the future, which is what a concept car ought to provide, correct? Ultimately, the beauty and craftsmanship of the Superleggera got my first choice vote. I guess I’m a romantic.
Kia has added some rock-and-roll to the Soul, and it makes me want to dance. Playfullness got my vote.
This was a tough choice. The Aston Martin Vulcan’s profile is flabergasting, and the Buick Avenir’s rear is enticing, but ultimately my vote went to the Ford GT for being a more rounded car. The GT builds on The GT40 takes tradition forward into the future, both in design and technology. You can call me biased, but I love original GT40 in all its Mk iterations. I loved driving its reincarnation ten years ago, and I look forward to putting this new one through the paces. Ford, are you listening? Please deliver one to my driveway ASAP.
The Mercedes-Benz F 015 takes the imagination to another level.
Hard to pick top from these three. Hyundai Santa Cruz won out — the best ‘Urban Cowboy’!
The Vulcan stretches beyond reality. Love it!
If a Mini and a Miata had a baby, this would be it: a Miata-like two-seater package with Mini-quirky details like the decklid fin and arrow taillights. Making it an electric just puts it over the top.
The Santa Cruz’s expandable bed makes the idea of a mini pickup practical-and believable.
The Mercedes-Benz F 015 goes far beyond an interesting redesign — it takes the definition of transportation to a whole new arena. That’s what a concept car should do.
The Santa Cruz not only introduces Hyundai to the truck category, but it creates a new niche without sacrificing all the characteristics that make trucks so popular.
Buick has done an outstanding job of saving the brand with excellent design execution. The Avenir takes Buick to the next level — it will be an instant classic.
The Santa Cruz shows how dramatic styling can be applied to a truck.
The Superleggera is the first Mini concept stretching the brand into a new direction that is unquestionably successful. It still carries Mini cues, but the car doesn’t look like a ludicrously distorted Mini. It looks like a hot roadster that clearly comes from Mini.
Santa Cruz is a slick take on the mini truck concept that could help draw customers back to a dormant segment.
The Ford GT is already one of the all-time great designs, with styling that is simultaneously breathtaking and aerodynamically functional. A car for the ages.
Audi Concept leading to the pinnacle of German Sport Luxury. Mercedes is the benchmark and the target.
Not only is Cadillac getting a range topping luxury sedan. The Buick is going to be big in China!
The hi-tech style and design blended with an autonomous Mercedes, presents the forward thinking and potentially obtainable Mercedes in the not to distant future. Mercedes proved the car not to be just a fixed floor model but a functioning vehicle. The reaction at CES and automotive shows impressed journalist and consumers, this will help Mercedes pave a new future.
Kia has presented a fun truck that consumers really want to own, this Soul could easily become a production vehicle.
Ford has taken performance to a whole new level.Turbo charged aggressive power, ultra light weight carbon fiber chassis and components plus a design that is equal to European exotic cars.
A big design idea for MINI, which needs to create something beyond variants on rectangular boxes to keep from being increasingly microscopic in the market.
This (Santa Cruz) is what the light-truck category needs: loads of style for people without big loads.
This (GT) is the kind of design that designers lust after. And that it is something that will be built as-is takes their breath away.
The Mercedes-Benz showcases a look to the future of autonomous driving in a luxurious surrounding, with an elegant and organic form.
The Chevrolet El Camino and Ford Ranchero are living proof that there’s a market for car-like sport trucks, and the Hyundai Santa Cruz fills the bill quite nicely, while rounding out their vehicle portfolio.
The Aston Martin Vulcan is definitely a gorgeous example of a track-only supercar whose production will be limited to only 24 examples world-wide.
With the demise of the Cooper Roadster, it’s heartening to see MINI’s looking at fresh new ways to bring more sportiness into the lineup.
If the truck (Santa Cruz) is anywhere near as good as the cars have become, this might well be the Asian pickup that finally breaks through.
If ever there were to be a 21st Century Deuce and A Quarter (that’s Electra 225 for you squares) Avenir proves the idea is alive and well at Buick.
Lauren Fix is a nationally recognized automotive expert, media guest, journalist, author, keynote speaker and television host. A trusted automotive expert, Lauren provides an insider’s perspective on a wide range of automotive topics, energy and safety issues for both the auto industry and consumers. Her analysis is honest and straightforward. Follow Lauren on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram