Volvo S90, Porsche Mission E Win Designs of the Year Awards at Geneva 2016

Eighteen top designers vote by the book. (Also: buy the book!)

byBrett Berk|
Volvo S90, Porsche Mission E Win Designs of the Year Awards at Geneva 2016

For the third year running, Car Design News has appropriated the exclusive backdrop of Geneva Motor Show to announce the winners of its automotive design of the year awards. So without further ado: This year’s winner in the production car category is the handsome Volvo S90 sedan, while the Tesla-terrorizing Porsche Mission E took the trophy in the concept car category.

Eighteen of the industry’s top designers cast their votes for their three favorite vehicles in each of the two categories. To ward off the egomania for which car designers are famous, the judges can’t vote for their own designs. Also, everyone’s votes are published in the aforementioned book, so each judge can be held accountable during future job applications (and for future vendettas).

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“The Mission E took center stage very early on, so that one was a clear winner,” says Guy Bird, editor of Car Design Review, the gorgeous book that celebrates the award, nominees, judges, and voting irregularities, and acts as a kind of annual yearbook for automotive design. “The S90 went down to the wire, down to the last judging vote, so that was much closer.”

Trends in the design awards seem to reflect our growing (and often related) obsessions with alternative energy and autonomiety. We posit this is because these rank as the auto industry’s hottest topics, and the products that address them command the attention and energies of each marque’s A-Team designers. Bird concurs. Sort of.

“I think [industry execs] know that there’s competition, there’s disruption coming from outside of the industry, and they need to be on their game if they’re not going to be taken over," he says. "You know, by the Apples and the Googles and the Faradays of the world. So I think they’re aware that big changes are ahead and they’ve got to reflect that in their concepts and their pre-production stuff.”

A lifetime achievement award is also granted annually. This year’s recipient was Syd Mead, famous for designing the vehicles in science fiction films like Blade RunnerStar Trek, Tron and the underrated Keanu Reeves bombJohnny Mnemonic (fun fact: Mnemonic was directed by American painter and sculptor Robert Longo!) as well as advanced design concepts for companies like Ford and Phillips Electronics. This was a great choice, since we're finally living in the future Syd Mead designed. (Well, almost. Kind of. We wish, anyway.)

Winners, losers, judges, and junior designer-serfs looking to rub elbows with their heroes were all fêted at the Car Design Night party that was held following the Geneva show's first press day. We were unable to attend due to a prior commitment (to get wasted with some colleagues elsewhere in the city) and we were very sorry to miss it—despite a disappointing lack of violence involving protractors and colored pencils.

“I didn’t see any fights,” Bird says, but adds: “I did see a couple of designers who might have been a bit worse for wear—but in a very positive way of course.”

Here's the full run-down of nominees and winners:

2015 Production Car Design of the Year (NOMINEES)

  • Alfa Romeo Giulia
  • BMW 7 Series
  • Ford GT
  • Jaguar F-Pace
  • McLaren 570S
  • Nissan Maxima
  • Qoros 5
  • Skoda Superb
  • Toyota Prius
  • Volvo S90

2015 Concept Car Design of the Year (NOMINEES)

  • Bentley EXP10 Speed 6
  • Citroen Aircross
  • Honda Project 2&4
  • Lexus LF-SA (the luxe city car)
  • Mazda RX-Vision
  • Mercedes F015 Luxury in Motion
  • Nissan Gripz
  • Peugeot Fractal
  • Porsche Mission E
  • Suzuki Air Triser

The top three in each case were:

2015 Production Car Design of the Year

1. Volvo S90

2. Jaguar F-Pace

3. Alfa Romeo Giulia

2015 Concept Car Design of the Year

1. Porsche Mission E

2. Bentley EXP10 Speed 6

3. Peugeot Fractal