It’s one of the leading reasons why certain vehicles get green lit for production and sell how they do. Cars like the Hyundai Veloster find homes each month primarily due to their eye-catching designs.
Organisations such as the Good Design Awards and the World Car Design Awards exist to celebrate the best looking cars in the industry, and reward manufacturers for their efforts.
However, as the saying goes, everyone has their own opinion, and ours certainly doesn’t align with the experts’. That’s why I’m proud to present the inaugural Redline Design Awards.
In order to stand out from the aforementioned professionals, we’re doing this a bit differently. Instead of a group of elite design critics, these awards will be judged by you, the people. More on that in a moment.
Five categories will be contested. Three are based around exterior design across various segments and price points (Value, Luxury and Performance), one credits the best overall interior, and the final award decides the overall winner.
A panel of three judges sorted through the countless new models released into the Australian market over the last 12 months (September 2018 to September 2019), creating a list of three nominees for each award.
The top two in each category were then taken to the users of Instagram, with a range of people of varying demographics (from teenagers to automotive journalists) voting on their favourites. These results were collated to form the final list of award winners you see here.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the 2018-19 Redline Automotive Design Awards.
Best Value Exterior Award
This accolade is awarded to the vehicles with the best looking exteriors priced under $60,000, with neither a luxury nor performance skew.
Winner: Mazda 3 G25 Astina hatch
The Mazda easily won over judges and voters alike, thanks to its jaw-dropping design with sleek curves, a sporty rear end and finely-crafted shape. Cover the badges and the G25’s design could easily fool onlookers into thinking it’s a $50,000-plus premium German car, not a $36,990 Mazda.
2nd place: Peugeot 508 GT
The Mazda 3 G25 Astina was followed closely in the polls by the Peugeot 508 GT, the French brand’s new-generation mid-size sedan and wagon. The 508’s ‘claw’ daytime-running lights, sharp lines and sleek styling elements secured it second place, though it ultimately failed to match the Mazda’s sheer design-value-for-money.
3rd place: Ford Focus ST-Line
In third place is the fourth-generation Ford Focus ST-Line, launched in late 2018. It impressed thanks to its sporty front fascia, defined rear haunches, modern (albeit optional) 18-inch alloy wheels and overall aesthetically-pleasing design.
Best Luxury Exterior Award
This is awarded to the most aesthetically pleasing exteriors of premium-badged vehicles with a distinct bent towards luxury and comfort.
Winner: Audi Q8
The Audi took its title by the biggest margin of any award winner here, with 63 per cent of voters appreciating the Q8’s swoopy coupe-like lines, classy LED lights and wheels, and chiselled lines and styling elements.
2nd place: Volvo S60 T8 R-Design
The Volvo takes second place, thanks to its sporty front fascia, clean lines and well-crafted styling. Unfortunately, the S60’s conventional three-box layout drew voters toward the bolder Q8 and its more unconventional coupe-SUV body style.
3rd place: BMW 3 Series M Sport
BMW’s latest-generation 3 Series arrived in local showrooms in March, sporting a classy yet sporty look with chiselled headlights and taillights. However, this wasn’t enough to secure it first place in the Best Luxury Exterior category, with the S60 and Q8 pulling off a stunning upmarket design more effectively to take the crown.
Best Performance Exterior Award
This award is given to the best-looking exteriors of vehicles with a focus on performance and driver engagement.
Winner: BMW M850i Coupe
62 per cent of voters chose the M850i over the second-placed 911, adoring its stunning lines, sharp LED lights and sporty double-kidney grilles that differentiate it from the rest of BMW’s lineup. The German brand has created a performance coupe with an elegant look that is befitting of its status as a range flagship.
2nd place: Porsche 911 Carrera S
In second place is the all-new 992-generation 911 Carrera S. A full-width rear taillight, LED headlights, semi-flush door handles and smooth, widebody rear fenders all combine to create a gorgeous, modern take on the classic 911 look suitable for the late 2010s and beyond.
3rd place: Toyota GR Supra
While it may be well-proportioned and thoroughly Japanese in its design, mixed opinions regarding the Supra’s polarising creases and fake vents relegate it to third place in this contest.
Interior of the Year
This is given to the best overall interior design of any vehicle released into the Australian market in the last 12 months.
Winner: Porsche 911 Carrera S
Backing up its second-place finish in the Best Performance Exterior category, Porsche’s new 911 drew the interest of voters inside the cabin. It successfully retains the traditional look of past 911 cabins while still appearing modern and high-tech – the iconic five-dial instrument cluster has been reimagined through two digital screens, while the infotainment display is wide and mounted low like the 992’s predecessors.
2nd place: BMW X5 M Sport
Most BMW interiors are traditionally criticised for being too similar to their predecessors and devoid of design innovation, however the cabin of the new X5 is an exception. While the staple features of BMW interiors do remain – namely the tablet-style iDrive central display and rotary infotainment controller – the instrument cluster is now all-digital, and components like the climate controls and crystal shifter have been fully digitised which, combined with Merino leather and a plethora of premium surfaces, make for an interior fit to do battle with Benz and Audi’s best.
3rd place: Mazda 3 G25 Astina hatch
Mazda’s new 3 hatchback has found itself in the running for yet another award, this time thanks to its stylish interior. It features an 8.8-inch floating touchscreen neatly integrated into a sculpted leather dashboard that, in addition to a contemporary steering wheel, semi-digital instrument cluster and comfort-focused seats, exudes the atmosphere of a much more expensive vehicle.
Exterior of the Year
This is given to the best overall exterior design of any vehicle released in the last 12 months. To qualify, vehicles must have won either the Best Value, Best Luxury or Best Performance exterior awards detailed above
Winner: BMW M850i Coupe
Taking the crown as the best exterior of any vehicle the last 12 months is the BMW M850i Coupe, the winner of the earlier Best Performance Exterior category. The new 8 Series is proof that despite the polarising looks of many of its new models – namely the 1 Series and X7 – BMW still knows how to design a truly good-looking car. While not as distinctive as the original 8 Series of the 1990s, the M850i’s sporty styling and sharp design elements make it a worthy heir to the Munich brand’s flagship GT throne.
2nd place: Mazda 3 G25 Astina hatch
While it may not be the overall winner, the 2019 Mazda 3 G25 Astina hatch is easily the biggest surprise of the day.
For a humble $37,000 Mazda hatchback to sport the styling goods to stick it with six-figure German royalty the likes of BMW and Audi shows how far the Japanese brand has come in terms of exterior (and interior) design in past years, allowing it to justify its recent push upmarket. The 3’s (and recently-revealed CX-30’s) exquisite lines are just the start of Mazda’s revised styling direction, and serve as a promising sign of things to come.
3rd place: Audi Q8
Last, but not forgotten, is Audi’s first-ever coupe-SUV, the Q8. Despite easily securing the Best Luxury Exterior award – thanks to its sloping rear roofline and creased sheetmetal – the high-rider has failed to match the outright beauty of the M850i, or the crafted shape and sheer value of the Mazda 3.
That’s a wrap! Congratulations to all the winners, and an extra thanks to everyone who voted on the polls and gave their input to make these awards possible. I’m keen to see who takes the crown next year (I’m looking at you, Audi RS 6 Avant and RS 7 Sportback)… until then, thanks for reading!