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Jaguar i-Pace: why the 2019 Car of the Year isn't a car

Published: 14 August 2019

► Jaguar i-Pace wins
► But faces tough competition from the Alpine A110
►And both tie with 250 points 

Jaguar’s i-Pace electric crossover won Car of the Year a few months ago – just – after an unprecedented tie. The Jag scored 250 points from the jury of 60 European motoring journalists – the same points total achieved by the Alpine A110 sports car.

However, according to the Oxford Dictionary, the i-Pace cannot be classified as a car, because the current definition of a car is ‘A road vehicle, typically with four wheels, powered by an internal combustion engine and able to carry a small number of people.’

With that in mind, Jaguar has now made a formal request to update the definition to include additional powertrains – including the electric, lithium-ion drivetrain used by the i-Pace. 

'A lot of time and thought is put into the name of any new vehicle or technology to ensure it is consumer friendly, so it’s surprising to see that the definition of the car is a little outdated,' said David Browne, head of Jaguar Land Rover’s naming committee.

'We are therefore inviting the Oxford English Dictionary and the Oxford Dictionaries to update its online classification to reflect the shift from traditional internal combustion engines towards more sustainable powertrains.'

How did the Jaguar win car of the year?

The victor was decided by a countback of the number of jurors who placed each car top of their list, with the Jaguar scoring 18 first places compared with 16 for the Alpine. In an incredibly close race, the Kia Ceed took the third place on the podium, with 247 points. 

Receiving the award, Jaguar’s design director Ian Callum said: ‘An electric car has won the award [again], and this is the future for the automotive sector. And it’s the first time Jaguar has won the Car of the Year award.’ 

It’s the third time an electric car has won the gong, with the Nissan Leaf triumphing in 2011 and the Opel-Vauxhall Ampera coming top the following year.

The award will give a welcome dose of good news to Jaguar and sister brand Land Rover: the company announced a £90m financial loss for the third quarter of 2018 and is in the process of cutting 4500 jobs, as it seeks to save £2.5billion and battle back to profitability. Jaguar Land Rover has been rocked by a contraction in its Chinese sales, Brexit and the flight from diesel engines in European markets.

Seven cars were shortlisted for the award, from 38 cars launched in 2018 that were eligible. After the Jaguar, Alpine and Kia, the Ford Focus came in fourth with 235 points, with the Citroën C5 Aircross (210 points), Peugeot 508 (192 points) and Mercedes-Benz A-class (116 points) completing the grid.

Car of the Year is decided by a jury comprising 60 journalists from 23 different countries across Europe. CAR’s editor-in-chief, Phil McNamara, is on the jury. Each juror has 25 points to distribute among the seven cars, with a juror having to give his or her top-ranked car at least a point more than the next favourite car on the shortlist. That’s how the organisers can pick a winner in the event of a tie.

It’s a democractic and transparent process, with each juror having to submit short written testimony to explain their votes. All the verdicts are available at

By Phil McNamara

Editor-in-chief of CAR magazine