The Mazda3 and CX-30 are both finalists.
The Kia Telluride is all that stands in the way of Mazda bagging another World Car of the Year title. That's because the Telluride, along with the Mazda3 and the Mazda CX-30, were announced as the three finalists for the revered award for 2020. If Mazda takes it, it would be the Japanese marque's third triumph after the Mazda2 in 2008 and the Mazda MX-5 Miata's win in 2016.
86 automotive journalists from around the globe chose the finalists by secret ballot. The Mazda3 was also announced as a finalist for World Car Design of the Year alongside the Peugeot 208 and the Porsche Taycan.
It's perhaps no surprise that the Mazda3 has received such high praise. The latest generation of the compact hatch/sedan has taken a clear step upmarket, with sophisticated exterior styling and a cabin with upscale leather and metal trim. Along with appealing driving dynamics, these traits could easily see the 3 take home the title. We only wish that the 186-horsepower engine (devoid of turbocharging) moved the game along as much as the interior.
Mazda's Kodo design language has been applied with equal success to the CX-30, a subcompact crossover that plugs the gap between the CX-3 and the CX-5. Like the 3, the CX-30 has classy, simple lines and one of the most impressive cabins in the segment. Although rear-seat space is a bit tight, the CX-30 otherwise has a well-sized cargo area and is refined and smooth on the move.
However, making a great car doesn't mean it's going to sell well. In January of this year, only 2,496 Mazda3 models found homes, compared to nearly 13,000 CX-5s. A World Car of the Year title could snap shoppers out of their slumber and help the 3 achieve the sales success it thoroughly deserves, especially considering that it starts at almost $4,000 less than the CX-5. The CX-30, meanwhile, already almost matched the Mazda3's sales total in January, moving 2,368 units.
In other World Car Awards categories for 2020, Porsche dominates with two finalists for World Luxury Car (the 911 and the Taycan, along with the Mercedes-Benz EQC) and sweeps the World Performance Car category (with the 718 Spyder/Cayman GT4, the 911, and the Taycan). The World Urban Car finalists are the Kia Soul EV, Mini Electric, and the Volkswagen T-Cross.
Winners will be announced on April 8 at the 2020 New York International Auto Show.