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Hyundai Genesis declared Canadian Car of the Year
Updated Wed. Feb. 11 2009 9:50 AM ET News Staff

The Hyundai Genesis luxury sedan has been chosen as the 2009 Canadian Car of the Year, marking the first time a Korean manufacturer has won the prestigious Canadian award.

The Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) handed out the award Wednesday at the opening of the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto.

The Genesis, Hyundai's first rear-wheel drive, performance sedan, beat 11 other "Best New" category winners to win the top prize, adding to its win earlier this year as the "North American Car of the Year."

To win Canadian Car of the Year honours, the Hyundai Genesis was first named AJAC's Best New Luxury Vehicle Under $50,000, defeating several other well-known luxury brands, such as the Audi A3, Acura TL and Infiniti G37X.

Following rigorous testing, the auto journalists decided the Genesis surpassed competitors in areas such as engine refinement, ride comfort, exterior styling, visibility, roominess and comfort.

"Winning the Canadian Car of the Year award with the Genesis is absolutely terrific news," said Steve Kelleher, president and CEO, Hyundai Auto Canada Corp.

"Not only is it great news for Hyundai, but it is also great news for consumers. This award - which we defeated some serious competition to win - proves that Canadians can buy a high-quality, luxurious vehicle with every feature they could want at an affordable price. And in today's economic environment, that is smart."

The Genesis is a five-passenger midsize sedan, but Hyundai plans to follow up this summer with a coupe version of the vehicle.

AJAC also selected the Ford Flex as the 2009 Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year.

The Canadian-built Flex was also awarded the title of "Best New CUV" for the price range of $35,000 to $60,000.

"Flex is an example of how Ford is daring to do things differently. There's nothing else quite like Flex on the road today and we are thrilled that top auto journalists from across the country have recognized the Canadian-built Flex for its quality, safety and distinct design," said David Mondragon, president and CEO, Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited.

Fit wins 'Best New Design' award

Meanwhile, the Honda Fit won AJAC's "Best New Design" award for 2009, beating out the Audi A4, the Jaguar XF Supercharged, and the Volkswagen Passat CC. The award is handed out to the vehicle that best combines aesthetics, function, and "brand essence."

The aesthetics score reflects the sheer beauty of the design. The function score assesses the degree to which it accommodates the practical requirements of the vehicle type. And brand essence considers its success in conveying the image, heritage, and values of the specific brand.

"The intent of the AJAC Best New Design award is to identify and reward the vehicle that exhibits the best balance of form and function," said Richard Russell, chair of AJAC's 2009 Canadian Car of the Year awards.

Jerry Chenkin, Executive Vice President of Honda Canada Inc. thanked AJAC members for this design award.

"We built the Fit to meet the needs of our customers, and their response has been overwhelmingly positive. The Fit combines a sleek, aerodynamic design for enhanced fuel efficiency with a roomy interior for excellent passenger and cargo space, proving that great style and value are not mutually exclusive attributes."

The Mitsubishi Super-All-Wheel Control technology, available on the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, was declared the 2009 Best New Technology.

The winner was chosen from a list of seven entries, judged by a panel of AJAC members with specific technical qualifications who regularly report on industry engineering and technical trends.

The award was established to identify innovative technologies that offer significant benefit to the consumer and that are likely to be emulated by other manufacturers, explained Canadian Car of the Year and Technology Award chairman Richard Russell.

"Past winners include everything from run-flat tires to various hybrid and suspension technologies. The significance of the Best New Technology award has been growing steadily over the past few years as has the degree of rigour to which entries are submitted," he said.

Koji Soga, President and CEO, Mitsubishi Motors Sales of Canada Inc., commented: "Mitsubishi is a company driven to practical engineering solutions. solutions that have a direct consumer benefit. And the Super-All-Wheel Control system used on the Lancer Evolution is a perfect example. Here we have a technology that enables the ultimate in driver control, in all weather conditions, which makes the vehicle both safer and more enjoyable to drive."

AJAC's annual awards program was created in 1985 with the purpose of providing consumers with sound, comparative information on vehicles that are new to the market.

The comparative test data are derived from the journalists' extensive five-day evaluation of over 160 new vehicles. This annual event held ever fall is known in the industry as "TestFest".

The TestFest evaluation program includes real world driving on public roads - exactly where consumers drive -- so that the test and vote results are directly relevant to potential car and truck buyers.

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