It goes double for Jeep first. Not only has the American brand of the Stellantis group never won the COTY (Car Of The Year) trophy in sixty years of existence, but it also won the day with its first electric car. And how, because his Avenger won 328 points, dropping the second (the Volkswagen ID Buzz) to 80 points behind him. However, this huge success raises some questions, even if they do not think about the road characteristics of the model which, according to the first test conducted by Stéphane Lémeret, is quite real. In fact, this achievement raises questions about the motivations of the 59 European motoring journalists who gave him this prize.
Known elements in other group models
In any case, one thing is certain, the judges are clearly not concerned with the technical, stylistic or practical contribution that a new model can bring to the automobile edifice. Because as for the innovation, it remained hidden under the computer of the Avenger designers. What mechanical wood is this SUV, if not elements already seen elsewhere?
Its platform is none other than e-CMP which is widely distributed within the group. Its 156 hp engine and 54 kW battery are known because they were recently found under the hood and on the floor of the Peugeot e-208, the e-308 of the DS3 e-tense. It’s hard to get more shares than this powertrain.
We can also wonder why the new electric Opel Astra, which also uses the same mechanics, does not deserve to appear in the list of 7 finalists for this car of the year? Probably because it’s just a weak compact. Something cheesy, no big wheels. A device from the last century.
But maybe the judges wanted to salute the stylistic innovation of this Avenger after all? Except that the design of the small SUV does not bring much new in this area. It erases any divisive effect. Above all, don’t rush, above all stay consensual to attract everyone without surprising anyone, seems to have been the details of Jeep designers.
The result is an accumulation of sharp edges, to maintain the consistency of the brand, without forgetting the famous grille with 7 bars to claim Jeep membership. The set is neither ugly nor beautiful: it is standard and unlikely to displease anyone or cause anyone to admire. This soft consensus is clearly the desired goal, because unpleasantness, if not interesting, is a guarantee of commercial success.
But then, what can justify the Avenger’s success? The quality of its cabin assemblies? It really doesn’t exist, as the first test of the model indicates, and as Stéphane Schlesinger also noticed during our tops/flops during the recent Mondial de l’auto in Paris. However, this interior is more original and aesthetic than the exterior and constitutes a stylistic leap forward for the American brand. Too bad the materials used are of poor quality. Not enough to bother the jurors who gave him their votes.
However, when facing the Avenger, other models showed this innovation that the American lacked. the Volkswagen ID Buzz has a crisp line for him, revisiting the Combi of the 60s. some years old. As for the Kia Niro, it benefits, in addition to its visible characteristics, from a mechanical system that is better than the Jeep.
The recipe to win the title? Build consensus, without taking risks
Given this accumulation of elements that should have prevented the Avenger from winning the prize, one might wonder eventually, why he was crowned, and in a good way, except for the French judges who preferred the Renault Austral to him. Do other judges want to salute the arrival of an American brand in a French group? Did they want to give a sign of encouragement to Jeep’s first foray into the electric world? Can.
In any case, this success provides a recipe for manufacturers competing for the title in the coming years. To be elected, it may be enough to draw a consensual car, relying on the existing mechanical elements and improving the suspension settings, which seems to be the case here. Finally, a consistent car with no changes is enough to win a palm without imagination.