The award is traditionally given on the second day of press previews at the New York auto show. Head of Volkswagen Group design, Walter de Silva, accepted the award on behalf of the brand.

The seventh-generation Golf, which is not scheduled to go on sale in the US until 2014, prevailed over the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Porsche’s Boxster and Cayman sports cars, and the co-developed Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ sports coupes. Volkwagen has largely monopolised the award podium, having also placed is previous-generation Golf and the Up supermini on stage in the past five years.

“We reward a clear global vision,” said jury co-chair and journalist Matt Davis, who joined fellow jurors and directors on stage for award presentation.

The Porsche Boxster was awarded World Performance Car, beating out the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta and the aforementioned Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ twins. In the category of World Car Design of the Year, Aston Martin’s brutish Vanquish supercar and the redesigned Mazda 6 family sedan lost to Jaguar’s sumptuous F-type roadster.

Only one American car, the Tesla Model S, made it to the final round of judging, and eventually won in the category of World Green Car. There it bested the Renault Zoe EV, which is not sold in the United States, and the Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid Diesel, which will soon be exported to North America.