Nissan Leaf makes history in claiming European Car of the Year award

November 30th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

In a historic moment for Nissan and zero emission vehicles, the 100% electric Nissan Leaf has been awarded 2011 European Car of the Year.

The world’s first mass-marketed, affordable, zero-emission vehicle for the global market beat 40 contenders to win motoring’s most important accolade. This is the first time in the 47-year history of the annual competition that the award has gone to an electric vehicle. Nissan Leaf’s rivals included vehicles from brands such as Alfa Romeo, Citroen, Dacia, Ford, Opel/Vauxhall and Volvo. The jury included 57 motoring journalists from 23 European countries.

Victory for the battery-powered Leaf, marks Nissan’s first win since the Micra took home the award way back in 1993.

“The jury acknowledged today that the Nissan Leaf is a breakthrough for electric cars. Nissan Leaf is the first EV that can match conventional cars in many respects,” said HÃ¥kan Matson, President of the Jury, Car of the Year.

Nissan Motor Co President Carlos Ghosn was suitably happy and said, “This award recognises the pioneering zero-emission Nissan Leaf as competitive to conventional cars in terms of safety, performance, spaciousness and handling. It also reflects Nissan’s standing as an innovative and exciting brand with a clear vision of the future of transportation, which we call sustainable mobility. With three other electric vehicles in the pipeline from Nissan — and with the imminent market introduction of four additional electric vehicles from our Alliance partner Renault — Nissan Leaf represents a significant first step toward a zero-emission future.”

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Finalists announced for 2011 European Car of the Year

November 11th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

While there are a multitude of automotive awards out there in cyberspace the one many automakers value most remains the European Car of the Year. To find a winner for the coveted title seven publications from seven different countries get together each year to nominate their collective Car of the Year, and then announce it in one united voice.

The process takes place over the course of months with the first step being the nominations, then the finalists and ultimately the solitary winner. The finalists for 2011 have just been announced, and as you’d expect it’s heavily loaded with European vehicles, but the list is not without some surprises.

The finalists include the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Citroën C3/DS3, Renault/Dacia Duster, Ford C-Max/Grand C-Max, Nissan Leaf, Opel/Vauxhall Meriva and Volvo S60/V60. The Alfa’s nomination is a decade after its predecessor, the 147, took the award in its launch year. The Nissan Leaf is an interesting inclusion and represents the first time an electric vehicle has made it this far in the competition.

The winner will be announced on November 29, so check back then.

VW Polo wins 2010 European Car of the Year

December 1st, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

VW Polo 2009 fq1

The new VW Polo has scored a narrow triumph in the 2010 Car of the Year Award, beating six other finalists. The result, announced today, show that the Polo scored 347 points against 337 for Toyota’s new city car, the iQ. The pair were well ahead of the next-best runner, the Opel/Vauxhall Astra with 221 points, while the other finalists were the Skoda Yeti (158), the Mercedes-Benz E-Class (155), the Peugeot 3008 (144) and the Citroen C3 Picasso (113).

Announcing the result, Autocar’s Steve Cropley, who is one of six UK based jurors, and one of 59 car experts from 23 European countries who decide the award, revealed that the Polo was chosen as the winning car by 25 jurors, while the iQ was chosen by 20 jurors. The competition was neck-and-neck throughout the counting, with the Polo’s win confirmed only as the last vote was counted.

“This year’s results show that the body of COTY jurors firmly believes that small, economical cars were the best of this year’s crop,” says Cropley.  “The Polo is a very complete, very refined car which delivers all the consistent qualities VW has become so well known for. However, given its unusual layout, controversial looks and premium price, the iQ did amazingly well, and it was nice to see good support for the Astra, whose maker, GM Europe, was victorious this year with the Insignia executive car. The E-Class Mercedes, considered by many to be the maker’s best saloon model for years, was also well supported.”

The COTY jury is made up of 59 senior  motoring journalists from 23 countries. Their objective is to choose the most outstanding new car to go on sale in the past 12 months. Jurors vote twice:  first to select a short-list of seven from the new cars launched in Europe, then again to choose the winner.

2010 European Car of the Year nominees announced

November 6th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

2010 European Car of the Year

The European Car of the Year contest is usually stacked with European cars, of course, if not cars from around the world that are sold in Europe. But this year, the fight is being waged almost exclusively between European cars with outside manufacturers barely getting a look in.

The candidates for the 2010 awards were announced back in June, but that’s really just a long list of vehicles that are eligible. Now the panel of automotive journalists from across the continent have chosen their seven nominees among from which the final winner will be selected.

Those up for the prize are:

  • Citroen C3 Picasso
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class
  • Opel/Vauxhall Astra
  • Peugeot 3008
  • Skoda Yeti
  • Toyota iQ
  • Volkswagen Polo

The iQ is the only non-European product in with a chance, and the Mercedes the only car among the finalists even currently available in the North American market.

The winner should be announced by the end of November.

Vauxhall Insignia wins European Car of the Year Award

November 18th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Vauxhall Insignia

The Insignia, the all-new family car from Vauxhall/Opel, has been voted 2009 Car of the Year — by the narrowest possible margin. The Insignia polled an impressive 321 votes to beat this year’s other favoured contender, the Ford Fiesta, by a solitary point. The Volkwsagen Golf, on 223 points, was third.

“This is the closest COTY competition for years,” comments Ray Hutton, president of the 59-strong jury of senior motoring journalists drawn from 23 European countries. “Car of the Year has often been decided narrowly, but it is eight years since another Ford, the Mondeo, was beaten by a single point by Alfa Romeo’s 147.” To underscore the closeness of the 46-year-old competition, the Vauxhall/Opel Insignia received most votes from 20 of the international jurors, while the Fiesta was placed first by 19 of them.

“We are delighted to be able to deliver good news at such a tough time,” says Steve Cropley, editor-in-chief of Autocar, COTY’s British-based sponsoring magazine, “The market’s the toughest we’ve seen for 20 years, but nothing alters the fact that the Insignia is a great car. However, this result is undoubtedly something of an upset. The Ford Fiesta seemed to many a winning contender. But in the end, the Insignia deserved to triumph and it did.”

Points allotted to the other COTY finalists were VW Golf 223, Citroen C5 198, Alfa Romeo MiTo 148, Skoda Superb 144 and Renault Megane 121. The competition’s first stage was in October, when jurors chose seven finalists from a field of 37 contenders. To be eligible for COTY, a car must be launched within the past 12 months and must be available in at least five European countries.

The COTY jury is made up of 59 senior motoring journalists from 23 countries. Their objective is to choose the most outstanding new car to go on sale in the past 12 months. Jurors vote twice:  first to select a short-list of seven from the new cars launched in Europe, then again to choose the winner.

COTY PREVIOUS WINNERS

2008                        FIAT 500
2007                        FORD S-MAX
2006                        RENAULT CLIO
2005                        TOYOTA PRIUS
2004                        FIAT PANDA
2003                        RENAULT MEGANE
2002                        PEUGEOT 307
2001                        ALFA ROMEO 147
2000                        TOYOTA YARIS
1999                        FORD FOCUS
1998                        ALFA ROMEO 156
1997                        RENAULT MEGANE SCENIC
1996                        FIAT BRAVO / BRAVA
1995                        FIAT PUNTO

Finalists for 2009 European Car of the Year announced

November 13th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

The European Car of the Year has been narrowed down from the initial list of 38 contenders to just seven finalists, which have now been announced. Along the way, some noteworthy new vehicles have been dropped, among them the new Audi A4, BMW 7 Series, Honda Accord, Jaguar XF and Volkswagen Scirocco, but not everyone could make the short-list.

The finalists for the coveted prize includes the Alfa Romeo MiTo, Citroen C5, Ford Fiesta, Opel/Vauxhall Insignia, Renault Megane, Skoda Superb and Volkswagen Golf. Previous versions of the Megane took home the trophy in their hatchbacks twice since the contest was instituted thirteen years ago. Fiat and Alfa Romeo have won it six times before. The winner will be announced in just over a week on November 19.