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The Volvo XC40 is the 2018 European Car of the Year

XC40 beats the Seat Ibiza and BMW 5 Series to take the top spot

The Volvo XC40 has won the European Car of the Year trophy by a clear margin. The Seat Ibiza came next, then the BMW 5 Series. This year’s shortlist for the contest was a very strong one and so the votes for places 2 to 7 were much more evenly distributed than usual.

The XC40 scored 325 points, the Ibiza 242, and the 5 Series 226. Next came the Kia Stinger at 204, Citroen C3 Aircross with 171, Audi A8 with 169, and Alfa Romeo’s Stelvio with 163.

Car of the Year is the world’s longest-established and best-known international new-car award. It is decided by 59 judges across the whole of Europe, including Top Gear’s Paul Horrell. After the seven-car shortlist is selected, each juror gets 25 points to deal out, and must give no car more than 10.

The final voting is calculated live, and the presentation of the award is the first formal event of the Geneva show. Volvo’s boss Hakan Samuelsson accepted the trophy.

The XC40 is a strong entry in a class of car where new launches are cascading out. It’s safe, good-looking, practical inside and very decent to drive.

The Ibiza did well because it’s a roomy and refined little supermini that’s better value than the sibling VW Polo. But it’s not quite as good to drive as the rival Ford Fiesta, and some jurors noted the cheap dash plastics – a fault that Seat boss Luca de Meo has already said is to be remedied soon.

German premium brands have traditionally been hampered in CotY because price is one of the judging criteria. In many of the countries where the jurors operate, they are too expensive to be relevant. But the 5 Series is such a strong car it almost overcame that hurdle.

The 5 Series was actually Horrell’s top choice. He gave it 9 and the Volvo 6. His third place was the C3 Aircross, because it’s a great little family car if not quite so brilliant for the driver. He put the Ibiza and Audi next with 3 each.

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