The shortlist for this year’s Car of the Year award is out. All the significant new cars launched in Europe in the past year, 29 of them, were eligible. From the Hyundai i10 to the S-Class Benz.
The top seven, alphabetically, are:
Fiat New 500
Land Rover Defender
It’s an interesting list because each car can be seen for its own merits. There are no very similar pairs that’ll split the vote. For instance, the long list contained all of the renewed VW MQB hatches – the Octavia, Leon, Golf and A3. But in the final round of voting, the Octavia can sidestep sibling rivalry.
The jury is 60 road testing journalists from 23 countries. (Brexit plays no part by the way – Russia, Turkey and Switzerland are among the non-EU nations represented.) I’m one of the six UK members.
What are we looking for? The statutes say: “design, comfort, safety, economy, handling, performance, functionality, environmental requirements, driver satisfaction, and price. Technical innovation and value for money are particularly important factors.”
Also, we rule out cars that too few jurors have driven. Which in this COVID year did for the Ferrari SF90 and Rolls-Royce Ghost. But even if they’d been eligible, past years show they likely wouldn’t have been voted onto the shortlist, because of the price and value criteria.
So you might not expect the Defender to win. But remember, two years ago the Jaguar I-Pace did just that, after an amazingly close runoff with the Alpine A110.
The next and final stage of the contest is a vote by all jurors to select a single winner from among the seven. That’ll be announced on 1 March.
Click through for the Top Gear verdict on each finalist…