Our man on the judging panel gives his thoughts on the 2016 European Car of the Year shortlist
8 January 2016

The European Car of the Year 2016 shortlist is out. It’s an award that Autocar sponsors and on whose jury yours truly somehow landed a position last year. The process is a bit dull but might be worth noting.

All eligible new cars make a longlist. To be eligible, they’ve got to be new this year and on sale in five European countries by a certain date, and although there’s no longer a limit on how many they sell (the minimum was 5000, but that ruled out cars like the BMW i8, so it was canned), a realistic number of judges have to have driven them. So no Ariel Nomad, tragically.

Of the longlist, each of the 58 jury members nominates their preferred seven to go through to the shortlist. The ones with the most votes get on it, which is what we have now. Final judging will take place early next year and the winner will be announced in Geneva on the eve of the motor show in March.

What’s noteworthy this year is that the shortlist is full of good cars. Yes, really. It’s the strongest shortlist I can remember: the Audi A4, BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XE, Mazda MX-5, Opel (Vauxhall) Astra, Skoda Superb and Volvo XC90.

I’d put most of those as my choices, too, but I wouldn’t complain about any of the others. I had the A4, MX-5, Superb and XC90 down, but I’d opted for the XF over the XE, because I think it’s better in its class than the XE in its, but I can see why Jaguar’s entry into a new market gets the nod instead.

I had the Mazda 2 on my list, because I think it’s a terrific supermini. But the Astra’s also a good car and its weight saving is pretty significant, so I can understand it going in. And the 7 Series is decent. It’s not quite class-leading enough by Autocar’s road test reckoning to have made my list, but I’m always happy if a BMW – a brand that has never won CotY, ridiculously – stands a chance.

If you count the Astra as German – and I suppose you might as well, although it has been engineered elsewhere, too, and is built in the UK – that’s three German cars, a Swede, one from the Czech Republic, one from Britain and one from Japan. For the first time since 2004, there’s nothing French on the shortlist. And for the fourth year in a row, nothing Italian.

At this stage, I genuinely wouldn’t like to call the result. Of them all, I think I’ve been most impressed by the XC90 and MX-5 this year, but neither is the sort of car that would typically win this contest, in which “technical innovation and value for money are particularly important factors”. But then, unusually, I can’t think of a particularly disappointing result this year, either. I haven’t always been a great fan of this contest over the years, but it has done pretty well here.

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Volvo XC90
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Comments
11

8 January 2016

No Ford Mustang V8? Sacrilege its not on the list.

8 January 2016
winniethewoo wrote:

No Ford Mustang V8? Sacrilege its not on the list.

I expected you to be outraged that not all contenders are manufactured by the VAG.

8 January 2016
Tuatara wrote:
winniethewoo wrote:

No Ford Mustang V8? Sacrilege its not on the list.

I expected you to be outraged that not all contenders are manufactured by the VAG.

Did VAG launch a car this year? They can't have done or else it would be on the list. Lol.

8 January 2016
winniethewoo wrote:
Tuatara wrote:
winniethewoo wrote:

No Ford Mustang V8? Sacrilege its not on the list.

I expected you to be outraged that not all contenders are manufactured by the VAG.

Did VAG launch a car this year? They can't have done or else it would be on the list. Lol.

I meant VW. Of course naturally the Audi A4 and Skoda Superb would be shortlisted. Aren't these the only new VAG cars launched this year? Two out of two!

8 January 2016

Curious that the XE would be nominated just for going into a new market.... or that the Astra lost a significant amount of weight as it was a lard bucket compared to the competition. The nomination for COTY should be for outstanding cars in their class.

GeToD

 

8 January 2016

Curious that the XE would be nominated just for going into a new market.... or that the Astra lost a significant amount of weight as it was a lard bucket compared to the competition. The nomination for COTY should be for outstanding cars in their class.

GeToD

 

8 January 2016

But what is the Mazda MX-5 doing in the EUROPEAN Car of the Year?
I know that traditionally there has often been a Japanese presence, but it doesn't make much sense. Maybe it should be renamed European and Japanese COTY? Really though I think that Car of the Year has outlived any usefulness it ever had, and it's really only of interest the industry and its various marketing departments.

8 January 2016
LP in Brighton wrote:

what is the Mazda MX-5 doing in the EUROPEAN Car of the Year?

Didn't you know its a badge-engineered version of the Fiat Spider?

8 January 2016
soldi wrote:
LP in Brighton wrote:

what is the Mazda MX-5 doing in the EUROPEAN Car of the Year?

Didn't you know its a badge-engineered version of the Fiat Spider?

Other way round if anything! But that would be to underplay the changes Fiat have made, especially in the engine bay.

8 January 2016

Good - they dont have anything at all that stirs the heart let alone the soul. And as long as Mr Macarroni is holding the reigns at Fiat - God help us. Amazed the 7 serious got the nod though. From those mentioned there is only one winner - Well done Mazda !!!

what's life without imagination

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