RENAULT’S THIRD-GENERATION Clio supermini has been unveiled as Car of the Year at the 2005 Autocar Awards ceremony in London today.
In a contest that went right to the wire, the French supermini was awarded 256 points by a Europe-wide panel of 58 journalists in 22 countries, edging-out VW’s new-shape Passat by just five points.
Jurors were swayed by Renault’s philosophy change, which has brought much-improved refinement and trim quality to the car. A few dissenters criticised the Clio’s class-busting size (it is now almost four metres long) and considerable weight, but most jurors reckoned size improves its road presence and creates market space for the smaller Twingo, due in a year.
Upmarket cars did better this year than they have for several years: Alfa’s pretty 159 (212 points) narrowly pipped BMW’s 3-series (203) to third place, with the contest’s only MPV, the sliding-door Mazda 5, scoring a useful 198 points to finish fifth.
Toyota, winner with the Yaris in 2000 and the Prius in 2005, must be especially disappointed with this year’s results. The Japanese marque scored only 187 points with the Toyota Aygo/Citroën C1/Peugeot 107 it builds in the Czech Republic, and the latest Yaris was last with a disappointing 143 points.
Alfa Romeo may have disappointed with third in the COTY competition, but there was reward during the Autocar Awards with its Brera coupe taking top honours in the Design category. Vauxhall's Antara was voted Concept Car of the Year, while Ford's innovative Easy Fuel system took Idea of the Year and Ricardo's clever 2/4Sight engine technology carried away the Safety and Technology Award.
Automotive legend Giorgetto Giugiaro was on-hand to pick up a Lifetime Achievement Award, while Porsche boss Wendelin Wiedeking collected the Autocar Award for Outstanding Achievement.