The month began with the announcement of the seven cars in the running for Europe's 2011 Car of the Year award. Among them was Nissan's all-electric Leaf, alongside more conventionally powered options such as the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Citroën DS3, Dacia Duster, Ford C-Max, Vauxhall Meriva and Volvo S60. The overall winner, announced on 29 November, was the ground-breaking Nissan, which COTY judge Steve Cropley praised for its potential to 'normalise' EVs.
As unusual as it was not to see a Renault on the Car of the Year shortlist, the French manufacturer sprang to our attention in other ways. We published scoop pictures of a new Renault compact crossover, which is designed to secure its maker a slice of the incredible success of the Nissan Qashqai and to make up for the company's flop with the slow-selling Koleos.
Renault insiders also told Autocar that a higher-powered version of the Zoe electric supermini is in the pipeline. The Zoe Gordini could get as much as 134bhp, they advised, but it should still be good for more than 100 miles of range. "Making high-performance EVs isn't like making fast piston-engined cars," one Renault man told us. "The higher-output powertrains are almost as efficient as the lesser ones."
November brought us not just one, but three separate drives in different, one-off, multi-million-pound concept cars. The battery-powered Renault DeZir came first, seducing us with its stunning looks, before shocking Matt Saunders with its bone-jarring ride. Next came Hilton Holloway's test in the innovative Audi A1 e-tron, and finally Steve Cropley's drive in Jaguar's sensational C-X75 supercar. Both the Audi and the Jaguar demonstrated the world of possibility opened up by range-extender technology for electric vehicles; both made it very evident that there has never been a more interesting time to be a powertrain engineer.