The seven-car shortlist for Car of the Year, revealed this morning, seems to show that the world's oldest and most thorough 'best car' competition, now in it's sixth decade, is in full health again.
In recent years there has been a tendency for jurors to choose simple, high-value cars at the expense – excuse the pun – of more premium, more technical advanced models. This year's group, which includes the Vauxhall Ampera and Land Rover Evoque, puts those days in the past.
The full list – Citroën DS5, Fiat Panda, VW Up, Range Rover Evoque, Ford Focus, Toyota Yaris and Vauxhall Ampera – sets up a fascinating competition from which just one car will be chosen on the opening day of the Geneva motor show at the beginning of March.
Personally, I'm delighted that Opel/Vauxhall's range extender made it to the shortlist, despite the recent storm-in-teacup business about one or two batteries catching fire when the cars were in storage, days or weeks after being involved in a big accident.
GM now has a fix for the problem, anyway. It's also great (and unexpected) that JLR's fine design work has been recognised. The shortlist also sets up the expected, fascinating A-segment battle, Fiat Panda-versus-VW Up. And Ford must be relieved that Focus has made it, given the rumbles that the latest car isn't quite as inspirational as its peers.
Me? I chose five of the seven. I'd have liked to see the Kia Rio make it, because it seems such an excellent all-rounder. And I also chose the Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4, because it's packed with new technology and drives pretty well, if not perfectly.
The jury body chose the Citroën DS5, a decent decision, and the relatively ordinary but well-packaged Toyota Yaris instead. The last of them, I suspect, not even Toyota was expecting. But then, there's always one…