We’re getting close to decision day for Car of the Year.
We’re already down to seven finalists and now every one of the competition’s 59 jurors (in 23 countries) has to distribute points and pick a winner, so that it can be announced on November 17.
This is what I called the confusion phase. After all, just to get this far we’ve had to eliminate more than 30 cars — and as everyone rightly says these days, there are no bad cars.
Every year we gather the cars together at Silverstone to thrash them a bit on the track and attack a tough road route, unofficially dubbed the Setright Route, after the late scribe Leonard, who used to drive faster on it than all of us.
It’s a combination of fast roads, long bends, nasty bumps, funny cambers, damp patches under trees, kerbs in wrong places – and every other hazard you can think of. After about 15 miles, you know all you need to about a car’s steering, ride and handling, brakes, noise absorption and build integrity.
Trouble is, all the cars are impressive in their way. So how does one judge them for a contest like this? It all goes back to the old phrase ‘fitness for purpose’. You take a view on the duty of the car you’re driving (having given the manufacturer a good hearing) and you judge it against that.
It’s never a matter of comparing a Citroen C5 with an Alfa MiTo. You’re deciding whether the Mito is a better small hot hatch than the C5 is a mid-price saloon. And when you do that, the job gets easier.
Autocar is in charge of administering the competition this year, so we’ll know bright and early on Monday 17 November which car has won the European motor industry’s biggest gong. Look for the decision right here.