This year’s Car of the Year shortlist strikes me as one of the most interesting for years, because of the variety.

The seven-strong list of finalists for Europe’s most important “best car” competition — by virtue of the fact that it garners the opinions of 59 jurors from 22 countries — is often sometimes regarded as rather prosaic by critics.

See what's been nominated for Car of the Year

This is because said “experts” tend to choose cars they can be sure will work well in practice, which don’t have much “premium” money in their prices, and are thus affordable to own and operate. Last year’s Vauxhall Insignia (which narrowly beat the Ford Fiesta) was a good case in point. This year, though, there are some welcome rule-breakers. Principal among them is the Toyota iQ, which gets far further in this competition than the Smart City Coupe ever did.

The Mercedes E-class, perceived as a car that achieves useful things on the long road to reinstating M-B’s “Engineered Like No Other Car” reputation, is another.

The Skoda Yeti is a rare SUV finalist in the competition that usually ignores the type (can’t think of a recent 4x4 winner) mainly because of its sweet nature and compact dimensions. After that you’re into more conventional territory.