I feel relief more than anything, I think, that the Volvo XC40 is the Car of the Year 2018

This year’s seven-strong shortlist was as good a list of new cars as I can remember for this venerable competition, but when you look back over past winners, they’re not always the bravest of choices. Today’s was a good one.

Autocar's Volvo XC40 road test

Premium cars are usually notable by their absence from the top of Car of the Year’s prize lists. Yes, there was the Porsche 928 of 1978, but no BMW in this annual prize’s history, which extends back to 1964, has ever won it, no Mercedes-Benz since 1974 and, until today, no Volvo. 

Volvo XC40 wins Car of the Year prize

With the XC40, Volvo’s fortune changes, what with its score of 325 points comprehensively beating the Seat Ibiza (242pts), BMW 5-Series (226), Kia Stinger (204), Citroën C3 Aircross (171), Audi A8 (169) and Alfa Romeo Stelvio (163).

The way the voting works is thus: 60 journalists (I’m one, because Autocar is one of seven organising members) from 23 European countries get 25 points each to allocate across the seven shortlisted cars, as we see fit (hence the combined totals add up to 1500 points). But we can give no equal first, no car more than 10 points, and we must give at least five of the seven nominated cars some points.