Peugeot had a good day a few weeks ago. First it bought Vauxhall and Opel – assuming you think them worth having, and I guess Peugeot’s owner, PSA Group, does, given that it has just paid €2.2 billion for them – and then the 3008 became the Car of the Year for 2017.
The Car of the Year (CotY) shindig is the result of votes from 58 jurors, all senior European motoring hacks (I’m one of them and this august publication is one of seven sponsoring titles), who vote every March for what they reckon is the best new car launched in the preceding 12 months.
A longlist of all eligible cars is published around October and that is reduced to a shortlist of seven at the turn of the year. The cars are then tested back to back. Most jurors do that in France, but UK jurors opt to drive them on British roads. Silverstone circuit kindly finds us space for the cars and somewhere to have an argument about which of the seven is the best.
Then we all go off and vote how we want, and the winner is announced on the eve of the Geneva motor show.
The way the scoring works is a little complicated. One UK-based PR executive said he tells his Japanese bosses that it’s a bit like the Eurovision Song Contest.
Each juror gets 25 points to allocate. They can score no car with more than 10, give no equal first places, and must give points to at least five cars. It is a bit of a committee-style process that usually ends up with a worthy, uncontroversial winner, if not necessarily a particularly exciting one, Porsche 928 aside. A couple of years ago, the Peugeot 308 won it over the Tesla Model S and BMW i3, for example; and last year the Vauxhall Astra pipped the Volvo XC90 and Mazda MX-5.
The 3008 is a decent car. It’s the best Peugeot in a long time, with an interesting interior, funky design and good functionality. It’s okay to drive, too, albeit some variants have a slightly brittle ride. And I’m glad the CotY judges have realised that people buy crossovers: it’s the first such car to win Car of the Year.
It wasn’t one of the five cars I gave points to, mind. In increasing proportions, I gave some to the C3, which is again funky, but better to drive than I’d expected; the Micra, which is everything a supermini should be except in price; the S90, the jib of which I like the cut of, and the E-Class, which brings a new kind of comfort and luxury to its class.
I awarded the most points to the Giulia. It is a flawed car, granted, but one that, even in cooking diesel form, is interesting, exciting and fun to drive like no other compact executive car. It’s a slightly enthusiast choice for this contest, perhaps, but I gave it only a couple more points than the E-Class, which is the car that, strictly objectively, I felt ‘ought’ to have won, because it brings more to its class than any of the others do to theirs.
So there you go: the 3008. Not the bravest choice for Car of the Year, perhaps, but not a bad one.