European Car of the Year

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European Car of the Year

The European Car of the Year award was established in 1964, by a collective of automobile magazines from different countries in Europe. The current organisers of the award are Auto (Italy), Autocar (United Kingdom), Autopista (Spain), Autovisie (Netherlands), L'Automobile Magazine (France), Stern (Germany) and Vi Bilägare (Sweden).[1]

The voting jury consists of motoring journalists from publications throughout Europe. Representation from each country is based on the size of the country's car market, and car manufacturing industry. There are no categories or class winners — the stated objective is to find a "single, decisive winner" among all competing cars.

The 2015 ECOTY was announced on March 2, 2015, at the Geneva Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland, the winner being the Volkswagen Passat.

Current rules[edit]

Eligible cars are new models released in the twelve months prior to the award. The award is not restricted to European cars, but nominees must be available in at least five European countries, and have expected sales of 5,000 a year.

Nominees are judged on the following criteria: design, comfort, safety, economy, handling, performance, functionality, environmental requirements, driver satisfaction and price. Technical innovation and value for money are also important factors.[2]

A shortlist of seven cars is selected by a simple vote. For the final round of voting, each jury member has 25 points to distribute among the finalists. The points must be distributed to at least five cars, with no more than ten to any one car, and no joint top marks. The voting is open, and each jury member provides published justification for their vote distribution.

Under these rules, the decisiveness of the victory has varied greatly. For example, in 1988, the Peugeot 405 won by 212 points, the biggest gap in the history of the European Car of the Year competition; such feat was repeated in 2013, as the Mk VII Volkswagen Golf won by the same points gap in 2013. In 2010 the Volkswagen Polo won by a mere 10 points, received maximum points from twenty-five jurors, and was the top choice of 59.

The Renault Clio (1991 and 2006) and Volkswagen Golf (1992 and 2013) are the only cars to have won the award more than once. In 2011 the Nissan Leaf was the first electrically powered vehicle to be awarded Car of the Year.


BMC, the largest independent British carmaker at the time, produced the first two winners of the award. Its Rover P6 saloon was the inaugural winner of the award in 1964, with the smaller Austin 1800 winning it a year later. The Rover P6 had been launched in the same year as two other notable contenders for the award, the Mercedes-Benz 600 and a British-built contender in the shape of the Rootes Group's Hillman Imp.

The Renault 16 was the world's first production hatchback car and unsurprisingly won the award for 1966, having been launched at the beginning of 1965. A year later, the award went to the Fiat 124, which won more than twice as many as voted as its nearest competitor, the BMW 1600. Fiat missed out the following year, however, when its 125 was pipped to the award by the revolutionary new NSU Ro80, one of the first production cars to feature a rotary engine.

Peugeot claimed the accolade for the first time with the 1969 award, which was won by its 504 saloon, a large family car which offered a high standard of interior comfort and build quality. The Fiat 128 was the next winner of the award, while a year later the innovative new Citroen GS family saloon won the award.

Fiat became the first manufacturer to win the award for a third time when its 127 supermini won the 1972 title. The next winner of the award was the Audi 80, and the 1974 award went to the Mercedes-Benz 450SE luxury saloon.

Despite financial problems which led to its takeover by Peugeot that year, Citroen won the accolade in 1975 with its flagship CX saloon, which fought off a strong challenge from the highly acclaimed Volkswagen Golf. Then came Chrysler Europe's first winner of the award, the contemporary Simca 1307/1308 (Chrysler Alpine in the United Kingdom). Despite all the strife which troubled British Leyland (the successor organisation to British Leyland) throughout the 1970s, the state-owned carmaker achieved recognition for 1977 when its mid-range Rover SD1 luxury car won the award.

Sports cars have traditionally accounted for only a tiny percentage of car sales throughout Europe, but the European Car of the Year accolade was won by one for 1978, when the Porsche 928 sealed the award in the face of competition from the BMW 7 Series and Ford Granada.

Just before the sale of its European division to Peugeot, Chrysler achieved a success second in the contest with its Horizon, which won the 1979 award ahead of one of its main rivals, Fiat Ritmo/Strada. Lancia finally achieved recognition a year later when its stylish new Delta hatchback was voted European Car of the Year.

Ford finally achieved success in the contest when its MK3 Escort, the first of that model line to feature front-wheel drive or a hatchback, sealed the award for 1981, fighting off competition from British Leyland's crucial Austin Metro supermini and the Fiat Panda. A year later, the accolade was perhaps surprisingly won by the Renault 9, which managed to finish ahead of the more widely well regarded Opel Ascona/Vauxhall Cavalier and the MK2 Volkswagen Polo. The 1983 award was won by the Audi 100, which narrowly finished ahead of the slightly smaller and similarly aerodynamic Ford Sierra.

The 1984 award saw two new superminis finish well ahead of the nearest contenders. The Fiat Uno was Fiat's fourth success in the history of the award, finishing slightly ahead of the Peugeot 205. A year later, General Motors finally achieved recognition when its latest version of the Opel Kadett/Vauxhall Astra sealed it. Ford achieved a second victory in the 1986 contest with its new Scorpio/Granada flagship. General Motors made it two victories in three years when its own flagship model, the Opel Omega/Vauxhall Carlton, won the award for 1987.

19 years after the 504 gave Peugeot its first European Car of the Year, the French carmaker finally enjoyed its second triumph in the competition when its mid-range 405 saloon won the 1988 award by a wide margin. A year later, Fiat became the first manufacturer to win the award five times when its ground-breaking new Tipo achieved victory.

Citroen's new XM flagship model won the award for 1990, with its French rival Renault scoring success a year later with the new Clio supermini, which signalled the end for the iconic R5. With the award now nearly 30 years old, Volkswagen finally achieved recognition in 1992 when its MK3 Golf won the award, finishing ahead of two of its most important competitors - the Vauxhall/Opel Astra and Citroen ZX.

A non-European brand - with a British-built product - won the award for the first time for 1993, when the Nissan Micra earned top marks ahead of the Fiat Cinquecento (a car which helped the popularity of city cars in Europe to soar over the next few years) and Renault's new flagship, the Safrane.

Ford achieved a third success in the competition with its Mondeo, successor to the Sierra, winning the award for 1994. Fiat increased its number of victories in the contest to six, when its new Punto supermini won the award for 1995, just as its Uno and 127 ancestors had done many years earlier. Fiat made it seven victories a year later when its Bravo/Brava range pipped the stylish Peugeot 406 to the honour.

Renault's innovative compact MPV, the Scenic, won the award for 1997, while Alfa Romeo won the next year's award for the first time with its 156 mid-range sports saloon.

Ford achieved a fourth success in the contest when its boldly-styled Focus won the 1999 award, fighting off competition from the latest Vauxhall/Opel Astra as well as Peugeot's stylish 206 supermini. A year later, a Japanese manufacturer - this time with a Japanese-built product - won the award when the Toyota Yaris earned top marks ahead of the boldly-styled Fiat Multipla compact MPV and the practical Vauxhall/Opel Zafira.

Alfa Romeo's modern revival continued when its stylish 147 won the award for 2001, with the next winner being the Peugeot 307. It was another French success for 2003, when the second generation Renault Megane was the winner.

Fiat achieved its eighth success in the contest when its all-new Panda won the 2004 award. Toyota made it two victories from six years when its radical Prius hybrid won the 2005 award. The Renault Clio became the first model to win the award twice when the third generation of the popular supermini won it for 2006.

Ford's stylish and practical S-MAX won the 2007 award, fighting off a close challenge from the Vauxhall/Opel Corsa, earlier versions of which had been largely overlooked by the contest's judges.

Fiat made in nine victories in the contest when it won the 2008 award with the 500 model, a retro-styled take on its iconic small car which had first been launched 50 years earlier. The next award went to a more traditional and mainstream offering, when Vauxhall/Opel won the award for only the second time with its Insignia.

Volkswagen's Polo supermini had been around in several forms since its launch in the mid 1970s, but the all-new version launched in 2009 was the first generation of Polo to win this award, and only the second Volkswagen-badged car ever to win it.

Then came two years of success for electric-powered cars, with the Nissan Leaf and Vauxhall Ampera/Chevrolet Volt winning the 2011 and 2012 award respectively.

The Volkswagen Golf then joined the Renault Clio with the distinction of two wins in the contest when the MK7 version won the 2013 award. One of the Golf's key rivals, the Peugeot 308, was the next winner.

The current holder of the award is the Volkswagen Passat.

European Car of the Year
Year Winner Points Second place Points Third place Points
1964 Rover 2000 76 Mercedes 600 64 Hillman Imp 31
1965 Austin 1800 78 Autobianchi Primula 51 Ford Mustang 18
1966 Renault 16 98 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow 81 Oldsmobile Toronado 59
1967 Fiat 124 144 BMW 1600 69 Jensen FF 61
1968 NSU Ro 80 197 Fiat 125 133 Simca 1100 94
1969 Peugeot 504 119 BMW 2500/2800 77 Alfa Romeo 1750 76
1970 Fiat 128 235 Autobianchi A112 96 Renault 12 79
1971 Citroën GS 233 Volkswagen K70 121 Citroën SM 105
1972 Fiat 127 239 Renault 15/17 107 Mercedes 350SL 96
1973 Audi 80 114 Renault 5 109 Alfa Romeo Alfetta 95
1974 Mercedes 450SE 115 Fiat X1/9 99 Honda Civic 90
1975 Citroën CX 229 Volkswagen Golf 164 Audi 50 136
1976 Simca 1307-1308 192 BMW 3-series 144 Renault 30 TS 107
1977 Rover 3500 157 Audi 100 138 Ford Fiesta 135
1978 Porsche 928 261 BMW 7-series 231 Ford Granada 203
1979 Simca-Chrysler Horizon 251 Fiat Ritmo 239 Audi 80 181
1980 Lancia Delta 369 Opel Kadett 301 Peugeot 505 199
1981 Ford Escort Mk.III 326 Fiat Panda 308 Austin Metro 255
1982 Renault 9 335 Opel Ascona 304 Volkswagen Polo 252
1983 Audi 100 410 Ford Sierra 386 Volvo 760 157
1984 Fiat Uno 346 Peugeot 205 325 Volkswagen Golf 156
1985 Opel Kadett 326 Renault 25 261 Lancia Thema 191
1986 Ford Scorpio 337 Lancia Y10 291 Mercedes-Benz 200-300E 273
1987 Opel Omega 275 Audi 80 238 BMW 7-series 175
1988 Peugeot 405 464 Citroën AX 252 Honda Prelude 234
1989 Fiat Tipo 356 Opel Vectra 261 Volkswagen Passat 194
1990 Citroën XM 390 Mercedes-Benz SL 215 Ford Fiesta 214
1991 Renault Clio 312 Nissan Primera 258 Opel Calibra 183
1992[3] Volkswagen Golf 276 Opel Astra 231 Citroën ZX 213
1993 Nissan Micra 338 Fiat Cinquecento 304 Renault Safrane 244
1994 Ford Mondeo 290 Citroën Xantia 264 Mercedes-Benz C 192
1995 Fiat Punto 370 Volkswagen Polo 292 Opel Omega 272
1996 Fiat Bravo/Brava 378 Peugeot 406 363 Audi A4 246
1997 Renault Mégane Scénic 405 Ford Ka 293 Volkswagen Passat 248
1998 Alfa Romeo 156 454 Volkswagen Golf 266 Audi A6 265
1999 Ford Focus 444 Opel Astra 269 Peugeot 206 248
2000 Toyota Yaris 344 Fiat Multipla 325 Opel Zafira 265
2001 Alfa Romeo 147 238 Ford Mondeo 237 Toyota Prius 229
2002 Peugeot 307 286 Renault Laguna 244 Fiat Stilo 243
2003 Renault Mégane 322 Mazda 6 302 Citroën C3 214
2004 Fiat Panda 281 Mazda 3 241 Volkswagen Golf 241
2005 Toyota Prius 406 Citroën C4 267 Ford Focus 228
2006[4] Renault Clio 256 Volkswagen Passat 251 Alfa Romeo 159 212
2007 Ford S-Max 235 Opel Corsa 233 Citroën C4 Picasso 222
2008 Fiat 500 385 Mazda2 325 Ford Mondeo 202
2009 Opel Insignia 321 Ford Fiesta 320 Volkswagen Golf 223
2010[5] Volkswagen Polo 347 Toyota iQ 337 Opel Astra 221
2011 Nissan Leaf 257[6] Alfa Romeo Giulietta 248 Opel Meriva 244
2012 Chevrolet Volt/Opel Ampera 330 Volkswagen up! 281 Ford Focus 256
2013 Volkswagen Golf[3][7] 414[3] Toyota GT-86/Subaru BRZ[3] 202 Volvo V40[3] 189
2014 Peugeot 308 307[8] BMW i3 223 Tesla Model S 216
2015[9] Volkswagen Passat 340 Citroën C4 Cactus 248 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 221
Winners sorted by manufacturer
Manufacturer Country Wins Winning Cars
Fiat  Italy 9 124 (1967); 128 (1970); 127 (1972); Uno (1984); Tipo (1989); Punto (1995); Bravo/Brava (1996); Panda (2004); 500 (2008)
Renault  France 6 16 (1966); 9 (1982); Clio (1991); Scénic (1997); Mégane (2003); Clio (2006)
Ford  United States 5 Escort (1981); Scorpio (1986); Mondeo (1994); Focus (1999); S-Max (2007)
Opel  Germany 4 Kadett (1985); Omega (1987); Insignia (2009); Ampera (2012)
Peugeot  France 4 504 (1969); 405 (1988); 307 (2002); 308 (2014)
Volkswagen  Germany 4 Golf (1992); Polo (2010); Golf (2013);[7] Passat (2015)
Citroën  France 3 GS (1971); CX (1975); XM (1990)
Alfa Romeo  Italy 2 156 (1998); 147 (2001)
Audi  Germany 2 80 (1973); 100 (1983)
Simca  France 2 1307-1308 (1976); Simca-Talbot Horizon (1979)
Nissan  Japan 2 Micra (1993); Leaf (2011)
Rover  United Kingdom 2 P6 (1964); SD1 (1977)
Toyota  Japan 2 Yaris (2000); Prius (2005)
Austin  United Kingdom 1 1800 (1965)
Chevrolet  United States 1 Chevrolet Volt (2012) joint candidate with Opel/Vauxhall Ampera[10]
Lancia  Italy 1 Delta (1980)
Mercedes-Benz  Germany 1 S-Class (1974)
NSU  Germany 1 Ro 80 (1968)
Porsche  Germany 1 928 (1978)

See also[edit]

  • Car of the Year for other similar awards in different countries and by various magazine and institutions.


  1. ^ "Organizing magazines". Car of the Year. Retrieved 24 April 2015. 
  2. ^ "What makes a Car of the Year?". Retrieved 2010-11-20. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Car of the Year twice - 1992 & 2013". Car manufacturer. Volkswagen. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  4. ^ "2006: Renault Clio". Car of the year. Retrieved 2012-05-23. 
  5. ^ "C3 Picasso European Car of the Year nomination 2010". European Car of the Year competition. European Car of the Year. Retrieved 14 May 2013. 
  6. ^ English, Andrew (2010-11-29). "Nissan Leaf wins Car of the Year". (London). Retrieved 2010-11-29. 
  7. ^ a b "Car of the Year 2013: VW Golf does it again". Retrieved 2013-03-04. 
  8. ^ "Peugeot’s 308 wins 2014 Car of the Year". Daily Telegraph. 3 March 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2014. 
  9. ^ "Car of the Year 2015: Volkswagen Passat a confirmed favourite". Car of the Year. 2 March 2015. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  10. ^ "Ampera/Volt sweeps on Car of the Year 2012". Car of the Year. 5 March 2012. Retrieved 27 February 2015. 

External links[edit]