Citroen C3, DS3 nominated for Car of the Year 2011

The most prestigious automotive title in Europe is awarded annually by a 59-strong panel of motoring journalists covering 23 countries.

Previous winners include the Vauxhall Insignia (2009), Fiat 500 (2008) and the Ford Focus (1999), but a Citroen car has never triumphed in the 15 years the awards have been running.

Together as one nomination, the Citroen C3 supermini and the more premium DS3, which is based on the former, will compete against the Ford C-Max, Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Vauxhall Meriva and Dacia Duster for the title.

Other cars included on the shortlist include the Nissan Leaf electric car and Volvo S60 and V60.

Judges of the award said Citroen’s place on the shortlist ‘reflects the abrupt improvement of Citroen’s supermini models’.

This is in part down to the Citroen DS3, the first in the revived DS Line. The DS3 features customisable options for the exterior and exterior and the higher quality materials used throughout have impressed judges.

The C3 and DS3 also feature a sub-100g/km model, signified by the Airdream+ badge, however the C3 faces stiff competition in the awards.

This year’s awards have focused on models based on all-new platforms. The Ford C-Max is the first on a new platform under Ford’s ‘One Ford’ strategy, while the all-new Alfa Giulietta is built on a new platform aimed as competing with the Ford Focus hatchback.

Meanwhile, the Vauxhall Meriva has been updated to use the same platform as the larger Zafira people carrier.

Judges will now vote on the seven-strong shortlist to choose the most outstanding new car to go on sale in the past 12 months.