New Vauxhall Meriva shortlisted for top award

In 2009 the Vauxhall Insignia saloon was declared the most outstanding new car in Europe by a judging panel made up of senior motoring journalists, but Vauxhall lost the title to the Volkswagen Polo in 2010.

The Vauxhall Meriva has now been shortlisted alongside six other cars for the top automotive award, fending off competition from 34 other new models to be named in the last seven.

"Being shortlisted for Car of the Year is a great honour," said Duncan Aldred, Vauxhall’s Managing Director. "We won the contest two years ago with the Insignia and were shortlisted last year with the Astra, so we’re pinning are hopes on the Meriva’s unique features and innovation to win over judges this year."

Features such as the innovative rear-opening doors create a safe load area for parents, while the flexible seating configuration is a further addition to the Meriva range.

The cars will be judged on design, comfort, safety, handling, performance, price and environmental credentials for the awards, with the winner being named 2011 Car of the Year.

At just £12,995 and with a low-CO2 ecoFLEX model available after launch, Vauxhall is confident it can fulfil the criteria.

Traditionally, compact people carriers have done well in the awards, with arguably the first ever European compact MPV, the Renault Megane Scenic, picking up the award in 1997.

However, it faces competition from the smaller Citroen C3 supermini and Ford’s sporty S-Max compact MPV in the race to be named Europe’s best car of the past 12 months.

Other models nominated for the award include the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Dacia Duster, Volvo S60 and the electric Nissan Leaf.