Ireland names its favourite cars of 2011

In the 33rd year of the Continental Car of the Year awards, the Peugeot RCZ topped the performance car category ahead of rivals such as the Audi TT.

Impressing judges on innovation, safety, comfort, build quality and driving quality, the sporty 2+2 coupe wins the award in its first year of sale, a feat matched by the overall winner of the awards in 2009, the Peugeot 3008.

This year, the Nissan Juke crossover took the top award, but Peugeot recorded a double success with the Peugeot 5008 MPV named Continental Family Car of the Year by Irish motoring writers.

The compact, seven-seat MPV is Peugeot’s first entry into the compact people carrier market, and the huge panoramic windscreen and bold styling endeared it to judges.

In the overall car of the year awards, the Kia Venga finished in second place, another boost in a week when the updated SUV was awarded a top five-star EuroNCAP safety rating.

The BMW 5 Series and Skoda Yeti SUV finished fourth and fifth respectively.

There was a boost for UK manufacturing, with the Vauxhall Astra (named Opel Astra in Ireland) finished fifth overall in the awards.

The family hatchback-size car, which is built in Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant in Cheshire, finished ahead of perennial rival the Ford Focus to break into Irish motoring writers’ top five favourite cars.

All of the cars in the top five were understandably judged on value for money due to the current economic situation in Ireland, and judges believe the award will be a welcomed boost in popularity for the models.

The cars were awarded the titles in a ceremony at the Convention Centre in Dublin, which was attended by some of the leading figures from the motor industry.