World Car of the Year – who can win?

There was a big deal made out of the Nissan Leaf electric car winning the European Car of the Year 2011.

Voted for by industry experts across Europe, the title is the second biggest honour a car can receive in the automotive industry.

That is, second only to the World Car of the Year 2011 title, whose final ten cars were named in a shortlist this week.

The World Car of the Year 2011 has been running for five years and in that time the awards have expanded to include World Performance Car of the Year, World Design Car of the Year and World Green Car of the Year.

The four categories are highly competitive, and the good news for Perrys is the presence of several cars available in our dealerships.

World Car of the Year 2011

The Nissan Leaf makes another appearance in the final shortlist for the award, but the multi-award winning Jaguar XJ should offer stiff competition.

Not only does Jaguar’s newest luxury saloon feature sleeker, more elegant styling as a continuation of the new XK and XK lines, it also offers as much space as its, predominantly German, rivals.

Inside the XJ is packed full of gadgets and the luxurious upholstery and smooth ride is enough to ensure it is a worthy contender for the award.

However, it will be up against saloons from Audi (A8) and BMW (5 series) as well as other luxury cars such as the Porsche Cayenne, BMW X3, compact Audi A1 and Mercedes SLS.

The Volvo S60 and Jeep Grand Cherokee make up the final ten in the award every car manufacturer wants to win.

World Performance Car

The Aston Martin Rapide, Ferrari 458 Italia, Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera and Porsche 911 GT2RS; the ten finalists in the performance car category read like a list of supercar royalty.

Which is why we are pinning our hopes on the more affordable and accessible underdog, the excellent Renault Megane Renaultsport.

The Renaultsport 250 offers 247bhp at 5500rpm from the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine and even comes with a choice of two chassis; ‘Sport’ and ‘Cup’.

Even with a host of options, the Renault Megane Renaultsport edges just above £25,000, making it a truly affordable and thrilling hot hatch.

However, the Audi RS 5 Coupe, Cadillac CTS-V coupe, Mercedes S63 and SLS AMG and the Porsche 911 Turbo are all standing in the way of the only French car on the final shortlist.

World Car Design of the Year

The World Car Design of the Year is one of the most varied an interesting awards on offer. The final eight contestants will be whittled down to just one at the Geneva Motor Show in March by an expert panel of judges.

They will have their work cut out. The Aston Martin Rapide and Ferrari 458 represent the ultra-expensive elite, but the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and Citroen DS3 offer an intriguing alternative.

The Giulietta is a hatchback designed to be sporty and desirable. Aimed at younger buyers, Alfa has gone out of its way to show a practical, safe car (it received a top EuroNCAP safety rating) can be beautifully designed.

Alternatively, the Citroen DS3 hopes to prove it is a return to form for the quirky but stylish French manufacturer. The premium, customisable model is a good looking small car and has all the attributes to take the top award.

The Honda CR-Z, Kia Sportage and Nissan Juke will add even more styles of car to the mix, showing any type of car can be stunning if the design is done well.

Green Car of the Year

The Nissan Leaf may be the first choice to spring to mind in this award, but the Chevrolet Volt offers a compelling argument.

It will appear in the UK as the Vauxhall Ampera and like the Leaf can run on purely electric energy for short distances.

However, it also boasts a small petrol engine to recharge the battery and extend the range to over 350 miles – something modern electric cars cannot achieve.

The Volt, currently on sale in the US, solves the issue of range anxiety and still offers CO2 emissions below petrol, diesel and even conventional hybrid cars.

Other competitors include the BMW 320d Efficient Dynamics Edition, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Mercedes B-Class F-Cell and the Smart electric drive.