The annual search for the “most outstanding new car to go on sale” in Europe in the preceding 12 months is on. With the fact that a hybrid/electric model has won two of the past three years, is the winner already apparent? ESM rates their chances below.
Voting in the European Car of the Year contest has traditionally favoured “homegrown” brands such as FIAT (9 wins) and Renault (6 wins), over the course of the past 50 years. However, neither marque has a contender amongst the finalists this time round, so could we see a first time winner come March 2014?
ESM loves the i3, so does the Tame Geek. Can the European voting panel decide to love it too? With such a strong precedent set for an electric winner, the i3’s chances are high. But it is a contender on merit alone, with a supremely well-rounded package, and support mechanisms to counter many of the hybrid “range anxiety” issues.
A serious potential champion. Chance of winning – 9/10
Citroën C4 Picasso
Radical styling to solve a practical problem. The previous generation C4 Picasso came third in 2007, so a strong showing again should be expected. Is it a game changer? For Citroën it tries to make the brand more ‘premium’ but this comes at a time when every other manufacturer is seemingly taking themselves upmarket too.
Should score well, but doesn’t deserve the crown – 6.5/10
Now in its third iteration, the Mazda3 builds on strong values of its predecessors to be a serious contender in the tough C-segment market. Is it as good as, or better than, last years victorious Volkswagen Golf? Probably not. Does it bring anything new to the party to be considered outstanding? Again, probably not. Unlikely to better second place that the first generation car claimed in 2004.
Well executed, but hardly something to get excited about – 6/10
It’ll be 40 years since the W116 S-Class took the top prize back in 1974; could its offspring make a repeat success? Ultimate luxury, class leading technology, advanced safety features – the new S-Class truly is top of the pile. Traditionally, the S-Class sets the standard for features which trickle down to lesser models years later. But can it really win with that two-spoke steering wheel?!
Certainly has the cutting edge technology to succeed, but can a list price starting at £62,000 really be celebrated in a time of austerity? – 8/10
Peugeot treated the lacklustre 308 to a comprehensive overhaul this year, with the aim of taking the model (predictably) upmarket. Better looking, and better finished inside, the new 308 is a big leap forward compared to the old model. Although given how poorly rated its predecessor was, improving should hardly be seen as a major achievement.
Brings nothing new to the party, at all, but may still score well due to the simple fact it’s French – 5/10
The perennial favourite of North-East minicabbers is now in its third generation. With the, inetivable, increase in interior quality comes even greater exterior dimensions. This comfortably places the Octavia above the VW Golf or Ford Focus on size terms. It may not be a revelation in terms of on-the-limit handling, but presents itself as a good value family car.
Ranks high for value for money; a key commodity in this current age? – 7/10
Tesla Model S
As another all-electric contender, the Model S must surely be in with a good chance of claiming the top prize. It’s, genuinely luxurious, handsome, and refined whilst also bringing all the benefits of zero-emissions. Whilst it can hardly be considered cheap at £50,000, it does prove that environmentally friendly motoring needn’t come with the hair-shirt of no creature comforts.
Has to be in with a shout, providing the judges don’t place too much stock in those unverified stories of the Model S catching fire. – 8.5/10
The final answer will be revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2014, following evaluation of all seven contenders by teams of journalists from various motoring publications. ESM will bring you all the details on the winner once announced.