It’s an award that can have a dramatic impact on the model’s sales success – and these are the cars in the running for it.
The Car of the Year 2021 finalists have been announced ahead of February’s final voting by motoring journalists representing various magazines, newspapers and websites from across Europe.
In March, an overall winner will be announced, with cars competing for a single title regardless of the body style or market segment they compete in.
Usually the award is handed out at the Geneva Motor Show, but that has been cancelled for 2021.
Here are the models in the running.
The latest Citroen C4 has been receiving rave reviews because it majors on comfort and practicality, bringing crossover style to the popular family car.
It’s also incredibly stylish, sporting chic, modern looks with some rugged cladding that gives it real character.
When Fiat reinvented the 500 it hit on a real winning combination of cute city car styling and the public appetite for retro design. It’s been a huge sales hit, so a new one was always going to be a big deal.
Fiat made the bold move of making it fully electric, while keeping the older petrol models on sale at the same time.
Again, it has worked a treat, being fun to drive while absolutely nailing a more modern interpretation of the retro look that has served it so well.
The Skoda Octavia used to be considered the smart family car choice, because those who disregarded badge snobbery could get a fantastic family car for incredible value.
However, the Skoda name has grown so much that it’s now no surprise that the latest Octavia makes this list.
It’s the usual Skoda mix of fantastic build quality, top practicality and understated style.
The ID.3 is arguably going to be the Golf of the electric generation, so Volkswagen had to get it right.
It appears it has done so, with the ID.3 featuring smart yet inoffensive styling, a modern interior and a good range of electric powertrain options.
It’s not too expensive, either, which will be vital if EVs are going to really take over the mainstream market.
When Cupra broke off from Seat and pledged to build its own performance cars, no one could have expected the success story that was to come.
The Cupra Formentor is the firm’s first standalone model and a stunning-looking coupe-SUV at that. It shares engines with the Seat Leon hot hatch, so there’s a 306bhp petrol and 242bhp hybrid.
Land Rover Defender
Much like the Fiat 500, but in a completely different sector of the market, the Defender was a reborn icon.
Some hardcore fans of the classic aren’t happy that this model has moved upmarket, but Land Rover has worked hard to make sure it’s still just as well-suited to a tough life as before.
However, now it’s also a fantastic road car with a lovely cabin. It achieves the seemingly impossible task of being able to tackle any off-road terrain you chuck at it while also being supremely comfortable on the school run.
The Defender has already won countless titles, including our Car Dealer Power Car of the Year gong.
The new Yaris is proof Toyota was right to get ahead of the game with hybridisation.
You’ve been able to get a hybrid Yaris for years now, and with the new one that platform has been developed into a fantastic little powertrain that makes this one of the most appealing city cars on sale today.
It’s also ditched the dull looks for something a bit more interesting, which should expand its appeal even further.
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