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VW Golf wins 2013 European Car of the Year

Mon, 04 Mar 2013

Volkswagen's Golf is the 2013 Car of the Year. Announced at a ceremony on the eve of the Geneva motor show, the seventh-generation Golf scored the most points from the 58 voting jury members, from 22 European countries.

Each juror has 25 points to distribute among the eight-strong shortlist, which this year comprised:

Peugeot 208
Renault Clio
Ford B-Max
Hyundai i30
Volkswagen Golf
Mercedes A-class
Volvo V40
Subaru BRZ/Toyota GT86

It was a resounding victory for the Golf, which scored 414 points to the second placed BRZ/GT86's 202. The Volvo V40 ranked third with 189 points.

Volkswagen's r&d boss Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, and design cheif Walter de'Silva, were on hand to collect the trophy. 'It's a big honour to get this prize,' de'Silva told the crowd in the Geneva show hall.

President of the COTY jury Hakan Matson said: 'We started with 32 contenders, so to reach the shortlist was a big achievement. All eight finalists are winners.'

CAR is represented on the jury by its editor Phil McNamara and long-standing European editor Georg Kacher. McNamara's top three was Golf, BRZ/GT86 and V40, while Kacher rated the BRZ/GT86 first, with the Golf and V40 equal second.

The original Mk1 Golf was European Car of the Year runner-up in 1975, and every generation since has been on the COTY podium.

Here's how the pair voted, and the overall result:

European Car of the Year Nominee Phil McNamara Georg Kacher Overall result Hyundai i30 0 points 1 point 111 points Peugeot 208 0 points 1 point 120 points Renault Clio 0 points 1 point 128 points Mercedes A-class 3 points 5 points 138 points Ford B-Max 2 points 1 point 148 points Volvo V40 5 points 4 points 189 points Subaru BRZ/Toyota GT86 7 points 7 points 202 points Volkswagen Golf 8 points 5 points 414 points


Phil McNamara's 2013 COTY verdict

Hyundai’s i30 feels outclassed in this company, and while Clio and 208 have likeable elements, they’re not class-leaders.

Ford’s B-Max bests them for quality and refinement, and it lavishes space on occupants despite a compact size.

The A-class ranks lowest of the big hatches: engines can be gruff, the dual-clutch ‘box hesitant, the ride lumpy. But its agility and flamboyant looks are big draws.

The Volvo V40 undercuts the Merc on price, is more comfortable, and boasts this year’s most appealing cabin, plus an array of unintrusive safety features.

With the jury unjustifiably overlooking the BMW 3-series, rear-wheel drive is represented by BRZ/GT86. This car makes me feel like a 17-year-old driver again, seeking out deserted car parks for lairy manoeuvres. The pedals, gearbox and steering are terrific; Subaru has thrillingly revived rear-drive for Golf GTi money.

Finally, VW’s Golf, offering peerless refinement, meticulous engineering, superb economy and CO2 figures, the smooth ACT engine with cylinder shutdown – at keen prices. It’s my car of 2013.   


Georg Kacher's 2013 COTY verdict  

This choice was made by the child inside. Anyone who grew up with dogbone Escorts and two-rone Kadett GT/Es will understand why this year there can only be one winner. No more boring cars, Toyota, and you will come good again.

Mercedes A-class
If rear headroom, three-quarter visibility and the size of the loading bay really are key deciders, then the A-class should fall through the grid. But if the ranking is based on driving pleasure, emotional design and compelling engineering, the Merc must be given the credit it deserves.

VW Golf
Can´t fault the Golf. It offers the widest choice of engines, the broadest model range, the most complete modular architecture. Evolutionary rather than pace-setting, it just does not set my heart on fire with quite the same vigour and intensity as the Toybaru.

Volvo V40
Interesting design. Interesting turbo engines. Interesting line-up, from 24/7 to sporty to go anywhere. The Volvo covers middle ground with charme and competence.

Ford B-Max
Not sure about the small wheels, the annoying ergonomics, the advantages of the door concept. But the entertaining handling and that three-cylinder engine are spot-on.

Hyundai i30
Affordable and adequate in most areas, the i30 breaks no new ground. It´s a decent all-rounder - no more, but no less either.

Peugeot 208
What saves the 208 is the GTi. The 200bhp pocket rocket proves that Peugeot has not lost the plot. The run-of-the-mill versions, however, are truly forgettable.

Renault Clio
Funky looking, quite spacious (Grandtour) and available with a clever infotainment system, the Renault is about as exciting to drive as if it had conceived by a committee run by Hertz, Avis and Alamo. The RS is more involving, but not by much.


By Ben Pulman