Awards season continues with the shortlist for the 2015 European Car of the Year, and several talked-about new cars made the cut.
Most controversial may be the BMW 2-Series Active Tourer, the first front-wheel drive car to wear the roundel, as well as the first MPV the company has produced. Never mind what the enthusiasts think, it’s been fairly well reviewed. It does, however, go up against the similarly practical second-generation Nissan Qashqai, which is less expensive and a bit more mainstream.
Two cheap and small French cars made the list, too. The funky and air-bumpy Citroen C4 Cactus and rear-engined Renault Twingo, both shown at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, got the nod for novel features and packaging. Given the European COTY jury’s tendency to go for small, inexpensive cars (Renault’s own Clio is a two-time winner), this could be a match to watch.
Large sedans are also in a two-way contest. The new Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat made the shortlist. Both are smothered in advanced technologies – the Mondeo is now available as a hybrid and the Passat gets a TFT instrument panel – and more attention to detail in an effort to make them more upscale and less fleet manager in status.
But the redesigned Mercedes-Benz C-Class stands as the most upscale competitor. And this fourth-generation C is a significant departure from the model it replaces, with a host of new technologies.
The ECOTY jury has never particularly favored expensive cars, though, so I’d rule against the Mercedes winning. The Qashqai didn’t make the top three when it was first launched and this new model competes with a number of other crossovers now. And while the Mondeo and Passat are probably very good, they’re less important for their makers now that the sedan market has eroded so severely in Europe.
I’d watch the race between the Citroen and Renault, though. But who knows where the first front-wheel drive BMW will end up.
Oh, and if you want to see all of the winners of the European Car of the Year award, Autocar put together a whole list. And there are certainly some forgotten cars on it.