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And The Winners Have Been…

It’s a funny thing about Car of the Year (COTY) awards. Everyone’s agog to hear what this year’s winner is going to be, and car manufacturers are usually very proud to scoop the title. However, who actually remembers the winners of four or five years ago? You probably only remember if a particular vehicle was a winner if (a) you bought it or owned a new one about the time that the car got the award, or (b) you’re a car enthusiast with a taste for lists, facts and figures.


What makes things even more confusing is that there seem to be umpteen COTY titles. In Australia, we’ve got the Wheels Magazine COTY award, which has been running for ages but isn’t viewed by purists as a “real” COTY award for some reason or other, probably to do with how this award only gives out the grand prize to new releases rather than older makes that have undergone some serious overhauling and tweaking. And you’ve got other COTY awards that have multiple categories rather than one big overall COTY prize, on the grounds that you should compare Granny Smiths with Braeburns and Galas rather than apples with peaches. Then you’ve got COTY awards for nearly every country in the world. However, the COTY award with the most clout seems to be the European one, which draws its judging panels from eight EU nations, most of which are notable car-manufacturing countries (or were before the trend for outsourcing things and big buyouts).


At the moment, the European COTY judging is going on, and 35 vehicles are on the first list. We’ve got about a month to wait until the shortlist comes out, but it’s good to see a real mix of vehicles on this list, most of which you can get over here in Australia. Interestingly, this list counts two cars that are basically the same but have different badges and names as one car – e.g. Subaru BRZ and Toyota GT86.

In the past, the following vehicles have managed to take out the European COTY award, considered by many to be the COTY award. Have a look through, and the boffins among you might like to play around with the statistics regarding manufacturer, body style, engine size and so forth so see what sort of car is most likely to win – or how what’s considered desirable in a car has changed over the years (spot the years of fuel shortages, anyone?). This award has been dished out since before this writer was born, so there’s a lot of them. Here goes…

  • 1965: Rover 2000, sedan, engine size uncertain
  • 1966: Austin 1800, sedan, 1.8 litres
  • 1967: Renault 16, 1.5 or 1.6 litres, best described as a hatchback
  • 1968: NSU Ro 80, engine size uncertain, kind of a coupé
  • 1969: Peugeot 504, 1.8 litres, sedan
  • 1970: Fiat 128, 1.1 and 1.3 litres, sedan and station wagon
  • 1971: Citroën GS, hatchback, 1.0 and 1.2 litres
  • 1972: Fiat 127, hatchback, 0.9 litres
  • 1973: Audi 80, sedan, 1.3 and 1.6 litres
  • 1974: Mercedes-Benz 450S, sedan, 4.5 litre V8 engine
  • 1975: Citroën CX, 2.4 litres, probably best described as a coupé
  • 1976: Simca 1307-1308, hatchback, 1.3 litres for the 1307 and 1.4 for the 1308
  • 1977: Rover 3500, hatchback
  • 1978: Porsche 928, sports coupé, 4.5 litres
  • 1979: Simca-Chrysler Horizon, sedan
  • 1980: Lancia Delta, sedan, 1.5 litres
  • 1981: Ford Escort, sedan
  • 1982: Renault 9, sedan,
  • 1983: Audi 100, sedan, 2.2 litres
  • 1984: Fiat Uno, hatchback, 0.9 or 1.3 litres
  • 1985: Opel Kadett, 1.8 litres, hatchback and sedan
  • 1986: Ford Scorpio, sedan, 2.9 litres
  • 1987: Opel Omega, sedan, 1.8 and 2.0 litres
  • 1988: Peugeot 405, sedan, 1.9 litres
  • 1989: Fiat Tipo, hatchback
  • 1990: Citroën XM, 3.0 litres, coupé-ish
  • 1991: Renault Clio, hatchback
  • 1992: Volkswagen Golf, hatchback, 2.0 and 2.8 litres
  • 1993: Nissan Micra, hatchback (and the first non-European car to take the title)
  • 1994: Ford Mondeo, sedan; 1.6, 1.8 and 2.0 litres
  • 1995: Fiat Punto, hatchback,
  • 1996: Fiat Bravo/Brava, hatchbacks (Bravo had 3 doors, Brava had 5)
  • 1997: Renault Megane Scenic, MPV/station wagon
  • 1998: Alfa Romeo 156, coupé,
  • 1999: Ford Focus, hatchback
  • 2000: Toyota Yaris, hatchback, 1.0 litres
  • 2001: Alfa Romeo 147, hatchback
  • 2002: Peugeot 307, hatchback, 2.0 litres
  • 2003: Renault Megane, every body style you can think of except for 4×4, 1.9 litres
  • 2004: Fiat Panda, hatchback, 1.3 litres
  • 2005: Toyota Prius, sedan (first hybrid to win COTY)
  • 2006: Renault Clio III, hatchback
  • 2007: Ford S-Max, MPV
  • 2008: Fiat 500, hatchback
  • 2009: Opel/Vauxhall Insignia,
  • 2010: Volkswagen Polo, hatchback
  • 2011: Nissan Leaf, hatchback, electric motor
  • 2012: Chevrolet Volt, sedan, hybrid 1.4