Who will win Europe’s 2021 Car of the Year?
The shortlist for the European Car of the Year has been revealed. Jurors from 23 countries—including the U.K. despite Brexit!—will pick from the Citroën C4, Cupra Formentor, Fiat 500, Land Rover Defender, VW ID.3 and Toyota Yaris.
Only the the Land Rover, VW and Toyota are familiar to U.S. buyers so here’s a quick rundown on all the finalists before the jury reaches its decision on March 1.
The C4 is a compact crossover which brings back the French firm’s traditional values, putting ride comfort above all else. It comes in gas, diesel and electric variants, comes well-loaded and is priced to sell. The judges may well appreciate Citroën’s return to form.
Spun out of the also-all-caps Spanish SEAT brand, which is in turn owned by the VW Group, the CUPRA Formentor is an SUV coupe that doesn’t sacrifice practicality for style. It’s also pretty rapid, with the range-topping version packing a 310-hp turbo motor and all-wheel-drive. A fine effort from the newcomer that could swing a few judges.
It may look like little more than a facelift but this 500 is all-new and all-electric. The Italian city car can stretch to almost 200 miles on a full charge, and zip into the smallest of parking spaces to boot. And it’s one of the most affordable EVs in Europe, which the jurors will know all-too-well.
Land Rover Defender
Another icon reborn, the Defender is immensely capable off-road and on. With a modern interpretation of a classic design it may not be to everyone’s taste, but our reviewer was certainly sold. Will the judges be too?
Czech-made Skoda is another VW subsidiary and its Octavia sits on the same platform of the Golf. It’s a tidy looking family estate with a rather lovely, almost Audi-like, interior and is decent to drive. It’s a solid choice, if the jury isn’t feeling adventurous.
The electric ID.3 isn’t the new Beetle in the sense that it doesn’t replace the original bug or its successors, but it also is the new Beetle in that VW fully intends the car to be sold in massive numbers and change driving as we know it. That makes it a very strong contender for overall victory.
Alongside the sensible, practical little Yaris Toyota produced something that’s off-the-charts crazy. The GR Yaris, a 300-hp rally-bred pocket rocket that has taken reviewers and buyers by storm. If we had a vote this is where it’d go.