PARK the futuristic electric cars and hybrids at the roadside, ditch the aluminium and the outlandish – the judges for the 2013 European Car of the Year contest have come into line with public priorities.
Whittling down the 32 contenders, all of which will be on sale in Europe during 2013, to a shortlist of eight, they have gone wholeheartedly for the sort of cars that real-life motorists buy – and hatchbacks lead the way.
No fewer than six hatchbacks feature in the final eight, from which the eventual winner will be chosen on the eve of the Geneva Motor Show in March: Hyundai i30, Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Peugeot 208, Renault Clio, Volkswagen Golf and Volvo V40.
The cast is completed by Ford’s B-Max, an MPV with sliding doors, and the beautiful sports coupé jointly created by Subaru and Toyota and known as the BRZ and GT86 respectively.
After two years when the coveted title was won by alternative propulsion vehicles – the Nissan Leaf and the Vauxhall Ampera – the judges have rejected the two plug-in hybrids, the Volvo V60 and the Toyota Prius, this time round.
Conventional technology is the theme of the day and mostly in the hatchback body style chosen by most European drivers, along with strong safety features, economy and value for money.
All the eight contenders are decent cars, of course, with much to commend them but all represent a compromise of some sort, whether on build quality, value for money or appearance.
Early signs are that there is much support for the Ford, although the door configuration is rather controversial, while the Peugeot and the Golf have been glowingly reviewed.
But the joint venture sports coupé produced by Toyota and Subaru could well be the dark horse. It’s a handsome beast with decent performance and, apparently, great handling, and bears comparison with rivals costing a great deal more.