This year shortlist includes the Land Rover Defender and Citroen C4 – more news in a month or so
The shortlist of seven nominees for Car of the Year 2021 has been announced, chosen from 29 eligible candidates.
Cars must essentially be new and available in at least five European countries at the time of voting; the seven finalists are the Citroën C4, Cupra Formentor, Fiat 500, Land Rover Defender, Skoda Octavia, Toyota Yaris and Volkswagen ID 3.
Some 60 judges representing 23 European countries select the shortlist in a simple vote (including yours truly from Autocar). Second-stage voting takes place between now and the end of February, with the winner to be announced in March.
Traditionally, the announcement takes place in Geneva on the eve of the motor show. This year, the announcement will go ahead on 1 March but broadcast from a location still to be determined.
The second-round vote, which decides the winner, is more complex than the first round. Each juror gets to allocate 25 points across the seven cars. They can give no more than 10 points to any one car, can’t place two cars in equal first place and must give at least five cars some points.
There are six jurors from the UK: me, Autocar senior contributing writer Andrew Frankel, ex-Autocar road tester Vicky Parrott, occasional contributor Andrew English and two very nice people who I think I’m obliged to pretend don’t exist because they write for the enemy.
Normally, we would get together to drive all the candidates on the same roads at the same time, typically near Silverstone, then eat some sandwiches while arguing, before going and independently allocating scores exactly as we wanted to anyway. This year, we will somehow work out a way of doing that.
The full adjudication and every single judge’s comments about every car will appear at caroftheyear.org when the 2021 winner is announced.
The 2020 winner was the Peugeot 208; in 2019, the Jaguar I-Pace won on a countback after it and the Alpine A110 finished in equal first place (the Jaguar received more first-place nominations, which gave it the nod).
Car of the Year, which has been running since 1964, has added three new sponsors to its ranks for 2021. Nine automotive publications from nine countries now support the independent organisation and provide all of its funding; it accepts no manufacturer sponsorship, has no tables at awards ceremonies for sale and charges winning or shortlisted car makers nothing for use of its logo. Manufacturers don’t get charged to enter or even to decide whether they enter; if they’re eligible, they’re in. Not all new car awards are the same.
This year’s longlist of 29 models was a little shorter than usual (in 2019, for example, there were 38 candidates), but cars that didn’t quite arrive in time (such as the Ford Mustang Mach-E) will automatically go onto the 2022 longlist instead.
The shortlist appears reasonable to me, although I nominated some alternatives. That the Hyundai i10 and Mercedes-Benz S-Class both missed out is, I think, a shame, but the Honda E I objectively have a probably unreasonable soft spot for.
I haven’t spent much time in the new Octavia yet, but I know the other shortlisted cars pretty well, and there are some decent potential winners in there. More news in a month or so.