It is odd, is it not, how the official international Car of the Year (COTY) website makes you look up individual years, rather than publish a full list of winners. It cannot be because of its less auspicious choices such as the Austin 1800 (1964), Simca 1307 (1975), Rover 3500 (1977) or Chrysler Horizon (1979). It has learned some sense since then - less of a Eurovision Song Contest perhaps. This year’s short-list is Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Citroën C3, Dacia Duster, Ford C-Max, Nissan Leaf, Vauxhall Meriva and Volvo S-60.
Journalists’ juries tend to go for racy handling or a classy image. What hacks think about cars is not the same as real buyers paying real money although you can get obsessed with what cars cost. COTY was so embarrassed after electing the Porsche 928 a worthy winner in 1978, that it introduced a stringent price element and hasn’t elected a decent fast car since.
Last week the Association of Scottish Motoring Writers (ASMW) made the Kia Sportage Scottish Car of the Year (SCOTY), a mature judgement reflecting the distinctive Scottish market view of Kia’s seven year unlimited mileage warranty. There are Crossover cars with just as strong claims, including Nissan Qashqai, BMW X1 and Ford Kuga but the Kia is stylish, competitively priced and won the day, much to the delight of Korean executives prsent, for whom this was the first major award for a car only introduced at Geneva. Communications Director Steve Kitson felt confident enough to turn out plenty of management to enjoy the presentation.
John Murdoch, ASMW President, had a busy evening handing out gongs to deserving winners including the splendid Skoda Superb Estate (qv blog) and the Audi R8 Spyder. Executive Car of the Year was the COTY shortlisted Volvo S60. I was surprised not to see the VW Scirocco among the sporty-class winners. The SEAT Leon Cupra R was worthy enough, yet perhaps less deserving of an accolade than the SEAT Leon E Ecomotive, elected Eco Car of the Year.
There has been golf at St Andrews for 600 years. Scottish Car of the Year has been running barely a decade yet it has made its home at the prestige Fairmont, overlooking the ancient city, and its own rolling coastal links. The presentation was professional save for some over-optimism expecting the hotel’s smoke sensors to ignore the indoor (and perfectly safe) pyrotechnics.