Car of the Year 2014 shortlist announced

Published: 16 December 2013

The seven-car shortlist for the 2014 Car of the Year [CotY] award has been announced. The jury is looking for ‘the most outstanding new car go on sale in the [last] 12 months.’

The contenders for the award this time are:

BMW i3 – the first branch of BMW’s family of electric ‘iCars’, to bear fruit, available in full EV and range-extender form, and aiming to make electric cars desirable at a fraction the price of Tesla’s impressive Model S luxury saloon

Citroen C4 Picasso – Citroen isn’t giving up on the good old MPV despite the onslaught of new crossovers – the new C4 Picasso boasts outlandish bug-eyed design and a fresh take on family-mover cabins, thanks to two enormous touchscreen interfaces to keep the kids – and parents occupied.

Mazda 3 – the third-gen 3 family hatchback is lighter than before thanks to Mazda’s energy-saving ‘SkyActiv’ tech, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s also the prettiest family hatch in the class, and one of the finest to drive, in both petrol and twin-turbo diesel form. The cabin is also massively improved versus the old car – could it be this year’s dark horse?

Mercedes S-class – want to know what the CotY family hatches of 2023 will boast in the tech and safety cupboards? Look no further than the new S-class, always a benchmark for innovation and private jet luxury on wheels. Mercedes says it’s ready to offer a fully autonomous version, but until law-making catches up, this one will cruise on motorways by itself, park and brake itself, and automatically adjusts its ride comfort by scanning the road ahead for bumps. A tour de force, and one of this year’s favourites.

Peugeot 308 – It’s smarter to look at, has a cabin so minimalist it could be displayed in the Louvre as modern art, and is lighter, stiffer and more frugal than any French family hatch before it. It’s a make-or-break car for beleaguered Peugeot – taking the trophy home could be the perfect start to life in the family hatch market warzone.

Skoda Octavia – The new Octavia is based on the VW Group’s MQB platform – significant because it’s the same chassis used by the VW Golf Mk7, 2013’s CotY champ. Offering near exec-saloon levels of space at family hatch prices, it’s the real workhorse of the group here, but should score extra points for the go-faster vRS Estate version, which does the best impression of an unmarked police car of any car on sale today.

Tesla Model S – Elon Musk’s fully electric limo has been on sale in the US for over a year now, but has only just arrived in Europe. Priced from £50k – £85k in Europe, the top-spec ‘Performance’ Model S will outrun a BMW M5, yet manages a realistic 300-mile range on one charge. Plus, the huge touchscreen-dominated cabin is pure concept car theatre, making waves in the real world.

How is the CotY winner selected?

Initially, 32 nominees are chosen by 59 motoring journalists from 23 nations (each juror picks their seven favourites and the most common choices are carried forward.) It’s not just price and performance that matter – safety, value and practicality are valued just as evenly and innovation, tech, and driver enjoyment.

CAR magazine has two jurors in its ranks: European editor Georg Kacher and CAR editor Phil McNamara, who said 'It's a good shortlist, reflecting the breadth of great cars the industry is producing. There are two very different electric cars – both of which bring something new to the EV market – strong C-segment cars from mainstream car makers, and the latest technological masterpiece from Mercedes-Benz.'

The next step is an intensive test-driving programme of the shortlist. The winner will be announced on 3 March 2014, at the Geneva motor show.

>> Which would be your choice for 2014 Car of the Year? And who should (and shouldn’t) deserve a place on the shortlist? Add your comments below