European Car of the Year 2020 won by Peugeot 208

Published: 02 March 2020

► Peugeot 208 wins Car of the Year
► Tesla and Porsche a close second and third
► Unveiled to a virtual crowd due to cancellation of Geneva Motor Show 

Peugeot’s 208 has narrowly taken victory in the Car of the Year award, pushing the Tesla Model 3 and Porsche Taycan to second and third place.

The award, voted by 60 European journalists including CAR’s own Editor-in-Chief, Phil McNamara, were still announced in Geneva, despite the Geneva motor show being cancelled. 

A beaming CEO of Peugeot, Jean-Phillipe Imparato, was unable to accept the award in person. But he told the 2,000 people watching online: ‘I can tell you that in the company it has a huge effect and it’s a great honour. We love cars and we recognise this award is handed out by experts. 

‘It’s a big surprise and a big pleasure for us.’ 

The 60 Jury members from 23 European countries apportion 25 points among at least five nominees. 10 points is the maximum a juror can give to one car, and jurors can only give 10 points to one car, not two. The UK has six jury members, with the majority of the UK’s votes going to the Porsche Taycan and Parkers Car of the Year, the Tesla Model 3. 

Here’s how the scoring went:

1.      Peugeot 208                  281 points

2.      Tesla Model 3               242 points

3.      Porsche Taycan             222 points

4.      Renault Clio                  211 points

5.      Ford Puma                     209 points

6.      Toyota Corolla              152 points        

7.      BMW 1 Series               133 points

Phil McNamara’s verdicts, as well as how he handed out points, can be found below. 

Phil McNamara’s voting:

Tesla Model 3

7

If the Taycan is a cost-no-object exercise, Tesla’s Model 3 is about bringing similarly cutting-edge electrification to a broader audience. The sub-£40,000 Standard model (after UK subsidy) should reliably give you a leading 185+ miles of real-world range, and unlike with other EVs there is Tesla’s vast – and fast – charging network to fall back on. The Model 3 is fun to drive and plenty quick, with the option of faster, all-wheel drive models packing more range. Plus it has strong safety credentials and a quirky, high-tech feel from a brand that disrupts traditional car maker thinking. It’s not as polished and dynamic as last year’s electric winner, the Jaguar iPace, but more accessible – and it’s my Car of the Year. 

Porsche Taycan

Mind-blowing zero emissions sports car that’s big on sensations: heart-stopping pace, delicate, responsive steering, an exciting electric soundtrack, trademark Porsche driving position and adjustability. Packed with innovation too, from an 800-volt architecture that slashes weight and permits ultrafast 270kW charging to a two-speed gearbox enabling ballistic launches AND efficient cruising. The future of sports cars looks brighter.

Ford Puma

4

Mild hybridisation of the charismatic Ecoboost three-cylinder engine delivers tangible economy and performance gains, in a chassis that’s fun to drive (if potentially a little firm for some). Decent cabin space, some nice versatility – the Megabox trunk recess and adjustable boot floor – but Ford should look at the 208’s interior and cringe at its own efforts. Nonetheless the best small SUV on the market. 

Peugeot 208

A supermini with stacks of showroom appeal, courtesy of a fabulous exterior design, a cabin bristling with class and technology, and a drivetrain for everyone with the inclusion of an electric version. The 208 drives nicely too, with decent refinement and a superior ride and three-cylinder petrol to Renault’s Clio. It’s tangibly more expensive though, and base cars only get a 4-star safety rating with cyclist detection not standard – as on the Renault.

Renault Clio

3

Big leap forward in Clio interior quality, but the same-again exterior masks its advances. The novel hybrid version is punchy, smooth and should offer decent electric range and just 82g/km of CO2. Impressive standard safety kit also includes lane assist and traffic sign recognition, and it’s good value on both list price and monthly rental.

BMW 1-series

1

Extremely polished family hatch with strong engines. The standard multi-link rear suspension (optional on many competitors) endows the 1-series with a supple ride, plenty of grip and feelsome if overlight steering unless you press Sport. Classy interior too. But shortlisted rival models are more electrified, delivering economy and emissions advantages. 

Toyota Corolla

If you’re a primarily urban driver with nowhere to plug in, then this highly evolved hybrid from the trailblazers is a good compromise, offering decent fuel economy and reduced emissions. Great chassis and excellent safety kit too. But there are drawbacks: it’s not that efficient for motorway drivers, batteries eat into boot space, and it’s pricey.

By Murray Scullion

Bauer Automotive’s finance editor; keeps an eye on finance trends and manufacturer deals. Loves old fast cars

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