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Volvo XC40 wins European Car of the Year 2018

Published: 05 March 2018

► Volvo XC40 wins COTY
► Swedes score Euro Car of Year
► Behind the scenes in Geneva 

Volvo’s XC40 has stormed to victory in Car of the Year, beating the Seat Ibiza and BMW 5-series into second and third place. The prestigious award, voted for by a jury of 60 European journalists including CAR’s Phil McNamara, was announced at the Geneva motor show today (5 March). The Volvo takes the crown from last year’s winner, the Peugeot 3008.

A clearly proud Hakan Samuelsson, Volvo’s chairman (above), accepted the award, saying: ‘We tried to win this award three years ago, we were almost there with the XC90. But I really believe the XC40 is the right car to win. Getting votes from all the countries shows the car is going to be a success.’

More from the 2018 Geneva motor show

Each juror, from 23 different European countries, has 25 points to apportion across the shortlisted seven cars. Here’s how the scoring went:

  1. Volvo XC40 325 points
  2. Seat Ibiza 242 points
  3. BMW 5-series 226 points
  4. Kia Stinger 204 points
  5. Citroën C3 Aircross 171 points
  6. Audi A8 169 points
  7. Alfa Romeo Stelvio 163 points

Car of the Year, inaugurated in 1964, is one of the most transparent motoring prizes, with all jurors submitting written testimonies to explain their voting. For the full list of verdicts go to: http://www.caroftheyear.org or read on for Phil McNamara’s verdict and his points awarded, in alphabetical order.

Volvo chief at Geneva

Alfa Romeo Stelvio - 1 point from Phil McNamara

2018’s shortlist is full of great cars, with all seven worth points. Alfa Romeo’s Stelvio is the SUV for keen drivers, with responsive communicative steering, strong four-cylinder engines and a reasonable ride. But it’s technologically stunted: owners must forego a big screen, digital instrument pack, driver aids and widespread smartphone mirroring.

Audi A8 - 2 points

The V6 TFSI’s air-sprung ride and refinement are special, and the mild hybrid system enables engine-off coasting to save fuel. But a work in progress: the line-up is limited, touchscreen icons are fiddly, and key active suspension and autonomous tech is still in the pipeline. Kudos to Audi for assuming Level 3 highway autonomy liability though. 

BMW 5-series - 7 points

From 592bhp AWD M5 to 530e plug-in hybrid, creamy sixpot Tourings to the 65mpg 520d, BMW’s 5-series has something for everyone. It’s dynamically exceptional, comfy and quiet, holds its value and a 520d can be leased for £349 a month. Apple CarPlay and many driver assistance systems are cost options though. But for me, it’s the car of the year.

Volvo XC40 wins European Car of the Year 2018

Citroen C3 Aircross - 1 point

Citroën’s C3 Aircross is not a driver’s car, lacking composure with lots of body roll and imprecise steering. But it has many virtues to make it a family favourite: a cute design customisable with two-tone colour, a cushy ride, a versatile cabin with a sliding/folding rear bench and decent room for people/luggage. It’s great value for money too. 

Kia Stinger - 3 points

The Stinger is well out of Kia’s comfort zone: a rear-drive Gran Turismo costing from £32,000. It has a fun, biddable chassis with a standard sporty differential, a high-quality cabin with myriad goodies that’d cost extra elsewhere, lots of space and decent residual values. But the petrol engines, though likeable, drink lustily with a CO2 penalty. 

Seat Ibiza - 5 points

Seat’s spacious Ibiza puts the super into supermini. It’s fun to drive, with precise controls and lots of grip, and though it’s a pretty refined cruiser, the ride can be choppy. Upper trims get a clear 8” touchscreen, options such as smartphone link or rear camera are cheap, and standard autonomous braking helped secure a fine crash test rating.  

Volvo XC40 - 6 points

The handsome exterior is eclipsed by a roomy cabin elevated by beautiful design details. Highway refinement is splendid, and cruising gets even calmer with effective semi-autonomous Pilot Assist (£1400 including blindspot alert). You can lease one for under £300 a month, used values are strong, and it’s a decent steer. What a desirable compact SUV!

By Phil McNamara

Editor-in-chief of CAR magazine

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