Georg Kacher: my 2012 Car of the Year verdict

Published: 05 March 2012

Toyota Yaris
1 point

Okay, so this is the cheapest hybrid on the market. But as a car, even the green Yaris is not as desirable as one of the better petrol- or diesel-engined rivals.

Citroen DS5                  
1 point

Great design, great interior, great quality. Shame about the artificial steering, the grabby brakes and the unacceptable ride.

4 points

The Up is a true Volkswagen: solid, sensible, safe. It's not a breakthrough effort, but the Up does score in all important departments, and it fails in none. While the initially available models donĀ“t make my heart beat any faster, Cross Up, e-Up and GT Up are just around the corner should enhance the appeal. Having said that, the Polo is close in price and superior in ability.

Ford Focus  
4 points

True, the handling is not as sharp as it used to be, the new body design is not quite as shapely anymore, and the cockpit layout still confuses function with fashion. But the new 1.0-litre Ecoboost engine is a gem, space utilisation is good, and even with all those driver assistance systems fitted the Ford is still good value for money.

Fiat Panda   
4 points

The new Panda is no longer just a cute little thing from an ailing brand that struggles from one quarter to the next. Instead, the 2012 model is a seriously competent and totally charming small car. Roomy, comfortable, well equipped and nicely put together, the latest entry-level Fiat is also fun to drive - especially when fitted with the lively and frugal two-cylinder TwinAir engine.

Opel Ampera                
5 points

A coherent concept, a convincing execution, a compelling experience. No more range anxiety! Up to 50 clicks of silent zero emission fun! As well as good looks, a cushy ride, decent handling and a serious image bonus. So why doesn't the Opel win? Because it commands a steep asking price, is no performance champ, and consumes too much fuel once the initial battery charge has been used up.

Range Rover Evoque       
6 points

The winner of the heart. Looks stunning inside and out, relays that coveted feel-good factor, is a great drive especially in SD4 form. No, it does not ride well on 20-inchers, and it is pricey when nicely equipped. But to me, it has the strongest must-have appeal of the whole 2012 vintage. After the Leaf that did not happen in time, good reason and the green conscience take a break this year.

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel