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The CAR Top 10: undeserving Car of the Year winners

Published: 30 January 2017

► Undeserving Car of the Year winnners
► It's our Top 10 worst COTY champs
► Do you agree with our list? 

It’s nearly time for the cream of Europe’s motoring press to choose the best car of 2017. Let’s hope they do better than this lot of spudders. 

1) 1979 Chrysler Horizon

Chrysler Horizon

A classic case of unintentional irony, the Horizon was the most expedient solution to replace the neolithic Simca 1100. Chopping up the bigger Alpine meant it was spacious and relatively cheap, but its outputs were feeble and its most impressive tech highlight was a trip computer. Winner!

2) 1981 Ford Escort

Ford Escort

Theory has it you can’t burnish excreta, but the third Escort was wheeled proof to the contrary. Inside and out the crisply-styled Mk3 Escort was a big leap, but underneath the glitter veneer the new independent suspension was flawed. Enough to beat Panda and Metro to the silverware though.

3) 1982 Renault 9

Renault 9

Focus groups are useful, but only if you burn the results. For decades Renault rivalled Citroën for its avant-garde approach to design. Then they decided to change tack, clinic customers and were told they didn’t want innovation or flair. The result? C’est fini. Oh, and it had three facelifts in nine years…

4) 1990 Citroen XM

Citroen XM

We love Citroëns, but if we’re being completely honest, it’s chiefly those built before 1990. The XM was full of good ideas but executed with mixed success, like France’s approach to WWII. Worthy it might have been but the game had already changed – and it was no longer boules.

5) 1996 Fiat Brava/Bravo

Fiat Bravo/Brava

Just a year earlier Fiat had bagged ECotY thanks to the at least game-altering Punto. One can only imagine that the contemporary jurors were wowed by the notion of the three-door being called Bravo and the five-door Brava. Thereafter the word Bravo! was never heard in relation to either car.

6) 2000 Toyota Yaris

Toyota Yaris

Toyota had long nailed bulletproof reliability, so the Yaris’s sole innovation was its centrally mounted instrument panel complete with Tron graphics. More galling is that the Yaris beat the admittedly fugly-but-clever Fiat Multipla and the admittedly clever-but-requiring-oven-gloves Zafira.

7) 2001 Alfa Romeo 147

Alfa Romeo 147

Proving its reputation of lurching from staid conservatism to romantic idealism, a year after the Yaris the European motoring elite voted for Alfa’s 147. Tellingly it beat the Mk2 Mondeo by a solitary point, and the first gen Toyota Prius by nine. And rightly so, hybrids will never catch on.

8) 2002 Peugeot 307

Peugeot 307

Seven isn’t a particularly lucky number for Peugeot. The 306 was a good steer, but its successor ironed out all the verve in favour of an Alba-inspired interior and softer chassis. Mind you, 2002 was clearly not a great vintage as the 307 beat the Renault Laguna and Fiat Stilo…

9) 2008 Fiat 500

Fiat 500

Wait, what? Iconoclastic it might be but the feting of the 500 was a masterpiece of fine Italian wool-pulling. Yes it’s cute and charming but it’s also small, wheezy unless you go for the later TwinAir and not all that to drive. Good job we didn’t name it our Car of the Year then. Ah.

10) 2014 Peugeot 308

Peugeot 308

It might seem like we have it in for Peugeots, but really we don’t. The 308 is capable but not the best C-segment hatch then or now. Yet it beat BMW’s i3 by 83 – yes, you read that right – 83 points, and in third was that other bastion of Luddite thinking, the Tesla Model S.

By Matt Joy

Former associate editor of CAR magazine

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