The Nissan Leaf has won the 2011 European Car of the Year award – the first electric car to do so.
The Leaf received 257 votes in total from the 58 judges, who hailed from 23 European countries. This was despite the electric Leaf being considered overpriced and having a limiting 100-mile range.
Nissan Leaf wins COTY
The Nissan Leaf beat 40 other cars to take the 2011 Car of the Year crown and made history by becoming the first electric-powered car to take the title.
Car of the Year jury president Hakan Matson said: “The jury acknowledged today that the Nissan Leaf is a breakthrough for electric cars. It is the first EV that can match conventional cars in many respects.”
The Leaf won’t actually be available in the UK until next March.
It is powered by a compact electric motor, which drives the front wheels. It will be capable of 90mph and have plenty of creature comforts, including air conditioning, parking cameras and sat nav.
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Alfa Romeo Giulietta just misses out
The Nissan Leaf took the honour by nine points ahead of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta.
Rounding off the top three was the Vauxhall Meriva, scoring a total of 244 points.
The Ford C-Max, Citroen C3/DS3, Volvo S60/V60 and Dacia Duster completed the final shortlist for the award.
As in previous years, German cars did not rank well with the judges.
But is the Nissan Leaf really the car of the year?
The Leaf’s awarding of the Car of the Year accolade will come as a big surprise to many, and not just because it’s the first electric car to receive the prize.
At £23,990, the Leaf is overpriced compared to similarly-sized conventional cars. And the fact that it only has a 100-mile range limits it to urban use.
But it wouldn’t be the first car to be awarded the honour and then disappoint.
The Alfa Romeo 156 and 147 took the COTY award in 1998 and 2001 respectively, then later went on to become two of the most unreliable cars available.
The award has also been presented to some fairly uninspiring cars, including the Peugeot 307 in 2002 and the Vauxhall Insignia in 2009.
We will have to wait and see how the Nissan Leaf fares when it goes on sale early next year to see if it can buck the Car of the Year curse.
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