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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: November 24, 2010 @ 10:18 pm

    Irish Car of the Year Preview

    Michael McAleer

    Irish Car of the Year Preview

    The Continental Irish Car of the Year will be announced tomorrow in Dublin. From 39 eligible cars, selection of the shortlisted vehicles is based on votes from the 27 voting members of the IMWA of which I am one of the jurors, taking into account such factors as value for money, style, engineering and performance.

    The shortlisted models are as follows (in alphabetical order):

    BMW 5 Series

    Kia Venga

    Nissan Juke

    Nissan 370Z

    Opel Astra

    Peugeot 5008

    Peugeot RCZ

    Renault Fluence

    Saab 9-5

    Skoda Yeti

    A surprise absentee from the list is the Opel Meriva, which would have been in my personal top three, but not all of the jurors drove the car, which prevented it from being considered in the final shakedown.

    Categories were introduced to the Irish Car of the Year a couple of years ago, so there is now not only an award for overall winner, but there are now awards for Small Car, Compact Family Car, Family Car, Luxury Car and Performance and Sports Car.

    BMW 5-Series

    This car has been a massive seller since it arrived this year, even in our troubled times because there has been pent up demand for a new 5-Series and also because the new one is so good and such good value. The 520d is obviously the big-seller in Ireland and was the biggest selling car in August and best of all, you pay just €156 to tax one per year, which we imagine wasn’t what the government had in mind when it introduced an emissions based car tax system.

    Kia Venga

    The Venga was a surprise package for many as few expected it to be quite as endearing as it turned out to be. There was a time when these sort of small, high-roof cars were awful to drive and that isn’t the case with the Venga. It makes an ideal car for a small family.

    Nissan Juke

    This car got my number one vote for this year as it was a total surprise. Having seen the initial photos it seemed that Nissan might have dropped the ball with the Juke, considering they were so successful with the Qashqai, but once we drove the Juke we loved it and this is a car I would buy with my own money because it is practical, fun and great value.

    Nissan Juke

    Nissan 370Z

    This is a great muscle car but sadly is doesn’t really stand much of a chance in Ireland of 2010 because the road tax is horrific and few people will be willing to buy a car with a 3.7-litre V6 petrol engine. It is great fun to drive but now totally out of place.

    Opel Astra

    If there were a car that left me underwhelmed this year it would be the 5-door Astra. It does everything well, but I expected more from Opel after the Insignia and for me the Astra was just another car and did nothing special.

    Peugeot 5008

    After I first drove this in September 2009 I said this was the best MPV on the market for the money and I stand by that. It is a sign of how good Peugeot have got, nicely built, a great diesel engine and cheap to run and laden with kit.

    Peugeot RCZ

    Probably the best real-world sports coupe of 2010, the RCZ is in my mind better looking than the Audi TT that it is always compared with and it drives really well. Most in Ireland will buy the diesel but you are missing a trick here, because the petrol one is genius.

    Peugeot RCZ

    Renault Fluence

    There is a strong chance this could win Irish Car of the Year on the basis that is it extremely good value. We like the Fluence, but it really isn’t that remarkable a car and a car shouldn’t win an award because it is temporarily cheaper than it might be under difference circumstances, but this might happen with the Fluence. We will see.

    Saab 9-5

    I think most commentators were delighted to see Saab come back from the brink and while the 9-5 is and feels very much like a GM product it is quite a nice car. It doesn’t have enough in its arsenal to worry the BMW 5-Series but it is a nice alternative choice.

    Skoda Yeti

    Further proof if it was needed, that this was a good year for cars. The Yeti is a little gem of an SUV and could and probably should have been a Volkswagen because it is good enough to wear a VW badge in terms of styling and quality.

    FOR THE RECORD:

    Here is my voting slip for Irish Car of the Year:

    My final voting paper for Irish Car of the Year


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