Friday 2 December 2016

Who is top of the crop for 2012?

Campbell Spray and Shane O'Donoghue reveal what their choices are for the top 10 vehicles in the final of the prestigious 2012 Continental Irish Car of the Year awards

Shane O'Donoghue

Published 13/11/2011 | 05:00

Why our top 10 are a cut above the rest

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In total, 46 cars were eligible for the first round of voting for the 2012 Continental Irish Car of the Year. That's a massive number and the final shortlist of just 10 cars is a good cross-section, with everything from tiny town cars to sensible saloons, family favourites, sports coupes and an SUV for good measure. By the time you read this, each member of the Irish Motoring Writers' Association will have ranked the finalists to their preference and the outright winner will be announced this Thursday at the Convention Centre in Dublin.

We thought it'd be interesting this year to reveal our own voting preferences. If only everything in this country was so transparent ...

I've put the Honda CR-Z into 10th place. That's no shame in this company, but I feel it's the least relevant contender. Don't get me wrong, it's a hoot to drive, brilliantly engineered and highly efficient -- but it appeals to a tiny number of buyers.

Amidst talk of double-dip recession it's a little surprising that the Mercedes-Benz SLK and C-Class Coupe made it into this list, the former in particular. Hence they're in 9th and 8th spot respectively for me. Saying that, if I was in the market for such a thing I'd have the C-Class Coupe over the current BMW 3 Series Coupe and the SLK is cooler than it ever was.

In comparison to other MPVs, I rate the Ford C-Max quite highly, but I'd rather see the seven-seat Grand C-Max on this list, as it's far more useful. Its five-seat sibling only manages 7th place.

The Kia Picanto slots into 6th. It's one of three Korean cars in my top six. It is good-looking, well-equipped and keenly priced and raises the game for its class.

As you'll read elsewhere in this paper the Hyundai i40 won us over when compared to the Peugeot 508 in estate guise. Put simply, it legitimately competes in all areas, yet is cheaper to buy and has an unbeatable warranty package. That explains why I've put the Hyundai in 4th spot, ahead of the Peugeot.

So we're down to the top three. I'd be very surprised if the overall winner isn't one of these. I've given bronze to the new Ford Focus. As you'd hope, it's a really good family car that does everything well while rising above its predecessor in terms of quality.

Receiving the silver is the Kia Rio. If you're familiar with the previous car of the same name then this may be a bit of a shock, but the new Rio not only eclipses its ancestor, it moves the game on for all small cars. It very nearly went top of my list.

That was until I spent some time in the Range Rover Evoque. I'll acknowledge that its €40,000 starting point puts it well outside the reach of many buyers, but by the same token that amount of money buys some pretty humdrum cars. The Evoque is the antithesis to those; it's one of the most interesting cars to hit the market for some time. Not only that, but it drives ridiculously well, is pretty efficient and it exudes quality from every pore. It's little wonder Land Rover can't make them quick enough.

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