What I voted for in the World Car awards and why, and two that didn't make grade
It doesn't mean I'm right or anything like that, but there was a large measure of personal satisfaction in seeing the cars I gave my top votes to emerge as ultimate winners of the three prime categories in this year's World Car of the Year awards.
In previous years it often transpired that I didn't give the ultimate major winners my top marks. This year I did. I put that down to the cars being such strong contenders. They really were.
As you probably know, Volvo's mid-size SUV, the XC60, took the World Car of the Year award. It marks an amazing double for Volvo, which had already taken the European Car of the Year accolade with its small XC40 SUV.
Nissan's new electric car, the LEAF, which has just on sale here (see First Irish Drive on Page 3), took the World Green Car award. Volkswagen's new Polo, meanwhile, took the World Urban car of the Year accolade.
We jurors have to score cars across a broad range of facets - occupant environment, value, safety, environment and market significance etc. The entire process and due diligence are overseen by KPMG, which is a wonderful facility for the awards to have.
On the vehicles, I strongly felt the Volvo XC60 ticked so many of the boxes (sorry for the cliché) that it was the one by some distance. It was chosen from an initial entry of 34 cars and came out well ahead in my books.
The other finalists were the Mazda CX-5 (which I hold in high esteem, especially after it delivered me safely from the icy environs of Lake Baikal in Siberia) and the Range Rover Velar, which picked up the World Design award (didn't vote for it).
The announcements were made at the New York International Auto Show last week.
It was also an easy task to pick the Leaf as World Green Car and to choose the new Volkswagen Polo as the best urban car.
Others to feature were the BMW M5 (World Performance Car - I didn't vote for it) and Audi's A8 (ditto).
My regrets are that the Lexus LS didn't win an award. The stunning Lexus LC deserved to have been considered too, I feel. A real pity.
All cars were selected and voted on by an international jury of 82 top-level automotive journalists, including yours truly, from 24 countries.
Each juror was appointed by the World Car Steering Committee on the basis of expertise, experience, credibility and influence.
It has been a stunning year for Volvo. Winning one major award is an achievement, winning two with two different cars is extraordinary.
Speaking at the announcement, president and CEO Håkan Samuelsson said: "I am pleased to see our company's product investments paying off. We are up against some tough competition."