In Depth

2016 European Car of the Year contenders revealed

Six of the best cars from 2015 have chosen from first list of 40 and will be judged by selection of motoring journalists

The six contenders for the 2016 European Car of the Year have been announced.

The results of the award will be revealed at the Geneva Motor Show next year after a selection of motoring journalists across Europe cast their votes to decide which car will take the trophy from current title holder, the Volkswagen Passat.

Past winners include the Nissan Leaf, Fiat 500, and Volkswagen Golf.

So which car will be crowned this year in Switzerland?

Audi A4

Audi's 3 series rival gets shortlisted for European Car of the Year. Now in its fifth generation, the styling of the A4 isn't too different to its predecessor, but it's the added space combined with a new interior and new engines which has won the A4 favour.

According to Top Gear, underneath the "same-again skin, there is much to celebrate, with more key tech than its rivals."

BMW 7-Series

The new version of BMW's 7 series includes new six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, as well as debuting the option of a plug-in hybrid powertrain. It's also up to 230kg lighter than the 7 series it replaced, thanks to part carbon fibre construction, and comes packed with luxury options such as massage chairs and two 10-inch TV screens.

When Auto Express drove the 730d, they said "The Mercedes S-Class is no longer able to keep the 7 Series at arms length."

Volvo XC90

Volvo's large seven-seat SUV starts from £45,550 and replaces the previous XC90 which had been on sale since 2002. The way it looks highlights the future direction of the Volvo design language, and complimenting its minimalist exterior is an equally simple, but family-friendly interior. Hybrid power is available.

"Volvo has succeeded admirably. Sound judgement – in performance, spaciousness, efficiency, styling and cabin ambience – is as unmistakable as lacquer on pine." Says Autocar.

Mazda MX-5

Priced from £18,495 in the UK, the little Mazda continues to be the small sports car to beat. And it is small, barely heavier and actually shorter than the original model introduced in 1989. Both engines are four-cylinders, available in 1.5 litre 129bhp guise, or the bigger 2.0 litre with 158bhp.

It's an old fashioned sort of thing according to Top Gear, who say "The MX-5 has not revolutionised the car world at all. But it has proved that old-school recipes can be brought bang up to date."

Jaguar XE

Jaguar's latest entry into the 3-series/E-class segment has proven its worth. The new XE was received positively by the motoring press, and stands a chance of winning the top prize. The Jaguar XE looks good, but also has a good choice of both diesel and petrol engines, starting with a 2.0 litre diesel with 161bhp, all the way up to (for now) a 3.0 litre supercharged V6 good for 335bhp.

The car found particular favour with Auto Express, who claim the XE really means business and have also crowned it their compact executive car of the year 2015.

Vauxhall Astra

The recently released Astra goes tech heavy in pursuit of its rivals. Vauxhall's OnStar on demand assistance and new Intellilink screen uses 4G (free for the first year) to power both roadside assistance functions, as well as smaller comforts such as in car Wi-Fi. It's not a bad thing to drive by all accounts too.

"It has an outstanding diesel engine and agile handling, while its infotainment and safety technologies provide selling points you might not expect from an old, mass-market brand." Says Autocar.

Skoda Superb

The final contender is Skoda's larger family car, the Superb. Skoda's flagship model uses VWs MQB platform, but weighs 75kg less than its predecessor and is very spacious. It's got an all four-cylinder petrol or diesel engine line-up, all of them cheap to run, as well as plenty of tech options including park assist.

Auto Express claim the Superb is "comfortable, quiet and relaxing whether you’re in the front or the back, and can even be hustled along at a fair pace with the optional adaptive dampers set to Sport."

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