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Vauxhall Astra wins 2016 European Car of the Year Awards

By raccars Published

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Announced on the eve of the Geneva Motor Show, the Vauxhall Astra is European Car of the Year.

The European Car of the Year competition is traditionally awarded on the eve of the Geneva Motor Show, chosen by a panel of 58 motoring journalists from various European publications. The voting panel is proportional to the size of the automotive market in each country and the winner is definitive - awards are not given by category.

How the awards are decided

To be eligible for the awards, cars must have been released for sale in Europe in the year leading up to the awards. Nomination is open to any brand, provided that the car is on sale in at least five countries in Europe and has a sales volume of at least 5,000 units annually. Judges assess each model by a number of criteria including comfort, design, driver satisfaction, economy, environmental factors, functionality, handling, performance and price. Technical innovation is also taken into account, as is value for money - which was a particularly important factor this year.

The jurors narrow the candidates down from 35 to a shortlist of seven and each is given 25 points to award among these for the final. These must be distributed between at least five vehicles, with a maximum of ten for any one model. Final scores are published in the interests of transparency.

Fifth generation Vauxhall Astra a decisive winner

On 29 February, the Vauxhall Astra became one of only three cars to have won the top prize more than once, together with the Renault Clio and Volkswagen Golf. The Astra last won in 1985 and this year judges were sufficiently impressed by the latest generation to award it 309 points.

Value for money was one of the Astra's strongest points and the jury commented on how well the latest version had been updated to reflect the needs of the modern market. The fifth generation model is lighter and more compact on the outside but more spacious on the inside than the outgoing model and the cabin displays a notable step up in quality.

Vauxhall has put a great deal of effort into raising standards with the Astra, its second best-selling model in the UK, in the hopes of overtaking its main rival, the Ford Focus. A wide range of new and updated power trains is available, including 1.0 litre, 1.4 litre and 1.6 litre petrol versions and 1.6 litre diesels. Five and six speed gearboxes are available as manual, semi-automatic and automatic units.

There's plenty of modern tech included, with autonomous emergency braking and Vauxhall's OnStar connectivity system (free of charge for the first year), together with the Intellilink infotainment system. Also, and unique in this market segment, the new Astra comes with matrix LED headlamps and ventilated ergonomic front seats with a massage function as an option. It is offered in hatchback and estate formats.

The final scores

The voting was closely divided between the Astra and the second highest scorer, the Volvo XC90, which for a while during the progressive points presentation looked as if it might come out on top, finally settling on 294 points.

The Mazda MX-5 came third with 202 points and scored particularly well with British judges, which put the Audi A4 in fourth place with 189. The Jaguar XE scored 163 points to come fifth, the Skoda Superb was sixth on 147 points while the BMW 7 Series was only just behind it with 143 points to take seventh place in the short list.

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