Car of the Year: Time to rate the best cars we hope to be driving in 2021

Despite Covid-19, new cars are coming on the market, and it’s motor hacks’ duty to judge them

While the world seems frozen in the grip of Covid-19, the global auto industry has tried to keep the wheels moving, and new cars – the fruit of several years of development – continue to arrive on the market.

And with that comes the duty of the motor hacks to judge them. Amid a plethora of awards these days, where it often seems that there is one for every new vehicle with four wheels (or even three), the Car of the Year for Europe remains a benchmark. Unlike many others, there is no cost of entry for manufacturers, simply a few market criteria and deadlines of arrival in showrooms that the new cars must meet to be considered.

Of a list of 38 candidates this year, seven finalists have been chosen. The magnificent seven are: Citroën C4; Cupra Formentor; Fiat New 500; Land Rover Defender; Skoda Octavia; Toyota Yaris and Volkswagen ID.3.

It’s a heady mix of models, from a very impressive new all-electric VW hatchback to a hardcore off-roader (albeit now with plenty of premium touches). Two superminis battle it out in the mix as well.


Traditional testing events had to be abandoned, but, weaving between lockdowns, test drives have taken place to ensure ample time was spent in cars – though some jury members still have test drives to do. If we get out of lockdown this spring, there will be a lot of driving to do.

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer is Motoring Editor, Innovation Editor and an Assistant Business Editor at The Irish Times