The European Car of the Year award was established in 1964 by a collective of automobile magazines from different countries in Europe. The current organisers of the award are Auto (Italy), Autocar (UK), Autopista (Spain), Autovisie (Netherlands), L'Automobile Magazine (France), Stern (Germany) and Vi Bilägare (Sweden).
The voting jury consists of motoring journalists from publications throughout Europe. Representation from each country is based on the size of the country's car market and car manufacturing industry. The jury for 2006 consisted of 58 members from 22 countries.
There are no categories or class winners — the stated objective is to find a "single, decisive winner" among all competing cars.
Eligible cars are new models released in the twelve months prior to the award. The award is not restricted to European cars, but nominees must be available in at least five European countries, and have expected sales of 5,000 a year.
Nominees are judged on the following criteria: design, comfort, safety, economy, handling, performance, functionality, environmental requirements, driver satisfaction, and price.
A shortlist of seven cars is selected by a simple vote. For the final round of voting, each jury member has 25 points to distribute among the finalists. The points must be distributed to at least five cars, with no more than ten to any one car, and no joint top marks. The voting is open, and each jury member provides published justification for their vote distribution.
Under these rules, the decisiveness of the victory has varied greatly. For example, in 2009, the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia won by a clear 321 points, received maximum points from sixty jurors, and was the top choice of 20. The next year, the Volkswagen Polo won by a mere 10 points, received maximum points from twenty-five jurors, and was the top choice of 59.
|Winners sorted by manufacturer|
|Alfa Romeo||2||156 (1998)||147 (2001)|
|Audi||2||80 (1973)||100 (1983)|
|Chrysler/Simca||2||Alpine/1307-1308 (1976)||Horizon (1979)|
|Citroën||3||GS (1971)||CX (1975)||XM (1990)|
|Fiat||9||124 (1967)||128 (1970)||127 (1972)||Uno (1984)|
|Tipo (1989)||Punto (1995)||Bravo/Brava (1996)||Panda (2004)|
|Ford||5||Escort (1981)||Granada/Scorpio (1986)||Mondeo (1994)||Focus (1999)|
|NSU||1||Ro 80 (1968)|
|Opel/Vauxhall||3||Kadett/Astra (1985)||Omega/Carlton (1987)||Insignia (2009)|
|Peugeot||3||504 (1969)||405 (1988)||307 (2002)|
|Renault||6||16 (1966)||9 (1982)||Clio (1991)||Scénic (1997)|
|Mégane (2003)||Clio (2006)|
|Rover Company||2||P6 (1964)||SD1 (1977)|
|Toyota||2||Yaris (2000)||Prius (2005)|
|Volkswagen||2||Golf (1992)||Polo (2010)|