Car of the Year 2012 finalists announced

Vauxhall Ampera
This year sees a big shake up for the prestigious Car of the Year award and from 35 candidates, the eight finalists have been revealed.

Usually, the winner is announced in November of the previous year. However, from 2012, the 59 Jurors will divulge their top car of this year, just before the start of the Geneva Motor Show on March 5th.
The eight cars that have made the final cut are shown below, but which do you think should win?

Car of the Year 2012 nominees
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Car of the Year 2012 finalists announced

The latest member of Citroen's premium DS family, the DS5 will be launched in 2012. The five-door hatchback is also the first Citroen model to be fitted with the HYbrid4, full-hybrid technology that Citroen shares with its sister marque Peugeot. Co2 emissions can be as low as 99g/km depending on which performance setting is used and can drive in full-electric mode at speeds up to 37mph. Inside, Citroen claim that the DS5's interior is inspired by planes and features premium materials such as club leather and brushed aluminium.

A previous winner of this award in 2004, could the Panda go all the way again in 2012? The new Fiat small car combines a bigger body, wider tracks and is stiffer. Inside, cabin room and luggage space are more generous

The latest Focus makes big steps forward in terms of style, equipment and perceived quality. The new car also majors on safety, with options including automatic emergency braking, high-beam control, driver tiredness alert, lane keeping aid and blind spot warning or traffic sign recognition.

At almost £30,000, the Volt is not going to be cheap when it goes on sale this year. However, this petrol/electric hybrid fits so easily into daily life that Chevrolet has surely produced a game-changing car, offering electric power to those who can afford it.

The Evoque has to be one of the most exciting cars of 2011 and with the fancy styling, you would be forgiven for thinking that it would be rubbish in the rough stuff. Well, you'd be wrong as off-road it doesn't disappoint. What's more impressive, is that despite its off-road capabilities, it handles like a sports car on it.

The latest Yaris is a big improvement over the outgoing car. If you value reliability, safety (it has a five-star EuroNCAP rating) and a long warranty (five years, 100,000 miles) over driving thrills, then this could be the supermini to beat.

The Ampera is a very impressive and exciting addition to the green car sector and trumps the Nissan as it overcomes the Leaf's one major issue – the 100 mile range. It's not cheap, but with the Ampera, Vauxhall could just have produced a game-changing car to sell electric power to those who can afford it.

Points won't be scored for spotting the similarities between the SEAT Mii, Skoda Citgo and Volkswagen up! as they are all sister cars that will be making their debuts throughout 2012. Highlights include the spacious interior, attractive styling and the fact that all are great to drive. Despite the silly names, the Volkswagen Group seem to have sewn up the city car class with these three cars, as in my view they are the best.

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