The Insignia has already proved a hit with the European press, and no one can deny its dashing looks

The Insignia has already proved a hit with the European press, and no one can deny its dashing looks

Europe’s annual Car of the Year awards are on again and the finalists have been revealed. Whittled down to just seven front-runners from a field of 38 candidates, the competition is expected to be exceptionally close - there is no run-away favorite. Last year’s winner - the Fiat 500 minicar - was something of a shoo-in, picked for its high safety levels and popular exterior styling.

The seven finalists this year, on the other hand, are equally - if differently - capable of winning the overall title. Already a number of very strong cars have been eliminated, including BMW's 7-series, the Jaguar XF, the Volkswagen Scirocco and the Mercedes-Benz GLK. The handful of cars left will battle it out for the judges' approval.

The European Car of the Year awards are judged by a panel of 59 members, representing 23 European countries. National representation on the panel is related to the size of the country's car market and its importance in car manufacturing, with France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Spain topping the list with six members each.

To be eligible, the cars must be available for sale in at least five European countries within the 12 month period prior to the winner’s announcement on November 17 at the Paris Motor Show.

The seven finalists are:
- Alfa Romeo Mito
- Citroen C5
- Ford Fiesta
- Opel/Vauxhall Insignia
- Renault Megane
- Skoda Superb
- VW Mark VI Golf