The jurors presiding over the annual World Car of the Year awards at the 2012 New York Auto Show have awarded the top honor to a car that is not offered in the U.S.

In fact, it’s not even offered in all of North America.

Nevertheless, Volkswagen’s tiny up! hatchback has beaten worthy rivals including the BMW 3-Series and Porsche 911 to be voted 2012 World Car of the Year.

The jury, consisting of 66 journalists and auto industry representatives from 25 countries, voted by a majority to name the up! the winner.

They noted that the up! has altered what consumers--outside the U.S.--have come to expect from the city car segment. Of note were its responsive steering, sophisticated suspension setup, efficient engines and high-quality materials and finish.

On a minimal footprint (11.6 feet long) the up! also provides space for four people, plus extremely efficient drive technologies including three-cylinder units for gasoline and diesel fans. The vehicle also comes in three- or five-door bodystyles and in the near future a sporty GT model is expected.

The reason the up! was eligible was because of the competition's rules, which state that to be eligible for the overall World Car award, the candidates had to have been available for sale on at least two continents during the period beginning January 1, 2011 and ending May 30, 2012.

One of the runners up in the competition didn’t go home empty-handed. The 2012 Porsche 911 was voted the winner in the 2012 Performance Car of the Year category, beating out the Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 and McLaren MP4-12C supercars.

Land Rover’s Range Rover Evoque took top honors for the 2012 World Car Design of the Year award, while the Mercedes-Benz S250 CDI BlueEfficiency took out the 2012 World Green Car of the Year award.