Car of the Year contenders revealed

Car of the Year contenders revealed

The seven contenders for the 2014 European Car of the Year award have been announced, with judges looking to pin down 'the most outstanding new car to go on sale in the last 12 months'.

A wide range has been revealed across all classes - with electric cars accounting for two of the top seven.

BMW's i3 and Tesla's Model S will battle it out to become the second fully-electric car to win the Car of the Year award after the Nissan Leaf scooped the top prize in 2011.

The i3, which is also available in a hybrid "range extender" option, aims to tap into the luxury electric market by offering a cheaper alternative to the Tesla, which starts at £50,000.

The contest for superiority between the small family hatchbacks will be played out between the third-generation Mazda 3 and the Peugeot 308.

On first glance there is very little to separate the two stylish models. The basic version of the 308 is cheaper than its Japanese rival, but the Mazda does come with slightly more kit as standard.

Both companies have previous success in the European Car of the Year award with cars in this category; the first generation 307 landed the gong in 2002, while the Mark I Mazda 3 earned a runner-up spot in 2004.

Citroen once again leads the way for mini-MPVs with the C4 Picasso facelift providing one of the best models on the market for families with young children, featuring touchscreen interfaces in the spacious cabin to keep youngsters occupied on long journeys.

The Skoda Octavia also features on the shortlist. Since it was taken over by Volkswagen, Skoda has gained a reputation for building solid, reliable, well-priced cars. While the basic models will still appeal to those wanting a no-thrill ride, Skoda has raised the bar with its sporty vRS version that will appeal to the more adventurous motorist.

At the luxury end of the shortlist sits the new Mercedes S-Class. It has already been touted as one of the favourites for the award thanks to a self-parking, self-breaking and top of the range cruise control, as well as a whole host of other technological advances.

Copyright Press Association 2013