Later this afternoon the Continental Irish Car of the Year 2014 will be announced, along with the Irish Van of the Year 2014. The judging panel consists of 28 judges who are members of the Irish Motoring Writers Association (IMWA), including myself. Throughout the year we test drive numerous new cars and evaluate them against their competitors and on their own merit. This year there were 51 cars eligible for the car of the year award, which were divided into five categories. After the first round of voting 16 finalists were chosen from the categories to go forward and be selected as Continental Irish Car of the Year 2014.
There will be awards presented for each category as well as the overall car of the year award. The three finalists for the Continental Irish Small Car of the Year 2014 are the Peugeot 2008, Renault Clio and Dacia Sandero. It was a close vote for me between the Peugeot and the Renault, both are very competent city cars, the Peugeot 2008 received my top vote in this category, followed by the Renault Clio.
Four cars from the Compact Family Car category made it into the final 16. These were the Citroen C4 Picasso, Toyota Auris, Toyota Corolla and the Volkswagen Golf. Both the Auris and Corolla impressed us earlier this year and will no doubt continue to sell well across the country. The Citroen C4 Picasso was the surprise car of the year for me, it’s competitively priced, full of modern technology and enjoyable to drive. The Volkswagen Golf has always been the benchmark for others to try and replicate, it represents style and quality with an excellent driving experience to match. It was between the C4 Picasso and Golf for my top two votes overall, after a lengthy debate I have voted the Volkswagen Golf as my number one with the Citroen C4 Picasso a worthy second.
Three cars from the Family Car category qualified into the final, the Kia Carens, Mazda6 and Skoda Octavia. The Mazda6 is a striking looking car with a responsive and satisfying drive. Skoda has proven its worth yet again with the introduction of the new Octavia, giving customers Volkswagen quality at a competitive price. My vote went to the Kia Carens which of the three impressed me the most. In a similar way to the Citroen C4 Picasso the Carens was somewhat of a surprise drive initially, I didn’t expect it to deliver a rewarding drive yet offer such high levels of practicality, all backed up with Kia’s renowned seven year warranty. The Korean car manufacturers are right up there now with their Japanese and European counterparts in terms of quality and driveability.
The Executive/Luxury Car category has just two finalists, the BMW 4-Series and Range Rover. I had voted the Range Rover Sport as my number one in this category but it failed to make the final selection which is a pity. The BMW 4-Series (3-Series Coupé successor) is an extremely polished car. We test drove both diesel and petrol variants this year, prior to their arrival to Ireland. In terms of luxury however, the Range Rover is pretty unbeatable, thanks to a hefty weight reduction of almost 500 kilograms it now handles corners with confidence and is more powerful and economical then ever. This combination of luxury and performance is why I gave it my vote.
Four cars from the Performance Car category went through to the final selection, the Ford Fiesta ST, Nissan Juke Nismo, Peugeot 208 GTI and the Volkswagen Golf GTI. The Golf GTI continues to rule the roost here and was my number one in this category, ahead of the Fiesta ST and 208 GTI.
All that’s left to be said is on behalf of myself and all at rev.ie we wish all the finalists the best of luck in today’s awards. Also to clarify, I voted my top three finalists for the Continental Irish Car of the Year 2014 as follows, Volkswagen Golf, Citroen C4 Picasso, Peugeot 2008.