Insignia is Car of The Year 2009 image

The Insignia, the all-new family car from Vauxhall/Opel, has been voted 2009 Car of the Year – by the narrowest possible margin. The Insignia polled an impressive 321 votes to beat this year’s other favoured contender, the Ford Fiesta, by a solitary point. The Volkwsagen Golf, on 223 points, was third.

“This is the closest COTY competition for years,” comments Ray Hutton, president of the 59-strong jury of senior motoring journalists drawn from 23 European countries. “Car of the Year has often been decided narrowly, but it is eight years since another Ford, the Mondeo, was beaten by a single point by Alfa Romeo’s 147.”

To underscore the closeness of the 46-year-old competition, the Vauxhall/Opel Insignia received most votes from 20 of the international jurors, while the Fiesta was placed first by 19 of them.

“We are delighted to be able to deliver good news at such a tough time,” says Steve Cropley, editor-in-chief of Autocar, COTY’s British-based sponsoring magazine, “The market’s the toughest we’ve seen for 20 years, but nothing alters the fact that the Insignia is a great car. However, this result is undoubtedly something of an upset. The Ford Fiesta seemed to many a winning contender. But in the end, the Insignia deserved to triumph and it did.”

Points allotted to the other COTY finalists were VW Golf 223, Citroen C5 198, Alfa Romeo MiTo 148, Skoda Superb 144 and Renault Megane 121. The competition’s first stage was in October, when jurors chose seven finalists from a field of 37 contenders. To be eligible for COTY, a car must be launched within the past 12 months and must be available in at least five European countries.

The COTY jury is made up of 59 senior motoring journalists from 23 countries. Their objective is to choose the most outstanding new car to go on sale in the past 12 months. Jurors vote twice: first to select a short-list of seven from the new cars launched in Europe, then again to choose the winner.

Autocar is one of seven leading publications from around Europe which organise the COTY contest. Each publication takes it in turn to organise the vote, publicise and promote the contest and hold the prize-giving ceremony.

The jury is completely independent of the Organising Committee in matters connected with the award itself, the selection of eligible cars and the voting.