A panel of 58 members, representing 22 European countries, reverted to conservatism by crowning the Volkswagen Passat B8 as the the 2015 Car of the Year. The victory for what must be the most sensible car in a shortlist which boasted some interesting metal, was met with resounding shrugs outside of the industry (and in it too, if you whisper it).
The new Passat is crushingly competent, and will no doubt have bags of aspirational middle-management appeal, but what it lacks, and lacks in bucketloads is charisma or any form of innovation. Autocar magazine concluded, ‘It’s just a shame that Volkswagen hasn’t injected a little more flair into the Passat’s dynamics; a glimmer of enjoyment to make the odd corner on the way home something to look forward to. If that matters to you, the new Ford Mondeo could well be better suited to your needs, and it’s also more refined.’
The Passat scored 340 points, and beat an interesting line-up in the short list. These included the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer (154 points), Citroën C4 Cactus (248), Ford Mondeo (203), Mercedes-Benz C-Class (221), Nissan Qashqai (160) and Renault Twingo (124). For those who value innovation, and look to the cream of past winners, it’s a disappointing victor. And that leaves it a resounding points winner.
Where does it leave the Passat in the pantheon of past CoTY winners? The most interesting past winners include such lovelies as the Rover P6 and SD1, Renault 16, NSU Ro80, BMC 1800 Landcrab, Porsche 928 and Citroen CX and XM. It certainly doesn’t deserve to sit with these luminaries (even if it’ll be far more commercially successful), but equally it’s no Talbot Horizon, Renault 9 or Fiat Brava/Bravo.
It’s probably the modern CoTY winning equivalent of the Audi 80 or Vauxhall Carlton. Good, but not great…
Shame they didn’t think out of the box and go for the Cactus. Next time, maybe.