Vauxhall Astra COTY 2016The Vauxhall Astra has won the 2016 European Car of the Year prize, in a closely-fought battle with the Volvo XC90.

Mazda’s MX-5 was third, following strong scoring from British COTY judges that helped it pip the Audi A4.

Revealed on the eve of the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, the Car of the Year Awards were presented in an exciting Eurovision-style presentation, where all nations’ points were revealed and totted up.

It soon became clear the two front-runners were the Vauxhall Astra and Volvo XC90.

The two were neck-and-neck before the Astra drew out a small lead – before the Swedish scores were revealed: naturally, they awarded the home brand strong scores, that narrowed the Astra’s lead once again.

In the presentation, it was down to Great Britain to cast the vote – and thanks to the UK awarding strong scores to the Mazda MX-5, but still scoring the Brit-built Astra reasonably highly, Vauxhall emerged ahead as the 2016 Car of the Year winner.

Of course, the scores were all cast at the same time and so it wasn’t really down to one nation to make the call: even so, the Astra’s overall points score of 309 saw it take an unquestionable victory ahead of the Volvo XC90 on 294 points and the Mazda MX-5 on 204 points.

Motoring Research reviews the new Vauxhall Astra

The Astra beat a long list of 35 Car of the Year Contenders, of which a shortlist of seven did battle for the overall trophy (which itself was new for 2016).

Judged by 58 jurors, Car of the Year prides itself on its transparency – all scores by each juror are available on the organisation’s website, for example.

The victory was also a genuine surprise to Vauxhall in the UK: the first they heard of the result was when Motoring Research’s Andrew Brady showed them Richard Aucock’s tweet from the Geneva show hall…

2016 Car of the Year – final scores

1: Vauxhall Astra – 309 points

2: Volvo XC90 – 294 points

3: Mazda MX-5 – 202 points

4: Audi A4 – 189 points

5: Jaguar XE – 163 points

6: Skoda Superb – 147 points

7: BMW 7 Series – 143 points