Volkswagen’s Passat wins Car of the Year 2015!

Volkswagen’s Passat is the 2015 Car of the Year. A jury of 58 motoring journalists from 22 countries anointed the VW top dog from a seven-strong shortlist, which also included the BMW 2-series Active Tourer, Citroën C4 Cactus, Ford Mondeo, Mercedes C-class, Nissan Qashqai and Renault Twingo.

Each juror has 25 points to split among the shortlisted seven, with the Passat racking up 340 points in total. That was almost 100 points clear of the second-placed Citroën C4 Cactus which landed 248 points, while the Mercedes C-class came in third with 221 points.

CAR has two jurors on the shortlist, Phil McNamara and Georg Kacher, who both nominated the C4 Cactus as their favourite, giving it six points. But the Car of the Year approach, asking jurors to spread 25 points among the contenders rather than just pick one outright winner, means a consistently scoring car with broad international appeal tends to come through the pack to gain victory.

How the editor of CAR voted

McNamara gave the Passat four points – the same as the Mondeo. Part of his verdict read: ‘Buyers have shifted from saloons to crossovers, but the new Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat attempt to fight back. The Mondeo is the most fun dynamically: drive it hard on our demanding test routes, and its body control, ride quality and responsive controls are exceptional. It’s a very refined motorway car, and the punchy 1.5-litre Ecoboost is great, but the drab, cheap-feeling cockpit is a real letdown.

‘The Passat reeks of quality engineering throughout: it’s a little lighter than the Mondeo, its cabin feels very special, and its sophisticated technology delivers for the consumer: self-driving in traffic jams, automated piloting if the driver is incapacitated, forthcoming active binnacle, and world first trailer assist. If you could combine the Passat’s quality and tech with the Mondeo’s chassis, you’d have an ideal (if trad) car to stem the crossover exodus.

‘But my winner is the Citroën C4 Cactus. It eschews the complex tech of its peers, making a virtue of simplicity to minimise weight and cost, for the consumer’s benefit. So mpg and CO2 figures are impressive. It’s compact but has decent cabin space. The exterior design is handsome, and the interior design peppered with delightful touches, from the asymmetric vents to the cloth grab handles to the gearbox lever.

‘Citroëns often flop in our dynamic assessments, but the controls, peppy 1.2-litre triple, ride and steering are a step forward for the brand. The good value Citroën is brimming with feelgood factor, and it’s my Car of the Year.’

Volkswagen’s strong record in Car of the Year

But that’s one person’s opinion: 57 other voters ensured the Volkswagen won by a comfortable margin. The Passat’s victory means Volkswagen’s three core current models, the Polo in 2010 and the Golf in 2013, have all won Car of the Year.

The award has a long heritage: it dates back to 1964, when the Rover 2000 scooped the first win. ‘It’s the most prestigious award in the automotive industry,’ said CotY president Hakan Matson. ‘Our voting is totally transparent: all the points and the jurors’ verdicts are published on our website.’


Samsung rapidly-growing in Europe, closing in on Apple !

The UK continues to be Apple’s European fortress against the invading hordes of Android smartphones. That’s the word from Internet firm comScore, which announced Monday most European cell phone owners have adopted smartphones. In the United Kingdom, Apple is holding onto a slim 4 point-lead.

Meanwhile, South Korea-based Samsung experiences double-digit growth. Germany is the only European nation where smartphone penetration has not reached at least 50 percent. In the UK and Spain, two countries where consumers have largely abandoned landlines, smartphone adoption is at 62.3 percent and 63.2 percent, respectively.

But the real story could be the tight race between Apple and Samsung, fueled by Android’s growing presence in Europe…

As the above chart shows, Apple as of October was at 28 percent of the UK market, a 1.5 percent increase over the same period in 2011. Samsung was close behind at 24 percent of the market, a 12.8 percent increase over 2011, according to comScore.

RIM and HTC hover in the 2.5-2.7 percent range, while Nokia slips under the ten percent mark.

Are these numbers worrisome for Apple?


But as TechCrunch notes, the October figures do not capture any growth from the holiday period, expected to be strong for the iPhone maker.

When it comes to the battle between iOS and Android, the Google smartphone operating system currently has the upper hand.

According to comScore, Android has 46.6 percent of the UK smartphone market, while Apple is #2 with 28 percent. However, like the handset chart, the growth of Android is at a double-digit 12.4 percent while Apple maintains 1.5 percent growth.

Increasingly, the smartphone race is becoming a two-company field: Apple and Samsung. Symbian saw the largest drop in usage – 10.8 percent – while Microsoft saw a microscopic 0.5 percent increase to 3.1 percent of UK users above the age of 13.

While comScore’s MobiLens survey measures smartphone usage, the recent Kantar Worldpanel covered smartphone sales. The firm announced Android had more than 60 percent of smartphones purchased.