Yours truly picked three of the seven cars that made it onto the Car of the Year 2023 shortlist. From a long list of 27, the 58 jurors (of which Autocar gets a space as one, being a sponsor of the organisation) each got to nominate seven cars in no particular order and the seven with the most votes made it onto the shortlist.
The full reveal will take place at the Brussels motor show in January, after a final round of testing on the eve of the show. The six-strong contingent of UK jurors, among them Vicky Parrott, Andrew Frankel and Andrew English who you’ll know well from these pages, will also get to test the cars at Silverstone just ahead of official proceedings in Belgium, to see if the contenders can do it on a cold, wet winter’s day in January.
The ones that matched my list were the Jeep Avenger, Volkswagen ID Buzz and Kia Niro. I also voted for the BMW i7, MG 4, Range Rover Sport and Dacia Jogger. The ones that made the final shortlist that weren’t on mine were the Peugeot 408, Renault Austral, Toyota BZ4X/Subaru Solterra, and Nissan Ariya.
On the proviso you can’t vote for what you haven’t yet driven, that ruled me out of the 408 at this stage for shortlisting purposes. Yet it’s a car that intrigues in its size, style and positioning and I am keen to try.
Parts of the Ariya I really liked, others less so. It didn’t ride well enough for me, nor quite felt as refined and sophisticated as it should. That said, I really liked the interior and the distinctive style. My drive was of a left-hooker on the continent, so fresh eyes await a now right-hand drive model in the UK.
Matt Prior’s excellent summary of the BZ4X was ringing in my ears when I drove it (and the co-developed, but pretty much the same Solterra): fine. It’s a word not used enough in life these days, with the middle ground seen as one you can’t occupy as everything must be love/hate or polarising.
As ever, Matt is right: the BZ4X is fine. It’s easy to drive, inoffensive to use, and does the job it set out to do. It doesn’t excite, nor really move the game on, but If you’re one of the millions of Toyota customers who will take their first electric steps in one of the brand’s cars then it’s about as un-anxiety-inducing a car as you could imagine.