Starting with 49 new models released from late 2012, the contenders for the 2013 Wheels Car Of The Year eligibility list was whittled down car by car, until an 'eligible' list of 34 remained. From there, pencils were sharpened further, culling the contenders to reveal the 15 most impressive new models on offer. Here, then, are your Wheels Car Of The Year contenders.
Audi A3 Sportback: The A3 combines a stunning cabin and class-best quality with a sporty feel, while offering several drivetrains unique to its skill set.
Fiat Panda: Fiat’s lovable Panda is a compelling package, especially with its award-winning ‘Twin Air’ turbocharged two-pot.
Ford Kuga: The Kuga is the dynamic benchmark for soft-roaders, as well as being an effective, roomy family wagon.
Holden Commodore VF: Inviting the VF along provided the year’s most contentious debate. In the end, we decided its completely different feel and mostly new or modified internals were enough to gain entry.
Holden Trax: While the Trax may lack mechanical innovation, it makes up for it with packaging excellence and value-for-money.
Honda CR-V: The fourth-generation CR-V is cleverly packaged to be smaller outside yet larger inside, and should keep the Kuga honest.
Jaguar F-Type: For visceral grand-touring ability and explosive straight-line punch, few cars can match the supercharged Jag.
Lexus IS: Lexus’s third-generation IS sedan is headlined by the excellent four-cylinder IS300h hybrid and BMW-beating IS350 F-Sport.
Mazda 6: Available in Euro-sized wagon or US-sized sedan, with petrol and diesel options, the 6 will present a brilliant counterpoint to Holden’s VF Commodore.
Mercedes-Benz A-class: It’s not a futuristic technology-ticker like the old sandwich-floored car, but the new A does offer much in the way of drivetrain excellence, dynamic competence and interesting design.
Peugeot 2008: Peugeot’s 2008 offers an airy, SUV-like view, is light and offers a brilliant new petrol three-pot engine with brilliant dynamics.
Porsche Cayman: The latest Cayman is so talented, people are starting to wonder whether the legendary 911 is really worth the price premium.
Range Rover: Few cars in any category are as exquisite as the new Rangie, yet this is a luxury land yacht that has trimmed its waistline by 400kg while remaining peerless off road.
Renault Clio : Not only is the Clio IV fresh, innovative, stylish and fun, it brings with it a big slice of sophistication and completely new turbo-petrol drivetrains.
Volkswagen Golf: From the base model stunner to the brilliant GTI, the latest MkVII Golf has impressed in comparison testing throughout 2013.