For the first time in 22 years, a General Motors vehicle has been voted ‘Car of the Year’ (COTY) in Europe. The brand-new Opel insignia gathered a total of 321 points beating the second Ford Fiesta by the narrowest possible margin – a solitary point.

The Insignia is the third Opel / Vauxhall model to be awarded with the COTY after the Kadett (Vauxhall Astra in the UK) scooped the award in 1985 with the Omega (Vauxhall Carlton) following in 1987. The COTY jury, which is made up of 59 senior motoring journalists from 23 European countries gave the VW Golf VI a total of 223 points placing it third of the contest’s seven finalists.

“This is the closest COTY competition for years,” comments Ray Hutton, president of the 59-strong jury of senior motoring journalists. “Car of the Year has often been decided narrowly, but it is eight years since another Ford, the Mondeo, was beaten by a single point by Alfa Romeo’s 147.” To underscore the closeness of the 46-year-old competition, the Vauxhall/Opel Insignia received most votes from 20 of the international jurors, while the Fiesta was placed first by 19 of them.

Points allotted by journalists to the other COTY finalists were Citroen C5 198, Alfa Romeo MiTo 148, Skoda Superb 144 and Renault Megane 121 points.

For the record, the competition’s first stage was in October, when jurors chose seven finalists from a total of 37 contenders. In order to be eligible for COTY, a car must be launched within the past 12 months and has to be available in at least five European countries – which is why the Toyota iQ didn’t take part in this year’s competition as European sales start in January 2009.

Source – Carscoop