The Chevrolet Volt, Aston Martin Rapide and Ferrari 458 Italia all won awards, but it was the Nissan Leaf that took overall honours.
At the 2011 World Car of the Year (WCOTY) awards ceremony in New York today, the petrol-electric Chevrolet Volt (Vauxhall Ampera in the UK, where it may be built) was crowned World Green Car. The 60-plus jurors scattered across the planet declared it a leaner, greener and more desirable machine than the cheaper diesel BMW 320d EfficientDynamics Edition and the electric Nissan Leaf, which is limited by its official maximum range of 109 miles.
The World Car Design crown went to the Aston Martin Rapide, penned by Britain's top vehicle designer, Marek Reichman. From his comparatively small and modest studio in Warwickshire his elegant "family supercar" beat no fewer than 50 designs from bigger, wealthier, better-equipped, more famous studios stretching from Turin to Tokyo, via LA.
Ferrari will be devastated to learn that the Rapide is officially better designed than its almost as gorgeous 458 Italia, but the Italian firm did manage to shake-off the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG and the Porsche 911 Turbo to secure the World Performance Car crown.
Nissan's disappointment at losing out to the Volt/Ampera in the Green Car category was softened when its all-electric Japanese-built Leaf got the nod over the Audi A8 and BMW 5-series to be declared World Car of the Year.
On the grounds that it is, by some margin, the least expensive model in the competition and truly a car of the times, I really believed Audi's A1 should have won. But I am only one of 60-odd judges from all corners of the globe and collectively they - we - decided that it shouldn't even collect a WCOTY runners-up prize, never mind a class or overall victory. That's automotive democracy for you.