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The ultimate award in the world of automobiles is for the ‘World Car of the Year’, a prize which every car manufacturer covets.

Recently, the nominees for the ‘World Car of the Year’ were announced, with cars ranging from the Audi A3 to the Volvo V40. The jurors will then re-evaluate each of the cars, in preparation for a final round of voting in the coming month.

They will then rate each vehicle in terms of different criteria: overall merit, value, safety, environmental responsibility, emotional appeal and, finally, significance.

After the vote results are tabulated, the top three finalists will be announced at the Geneva International Motor Show on March 5th this year.

Which car will emulate the success of the reigning champion: the Volkswagen Up!? We will take a look at the contenders and you can decide for yourself who you think will win the prestigious award.

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Audi A3

The Audi A3 will be hoping to receive the ‘World Car of the Year’ award at the Geneva Motor Show exactly one year after it was launched at the same event.

The third generation A3 will also be hoping to continue its success at award ceremonies, after receiving the ‘Car of the Year 2013’ award from What Car? magazine – as well as the ‘Small Family Car of the Year 2013’ by the same publication.

The Audi A3 is available in either a three door hatchback model or a five door ‘Sportback’ version. Both models feature a new entertainment system with handwriting recognition and adaptive cruise control.

Land Rover Range Rover

With incredible off-road ability, a comfortable ride and plenty of power behind the bonnet, the Land Rover Range Rover certainly sets the benchmark for supreme SUVs.

Land Rover’s flagship model is now its fourth generation, with sales still as strong as ever. The luxury 4×4 differs from previous Range Rover incarnations by utilising an all-aluminium monocoque body, which drastically reduces the vehicles weight.

As well as luxurious features and all-new lighter body-frame, the Range Rover is also known for its five-star safety and security features.

Standard models include seven airbags, electronic brakeforce distribution and stability control. In addition, laminate side glass is incorporated into the vehicle to bring extra safety, security and comfort benefits.

Mazda 6

Mazda’s new ‘6’ model is currently sold with Mazda’s award-winning SKYACTIV Technology. The engine is, according to Mazda, more fuel effective than its earlier comparable engines. SKYACTIVE engines are either petrol or diesel fuelled.

The large family car was originally the first example of Mazda’s new ‘Stylish, Insightful, and Spirited’ design philosophy, and the car really does do justice to the motto.

The car is not only visually exceptional, but it is also great to drive and has an excellent reliability record. The Mazda6 also managed to receive a Euro NCAP crash testing rating of five stars – the highest a vehicle can receive.

Mazda CX-5

The recipient of ‘Japan Car of the Year Award 2012-2013’, the Mazda CX-5 will be hoping to add to its collection with the ‘World Car of the Year’ crown in 2013.

The compact SUV is Mazda’s first car to feature the new ‘KODO – Soul of Motion’ design language. The head of Mazda’s Design Division, Ikuo Maeda, says that: ‘Mazda Design has focused on the strength, beauty and tension found in the instantaneous movement seen in animals.’

Maeda further added: ‘This motion is so full of vitality that it stirs the emotions of those who see it. We have named it ‘KODO – Soul of Motion’, and our aim is to express movement with forceful vitality and speed as the design theme for Mazda’s upcoming models.’

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

The Mercedes-Benz used to be a supermini until 2012, when Mercedes-Benz decided to slightly alter the design of the car so that it is now classed as a small family car.

The design of the new A-Class model is more dynamic and focused on young people, compared with its predecessor. The car is now designed to be a direct competitor to the popular BMW 1 Series and Audi A3 vehicles.

The A-Class models feature BlueEFFICIENCY engines, designed to make the car more energy efficient and full optimised for lowering emissions. The BlueEFFICIENCY technology manages to cut running costs without compromising on performance.

Peugeot 208

Attempting to rival the ever-popular Ford Fiesta models, Peugeot released a chic-styling, high quality supermini labelled the ‘208’.

With a low price and low running costs, the Peugeot 208 represents economical sense to buyers, especially those seeking a cost-effective motor.

The weight of the 208 has been reduced by 173kg when compared to its predecessor: the 207, as well as managing to offer more space. The boot of the 208 offers 285L of space, 15L more than its predecessor, as well as offering more leg room for rear passengers.

The safety kit on offer is also more than sufficient, with stability control being provided as standard, as well as front, side and curtain airbags.

Porsche Boxster/Cayman

You may be wondering why these two Peugeot models have been lumped together. The reason for that is because the Cayman is a coupe derived from Porsche’s second generation Boxster convertible.

Both cars feature exquisite looks and powerful engines, enough to make the duo win numerous awards, between them, such as ‘World Performance Car of the Year’ in 2006 and Automobile magazine’s ‘All Stars Award’ a total of nine times.

Both of these sporty-looking cars also feature in the ‘World Performance Car of the Year’ category and will be hoping to drive away from Geneva with at least one of the awards.

Subaru BRZ/Toyota GT86

Although these cars may not share a common name, they are, in fact, essentially the same car – as they are both derived from the Toyota 86 sports coupe.

The sleek-looking sports car features a refined, front-mounted boxer engine, rear-wheel drive layout and 2+2 seating. The Toyota GT86 was named as Jeremy Clarkson’s ‘Car of the Year’ for 2012 – he is from Top Gear for those who don’t know (or don’t care).

Both of the sisters models will be hoping to get one over on their main rivals: the aforementioned Porsche Boxster/Cayman as, they too, will be competing for both the ‘World Car of the Year’ and ‘World Performance Car of the Year’ awards this year.

Volkswagen Golf

One of the favourites for the crown this year is the ever-present and critically acclaimed Volkswagen Golf, currently in its impressive seventh generation.

The Volkswagen Golf Mk7 is slightly larger than the previous Mk6 model, whilst managing to weigh-in at around 100kg lighter. In addition, the new Golf features a roomier cabin, greater boot space and a number of new safety systems, when compared to its predecessor.

One of the new safety systems includes a multi-collision braking system, which forces the car to automatically brake after an accident, in order to avoid a second collision. Other safety features include adaptive cruise control, driver fatigue detection and an automatic parking system.

Volvo V40

The final nominee for the ‘World Car of the Year’ award, but by no means last place, is the Volvo V40 – a stylish small family car with a high-quality cabin and strong, smooth engines.

As well as coming equipped with the usual assortment of airbags and electronic driver aids, the V40 also features an updated version of Volvo’s ‘City Safety’ system, which applies the vehicle’s brakes automatically if you get too close to the car in front.

The Volvo V40 also features an interactive dashboard with three driving set-ups: ‘elegance’, ‘eco’ and ‘performance’, to suit your driving mood. LEDs are placed across the interior to gently light the cabin at night and add a sense of occasion to any journey.

Any of the nominated vehicles for the ‘World Car of the Year’ award would make a wise investment if leased for a business or company, or for personal use. It would be hard to be disappointed with a ‘World Car of the Year’ nominee.

This article was written by Glenn Doyle of LeasePlan Go. LeasePlan Go specialise in personal and business leasing, predominantly throughout the UK.