The votes have been counted and the finalists for the 2014 World Car of the Year awards have been announced, with top-end vehicles, people movers, SUVs and affordable passenger cars all in the running for the title.
In their 10th year, the awards see 69 independent motoring journalists from 23 countries - including two from Australia - collectively choose 10 finalists in the categories of World Car of the Year, Luxury Car of the Year and Performance Car of the Year. The Car Design of the Year and Green Car of the Year categories are whittled down to five finalists by separate panels of design and environmental experts.
This year saw cars receive an equal number of votes, meaning there are 12 cars in the running.
In a sign of international car markets becoming increasingly similar, nearly all are or will be available in Australia.
WestWHEELS has been fortunate enough to sit behind the wheel of many of the finalists, most recently the stylish Audi A3, impressive Infiniti Q50, dapper Lexus IS, sure-to-be-popular Mazda3 and the surprisingly spacious Skoda Octavia.
BMW is the best represented company across all categories with four models making the cut - including two in the running for the major prize: the 4 Series and i3. The electric i3 is also the most nominated model after being voted into three categories: World Car of the Year, Green Car of the year and, somewhat surprisingly to many, for its car design.
This year is a rarity because Volkswagen has no chance of winning the top prize. The German giant has won top honours in four of the past five years, for the Golf (2009 and 2013), Up (2012) and Polo (2010).
It may fare well in other categories however, with the fuel-sipping, bonkers-looking XL1 attracting design and green car nominations and the outrageously fun Golf GTI in the performance car race.
In a clear sign the judges have a definite eye on value, the Golf GTI won't only be up against the expected squillion-dollar supercars; the $25,990 Ford Fiesta hot hatch sits between the more bedroom poster-worthy Ferrari 458 Speciale and Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 Roadster on the performance car finalist list.
The finalist list shows buyers of all budgets can get themselves into a great car, with the Mazda3, Octavia, and other possible winners in the Ford Mondeo and Peugeot 308 certainly not solely in the buying range of the wealthy.
That's not the case in the luxury bracket, with palatial vehicles such as the Bentley Flying Spur and Rolls Royce Wraith.
The fields for each award will be narrowed down to three at next month's Geneva Motor Show.
The winners will be announced at April's New York Motor Show.
WORLD CAR OF THE YEAR
BMW 4 Series
Citroen C4 Picasso
Bentley Flying Spur
Range Rover Sport
Alfa Romeo 4C
Audi RS 6 Avant
BMW M6 Gran Coupe
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Ferrari 458 Speciale
Ford Fiesta ST
Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 Roadster
Mercedes-Benz A/CLA45 AMG
Porsche 911 GT3
Porsche 911 Turbo
Volkswagen Golf GTI
Audi A3 Sportback e-tron
Honda Accord Hybrid
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Citroen C4 Picasso