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Nissan Leaf Clinches WCOTY Award, 458 Takes Performance Crown Photo:
2011 Nissan Leaf - Australian Pilot Program Photo:
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Mike Stevens | Apr, 28 2011 | 1 Comment

When the Nissan Leaf arrives in Australia next year, it will likely be with some fanfare: this week, the electric hatch was named World Car of the Year.

It was no easy win, however. With the votes of all 66 international jurors tallied, the Leaf finished on 733.4 points, edging out the BMW 5 Series with 730.0 points - a nailbiter by any measure.

In third place was the new Audi A8 with 709.0 points, followed by the Audi A1, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG and the Volvo S60 (and V60 wagon).

Outlasting 39 rivals in the contest, the Leaf is the seventh WCotY winner, and the first electric vehicle to take top spot in the awards - but it is unlikely to be the last.

"This is the way of the future. With the price of petrol skyrocketing, more and more people are going to be looking at cars like the Leaf and Volt," WCotY co-chairman, Peter Lyon said.

"The awards reflect the way that motoring is heading. But it's also good to see there is still space for performance and passion, thanks to Ferrari and Aston."

Due in Australia in 2012, the five-seat Tiida-sized Leaf is powered by an electric motor generating 80kW and 280Nm of torque, with a lithium-ion battery pack offering a driving range of around 160km per charge.


World Performance Car of the Year: Ferrari 458 Italia

While it was all green in the overall awards, the World Performance Car of the Year title remains the domain of high-powered petrol beasts. This year, Ferrari's 458 Italia took the win.

Voted by 66 jurors from 24 countries, the 458 Italia was the pick of the 14 eligible cars. Other cars on the list included the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG and the Porsche 911 Turbo.

"Already a classic in every sense, its sophisticated handling abilities at the limit take the V8 middle-rear engine Ferrari concept to a whole new level," the World Performance Car of the Year announcement reads.

Motivated by a 4.5 litre V8 developing 425kW and 540Nm of torque, Ferrari says the F458 will power its way to 100km/h in just 3.4 seconds, on to a top speed of over 325km/h.

Other winners at the awards include the Chevrolet Volt, which beat out the Nissan Leaf and the BMW 320d EfficientDynamics Edition.

Aston Martin's Rapide super-saloon took out the World Car Design Award, besting the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and the Ferrari 458 Italia.

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