New York Auto Show: Are These Really The Best Cars In The World?

International jury names the top cars worldwide released in 2010

Are these the best cars of the year--worldwide?

The Nissan Leaf? The Chevrolet Volt? And the Aston Martin Rapide? The Ferrari 458 Italia?

A body of 66 automotive journalists from 24 countries votes every year on cars released during the calendar year, grading them on design, performance and other criteria. The award program is similar to the North American Car of the Year award, which is handed out in during January's North American International Auto Show in Detroit, except the potential winners in this contest are cars that are marketers globally.

This year's World Car of the Year award was given to the Nissan Leaf, the first all-electric car to be sold globally by a major automaker.

The Nissan Leaf was chosen from an initial entry list of thirty-nine (39) new vehicles from all over the world, then a short list of ten, then three finalists: the Nissan Leaf, the Audi A8 and the BMW 5 Series.

"It is a great joy that the world's first, mass-marketed electric vehicle, the Nissan LEAF, has won the prestigious award of 2011 World Car of the Year," said Nissan Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn. "This accolade recognizes Nissan LEAF, a pioneer in zero-emission mobility, as comparable in its driving performance, quietness and superb handling to gas-powered cars. And it validates Nissan's clear vision and the values of sustainable mobility that we want to offer to customers around the world."

The Ferrari 458 Italia was chosen 2011 World Performance Car of the Year from an initial entry list of fourteen (14) new cars from all over the world, then a short list of ten, then three finalists: the Ferrari 458 Italia, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, and the Porsche 911 Turbo.

"Our goal in engineering the 458 Italia was to match the technology and extreme performance developed for our racing activities with the demands of our drivers, who wish to enjoy their cars on the road and experience the unique emotions that only a Ferrari can provide" said Marco Mattiacci, President and CEO, Ferrari North America. "Today's award as 2011 World Performance Car makes us very proud and confident that we achieved our goals" concluded Mattiacci.

The Aston Martin Rapide was named 2011 World Car Design of the Year. Aston Martin's Director of Design Marek Reichman, who led the in-house design team that penned the Rapide said: "Like a race horse standing still, you can see its power and elegance, the shape of Rapide's rear haunches are muscular conveying the power that lies beneath while its low stance produces a powerful look.

"There is a real sense of proportion with this car, akin to a tailored suit; the new double grill gives more presence on the road while the iconic signature side strake has been lengthened through to the rear doors to enhance its lateral proportions in a subtle, yet elegant way. The car's purity makes it look right from every angle."

The 2011 Chevrolet Volt was named 2011 World Green Car of the Year.

The Chevrolet Volt was chosen from an initial entry list of twelve (12) new vehicles from all over the world, then a short list of ten, then three finalists: the Chevrolet Volt, the BMW 320d EfficientDynamics Edition and the Nissan Leaf.

The Volt is the first mass-marketed extended range electric vehicle. It can go up to 40 miles on a battery charge. When the battery runs down, a gas engine kicks in to power the battery until it can be recharged.

"The selection of the Volt as the World Green Car is a further proof point of the fuel efficient technologies that are now being offered by the Chevrolet brand around the world," said Rick Schiedt, Vice President of Chevrolet Marketing. "This award, and the others that have preceded it, validate the efforts of the development team to build a truly remarkable vehicle with the potential to transform transportation around the globe."

To read detailed Autoblog reviews, click to these links:

First Drive: Nissan Leaf

Review: Aston-Martin Rapide

Review: Chevrolet Volt

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