Mesdames et Messieurs, Your 7 European Car of the Year Finalists For 2014

It's been fifty years since the Rover 2000 won the very first European Car of the Year award and much has changed since 1964, besides Rover having gone extinct.

This year's winner will be announced at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show having been selected from 7 finalists by a jury of 7 representatives from 7 publications written in 7 different languages from 7 different European nations.  

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer

Previewed in 2012 by the plug-in hybrid BMW Concept Active Tourer, the BMW 2 Series is a family of 5-door compact MPVs (multi-purpose vehicles) that have the honor of being BMW's first front-engine & front-wheel-drive vehicles. Power is provided by gas- or diesel-fueled, turbocharged, inline 1.5-litre 3-cylinder and 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engines. They could be the closest thing yet to a “cool minivan”.

Citroën C4 Cactus

Citroën has earned a reputation for making and marketing odd-looking automobiles and the C4 Cactus carries on that bold tradition. This 5-door crossover hatchback features unique “airbump” panels on its doors designed to absorb impacts from other cars' doors when parked in busy lots. The panels are anything but inconspicuous – they're even available in contrasting colors.  

Ford Mondeo

Known as the Ford Fusion in North America, the Mondeo is one of only two European Car of the Year finalists available for purchase in the USA – the Mercedes-Benz C-Class is the other. Built at Ford of Europe's plant in Valencia, Spain, the front-engine, front-wheel-drive Mondeo is into its fourth generation in Europe where it's considered to be a large family car. 

Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Designated W205 in MB's internal nomenclature, the fourth-generation C-Class made its debut at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. Among the more notable improvements featured in the new C-Class is extensive use of aluminum resulting in an average weight savings of roughly 220 lbs per vehicle. Mercedes-Benz would dearly love to capture this year's 50th anniversary award, given the Mercedes 600 came in second to the Rover 2000 back in 1964. 

Nissan Qashqai

Say what now? Nissan's compact 5-door crossover (the only Japanese brand to crack the Top 7, by the way) is closely related to the somewhat larger Nissan Rogue sold in the USA and Canada. Curiously, Mexican buyers will soon be able to purchase both the Rogue AND the new Qashqai. Sorry envious North Americans, your dreams of an off-road special edition “Sas-Qashqai” are doomed to remain but a fantasy.

Renault Twingo

Made by French automaker Renault (nope, not Hostess), the new third-generation Twingo is a rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive city car manufactured in Novo Mesto, Slovenia. The peppy Twingo is anything but slovenly, however (see what we did there?) being powered by one of two 3-cylinder petrol engines: a 0.9-litre turbocharged unit or a 1-litre atmospheric.

Volkswagen Passat

The Volkswagen Passat has been around for a long time, having debuted way back in 1973. The new B8 (in VW-speak) is light years ahead of the original, though, offering buyers 4- or 5-door configurations and power options ranging up to a 2.0TFSI engine rated at 280 horsepower. Don't confuse the Euro-Passat with the version manufactured at VW's Chattanooga Assembly Plant – the North America-only model known as the Passat NMS (New Midsize Sedan) was introduced in 2011 and went on to win Motor Trend's Car of the Year award in 2012. Separate but equal? VW sure hopes so! (all 2014 European Car of the Year images via Autoblog, at top via