The "Car of the Year" is an international award, judged by a panel of 58 top motoring journalists from 22 European countries. Its objective is to acclaim the most outstanding new car to go on sale in the 12 months preceding the date of the title. It is organised by a group of seven leading European publications: Auto ( Italy), Autocar ( Great Britain), Autopista ( Spain), Auto Visie ( Holland), L'Automobile Magazine (France), Stern ( Germany), and Vi Bilagare ( Sweden).
The Ford S-MAX was declared the winner following a closely fought competition in which 41 contenders for the award were reduced to a shortlist of just eight -- the CitroŽn C4 Picasso, Fiat Grande Punto, Ford S-MAX, Honda Civic, Opel/Vauxhall Corsa, Peugeot 207, Skoda Roomster and Volvo C30.
"We are absolutely delighted that this all-new model in the Ford range has secured the ultimate accolade as 'Car of the Year,' especially against such worthy competitors and in a year that has seen a record number of eligible contenders," said John Fleming, president and CEO, Ford of Europe.
"Since we launched S-MAX earlier this year, we have been amazed at the reaction to the car, both from the opinion forming media as well as our customers. This award confirms what we dared to believe -- that Ford S-MAX is different, and creates a new vehicle segment in which elements of a sports car and a multi-activity vehicle combine together to deliver a dynamic and stylish family vehicle that you really want to own," Fleming added.
Commenting on the award, Ray Hutton, the president of the 'Car of the Year' jury said: "This was a very close contest with all eight of the finalists deserving a place on the shortlist. It is clear from the voting that the Jury is impressed by the concept of the Ford S-MAX: a spacious and versatile car that drives like a sports saloon. Its victory is well-deserved."
Since its launch in April 2006, over half of the S-MAX vehicles built have been delivered to customers who are new to Ford, according to market research. The most popular S-MAX is the "Titanium," with more than 50 percent of customers ordering this top-of-range model.
"We are delighted with the response to S-MAX, and this award will strengthen the model's appeal," said Stephen Odell, vice president, Marketing, Sales and Service, Ford of Europe. "The fact that S-MAX is attracting new customers to us demonstrates the renewed appeal of the Ford brand in delivering great -looking, well-engineered cars and driving enjoyment without compromises."
As well as being a new model in the Ford of Europe portfolio, the new S-MAX is the first Ford production model to introduce elements of 'kinetic design' and a range of exciting new driver-focused technologies to Ford customers.
New active safety technologies targeted at providing high levels of control and accident avoidance include Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Alert, Collision Mitigation by Braking and a new Interactive Vehicle Dynamics active suspension system with continuously controlled damping.
Ford S-MAX has also achieved a class-leading five star rating for adult occupant protection under the Euro NCAP crash test protocol. Together with the new Galaxy and the Focus, Ford now offers three vehicles that achieved a maximum 5-star rating in Euro NCAP. With 2 stars and 13 points, Ford S-MAX also achieved a competitive result for pedestrian protection
S-MAX is one of the first production Ford models to feature a Human Machine Interface (HMI) system, which provides drivers with comprehensive information through a series of configurable menus. Easy to control toggle switches on the steering wheel allow the driver to review key data including in-car entertainment and navigation systems.
It is also the first production Ford vehicle to feature elements of Ford's "kinetic design" language. Sporty styling expresses energy in motion, emphasizing Ford's dynamic driving capabilities in a more overt way.
"We are very excited about the reaction to our 'kinetic design' form language," said Martin Smith, Ford of Europe's Executive Director of Design. "The 'Car of the Year' award for S-MAX proves we're on the right track with our invitation to customers to 'Feel the Difference' and our commitment to broaden the appeal of Ford's future European vehicles beyond the rational and into the emotional."
The 2007 award for Ford S-MAX marks Ford of Europe's fifth 'Car of the Year' win, with the original Ford Focus last collecting the award in 1999. The Ford Focus set new standards in its class, and won by one of the biggest margins in the award's 44-year history. Ford also won the title in 1993 with the first generation Ford Mondeo, in 1985 with the Ford Scorpio, and in 1981 with the Ford Escort.
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