The finalists for the 2014 World Car of the Year Award have been unveiled, with a dozen of the planet’s most popular and desirable vehicles in contention to take home the grand prize.

Unlike many car awards, the WCOTY has no affiliation with any publication, auto show, car manufacturer or other commercial enterprise and is administered by a non-profit corporation, under the guidance of a steering committee of automotive journalists from Asia, Europe, and North America.

It is designed to highlight the all-round best car on the market for that 12-month period, and as such relies on input and assessment by 69 leading figures in the field of automotive journalism, who are responsible for drawing up a longlist, shortlist and field of finalists, before choosing the overall winner.

Since the first award was presented in 2005, a number of well-known vehicles have received the accolade and benefited from a boost in popularity and sales, ensuring each year’s contest is keenly fought, with 2014 being no exception.

This year, the usual list of 10 finalists has had to be expanded due to the jurors being unable to choose between longlisted candidates, and so for the first time ever 12 cars will go head-to-head for the grand prize.

The winner will follow in the footsteps of 2013 champion the Volkswagen Golf, as well as its predecessors the Volkswagen Up! (2012), Nissan LEAF (2011), Volkswagen Polo (2010), Volkswagen Golf (2009), Mazda2/Mazda Demio (2008), Lexus LS460 (2007), BMW 3-Series (2006), and Audi A6 (2005).

Despite dominating the award in recent years, Volkswagen will not be adding to its haul, as none of the manufacturer’s models have made the shortlist this year, though Germany still has a strong presence in the shape of the Audi A3 and two entries from BMW – the 4-Series and the i3.

Between them, manufacturers from Germany and Japan have won all nine World Car of the Year Awards, and the Asian nation is well in contention once again in 2014, with the Infiniti Q50, Lexus IS and Mazda3 all making the final.

The US also has three entries in the list, in the shape of the Cadillac CTS, the Ford Fusion/Mondeo and the Jeep Cherokee, while France is hoping for an inaugural victory with its duo of the Citroen C4 Picasso and the Peugeot 308.

The finalists are rounded off by the Skoda Octavia, which is one of the most popular cars on the list, in terms of sales, and is flying the sole flag for the Czech Republic.

Each of the finalists will now be subject to further intense scrutiny from the jurors, with a second round of voting taking into account test drives, specification assessments and all-round performance, before three final candidates are unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show on March 4th.

The overall winner of the 2014 World Car of the Year Award will then be announced at the New York International Auto Show on April 17th, where the winners of the World Luxury Car, World Performance Car, World Green Car and World Car Design of the Year gongs will also be revealed.

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