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2010 World Car of the Year shortlists

The Chevrolet Camaro might be built and sold in the USA, but it was designed, developed, tested and approved down under as a spin-off from the VE Commodore. It is named this week among the 31 finalists for the World COTY (see gallery above for full shortlist), and will be judged by a global panel of 60 motoring journalists before the winner is named at the New York Auto Show in April next year.

The finalists carry badges from Audi to Toyota and are as diverse as the latest green-power Honda Insight and Toyota Prius to the super luxury Porsche Panamera.

"The list came from the manufacturers, who sent us their eligible cars for the year. There may be one or two more yet, because a couple of companies might have some extra models before the end of the year," says WCOTY co-chairman, Peter Lyon. "For example, there is the Mercedes SLS Gullwing. We don't know yet when it will go on sale."

Apart from the World COTY contest, the same judging panel also decides the World Performance Car of the Year (see gallery), World Green Car of the Year and World Car Design of the year.

So far there are 18 potential winners in the performance category, from the Aston Martin V12 Vantage to the Renault Clio 3 Renault Sport. Judging on all fronts now advances to the semi-finals, three cars in each case, which will be named at the Geneva Motor Show at the start of March. Then it is over to the judges to drive, assess and vote.

"This year we have 60 judges altogether. We've capped at that number, after adding a couple of new judges this year," says Lyon. "Originally we had about 44 judges. But 60 is the basic number of the North American, European and Japanese COTY awards and that seemed like the right number."

"We've got judges now for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. We've basically covered 25 or 26 countries, from Australia to Russia and everywhere between."

Lyon says the basics of the award have not changed for the sixth judging and he makes no apologies for the list of contenders. "The German and Japanese cars are romping it in again. It's basically a reflection of the quality of car manufacturing today. The Japanese and Germans are making the best cars in the world, full stop," he says.

"But we think, of all the Car of the Year awards, this is the most natural. There is no pressure on any of the judges. They just vote for the best cars as they see them in their countries."