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Car of the Year 2011 shortlist

Hundreds of new and updated cars arrive in Australia each year but only one is good enough to make the honour role for Carsguide COTY.

This time around the prize fight is tougher than ever, with new arrivals for 2011 covering every size and price class, from the ordinary Chery J1 from China to the exotic Ferrari 458 Italia from Italy. Neither of them makes the COTY cut, but that's another story ...

The reach for COTY 2011 contenders actually stretches back to the final months of last year, to include a couple of cars that just missed the 2011 cutoff, and this time around the newcomers must have hit showrooms by December 1.

So, unfortunately, the all-new Toyota Camry is a non-starter. It's the same for the make-or-break four-cylinder Falcon.

But the class of 2011 covers all the bases, from affordable mini cars through family and prestige cars to a hot new coupe. The hopefuls come from Europe, Asia and Japan, as well as right home in Australia.

Setting the field for 2011 was not easy, particularly with the outgoing champion - the Volkswagen Polo - still casting a considerable shadow.

But each of the COTY judges, who cover the Carsguide contenders and drive them in all conditions from coast to coast, has called up their personal favourites from Alfa Romeo through to Volkswagen to help guide the selection process.

Then it is the final cull by the COTY veterans to produce the top 10 for a gruelling two-day shootout to consider everything from design and safety through to value and their driving ability on a wide range of roads from Ford's You Yangs proving ground to freeways, suburban streets and gravel roads on the outskirts of Melbourne.

The field is set, the race is about to be run, but we cannot get ahead of ourselves.

So here are the 10 COTY contenders ... now it's over to the judges:

BMW 1 Series
Ford Focus
Ford Territory diesel
Holden Cruze
Hyundai i40 Tourer
Kia Rio
Nissan Micra
Range Rover Evoque
Volkswagen Scirocco
Volvo S60 T4.