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by David Zalstein

The Volkswagen Up! is the 2012 World Car of the Year.

The Volkswagen Up! city car was awarded the title at the New York motor show, coming out ahead of 33 other contenders including the BMW 3-Series and Porsche 911.

The award is based on the votes of 66 top automotive journalists from 25 countries and recognises the year’s most outstanding vehicle across a range of criteria including performance, value, safety, environmental impact, significance, and emotional appeal.

While the 1.0-litre three-cylinder Volkswagen Up! was launched in Europe in December 2011, the three- and five-door models won’t arrive in Australia until the end of 2012. Volkswagen’s smallest hatchback will be priced below the current entry-level Polo, with an estimated starting price of around $15,000.

Overseas, the Up! is offered with a base 44kW/95Nm petrol engine and a more powerful 55kW/95Nm option – the latter being the most likely for our market. Volkswagen quotes fuel consumption of approximately 4.2 litres per 100km when combined with the vehicle’s start-stop technology.

In its eighth year, the World Car Awards also declared the Porsche 911 Performance Car of the Year, the Range Rover Evoque World Car Design of the Year and Mercedes-Benz S250 CDI Blue Efficiency World Green Car of the Year.

Volkswagen is no stranger to the awards with previous World Car of the Year winners including the Volkswagen Polo in 2010 and the Volkswagen Golf in 2009.