The all-electric hatch beat out the likes of the Volvo S60 and the Ford C-Max in this year’s controversial awards, edging out runner up Alfa Romeo’s new Giulietta for the coveted title.
Autocar’s Steve Cropley, one of the journalists voting in the awards, put the 2011 Nissan Leaf as his first-place choice. The electric Leaf "does more than any rival to 'normalize' electric cars," he said, which is one of the reasons we love the car so much as well.
The European Car of the Year awards is judged by a panel of 59 members, representing 23 European countries. National representation on the panel is related to the size of the country's car market and its importance in car manufacturing, with France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Spain topping the list with six members each.
A total of 41 candidates were originally eligible for the 2011 awards, all of which have to be new vehicles available now or soon in five or more European markets, and each with a prospect of at least 5,000 yearly sales.
At the time this article was published, the official website for the Car of the Year awards had not been updated to reflect this year's award so stay tuned for an update. In the meantime, check out John Voelcker's more detailed report over at GreenCarReports.