The new Alfa Giulietta has made it into the final shortlist of seven cars vying to become Car of the Year 2011 and in doing so emulate its successful predecessor, the Alfa 147, which scooped the prestigious award exactly a decade ago. Today the organisers reduced the initial list of 41 cars to just 7 with the new C-segment five-door Alfa Romeo up against a range of cars such as Nissan's electric Leaf, Ford's new C-Max and Dacia's low-cost SUV, the Duster.

The award requires new cars to available now or soon in five or more European markets, and each to have the prospect of at least 5,000 yearly sales. The voting process has two stages. The first one, which has just concluded, produced the final short list of seven nominees. The second round will find the single winner that will be made known on November 29th, 2010. The Giulietta will aim to emulate the 147 which won the Car Of the Year award in 2001 as well as the Alfa 156 which came out on top three years earlier. Most recently the Alfa 159 came third in 2006.

Named as a celebrated model of the ‘50s that was the first mass-produced Alfa Romeo, the Giulietta has risen to the occasion with a nice style that doesn’t betray the expectations and with a road attitude packed with agile handling and good comfort. The 5-door model premieres a new ‘architecture’ in Fiat Group devised to enhance structural stiffness, weight containment, noise suppression and climate control. Despite the coupe-like roof line, cabin and boot are reasonably ample. The results in Euro NCAP are the best of a compact car so far. The Giulietta has an assorted engine offering, including the efficient 1.4 MultiAir with hydraulic valve actuation and 170 hp. All engines have the Start&Stop device as standard, except the sporty 1750 TB (235 hp).

The Alfa Giulietta is up against six other new models for the Car of the Year 2011 award: Citroën's new C3/DS3 making the shortlist reflects an improvement in the French company's small model portfolio, Dacia's Duster is a low-cost SUV with a 105 bhp engine and the option of 4x4; Ford's new C-Max (and 7-seater Grand C-Max) previews the next-generation Focus due next year and will be one of 10 models eventually spun off the global C-platform, Nissan's electric Leaf sees zero-emission power impressing the judges to make it this far and has to be a strong candidate for a surprise win, Vauxhall/Opel's new Meriva utilises the underpinnings of its bigger MPV sister, the Zafira, in an attempt to push the small MPV segment forward, while the final contender is Volvo's new S60/V60 which was developed under the Swedish brand's previous owners, Ford, and busily raids its parts bin, but is now a shortlist contender from the Chinese owned company.

© 2010 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed