The redesigned Renault Clio on Monday was named European ‘Car Of The Year’ for 2006.

Finalists were the Clio, Volkswagen Passat, Alfa Romeo 159, BMW 3-series, Mazda 5, Citroën C1/Peugeot 107/Toyota Aygo and the Toyota Yaris.

UK Coty juror Steve Cropley said: “It has been a very tough contest this year and the Renault Clio won by just four points, leaving the Volkswagen Passat a very close second. ‘The jurors were impressed by Renault’s change in philosophy with the latest Clio, which has brought much-improved refinement and trim quality to the car, along with improved road presence and rear cabin space.”

The COTY jury is made up of 58 journalists from 22 countries. Their objective is to choose the most outstanding new car to go on sale in the past 12 months. Jurors vote twice: first to select a short-list of seven from the new cars launched in Europe, then again to choose the winner. Last year’s winner was the hybrid Toyota Prius.

The CEO of Renault will receive the Car Of The Year 2006 trophy in January.