Volkswagen's Golf 6 was crowned the 2009 World Car of the Year at a glittering ceremony at the New York motor show.
The hatchback, which launches in South Africa at the end of April, was chosen from an initial list of 51 entries. In February, the list was whittled down to 10 when jurors were requested to score the candidates on merit, value, safety, environment and emotional appeal.
The top three contenders for the ultimate prize were Ford's Fiesta, the Toyota iQ and the Volkswagen.
Fiat's 500 trumped the Citroen C5 and Jaguar XF to be adjudged World Car Design of the Year.
In the World Performance Car category, Nissan's GT-R beat off the Corvette ZR1 and Porsche 911 to take the top honours. To quality for this award, contenders must have a minimum annual production run of 500 units or more.
Jurors selected the Honda FCX Clarity as the 2009 World Green Car. The Mitsubishi iMiEV and Toyota iQ rounded out the top three in this category.
The Mazda2 was the World Car of the Year for 2008.