The list has been whittled down to 12 vehicles ahead of the awards ceremony, which will be held as part of the New York International Auto Show on April 17.
Developed to celebrate excellence in real-world automotive achievement, 2014 marks the event’s 11th year and the inclusion of a new sub-category.
As well as the overall winner, there are also awards for the performance car of the year; green car of the year; world car design of the year; and for the first time ever, world luxury car of the year.
The new category has been introduced to reflect the fact that some of the world’s best cars are in the premium segment and therefore too niche to be considered true world cars, yet are still worthy of recognition.
This year’s main prize finalists include the Audi A3, BMW 4 Series, Ford Fusion/Mondeo, Mazda 3 and Peugeot 308 but, for once, VW hasn’t made the cut. The German car company has managed to scoop the top award in four of the past five years, including 2013 when the Golf claimed the top prize.
However Volkswagen will be competing in the Green Car of the Year category with its XL1 super-efficient diesel hybrid two-seater city car. What’s more, its hot hatch Golf GTI has somehow made it onto the list for the performance car of the year award.
The newly announced luxury car competition will see a host of SUVs, including the Range Rover Sport and Porsche Macan, go up against more traditionally comfortable cars, most notably the Rolls-Royce Wraith, Maserati Quattroporte and Bentley Flying Spur.
As well as the Golf GTI, the performance car category will be contested by, among others, the Ferrari 458 Speciale, Porsche 911 Turbo, Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 Roadster and Alfa Romeo 4C.
The full lists:
World Car of the Year finalists
BMW 4 Series
Citroen C4 Picasso
Ford Fusion / Mondeo
Performance car of the Year finalists
Alfa Romeo 4C
Audi RS 6 Avant
BMW M6 Gran Coupe
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Ferrari 458 Speciale
Ford Fiesta ST
Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 Roadster
Mercedes-Benz A/CLA45 AMG
Porsche 911 GT3
Porsche 911 Turbo
Volkswagen Golf GTI
Luxury Car of the Year finalists
Bentley Flying Spur
Range Rover Sport
World Green Car finalists
Audi A3 Sportback e-tron (+ Audi e-gas)
Honda Accord Hybrid
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
World Car Design of the Year finalists
Citroen C4 Picasso