The Volkswagen Up has been named What Car?'s Car of The Year, making Volkswagen the most successful manufacturer in the award's 34 year history.
Held in central London, the annual awards also crowned the £8,000 Volkswagen as Best City Car, seeing off rivals from Fiat, Kia and Skoda; the Up was praised for its safety features not normally seen in small cars.
Editor-in-chief of What Car?, Chas Hallett, said: "The Volkswagen up! sets new standards for a car at £10,000. It's a city car that can seat four adults, while offering new levels of refinement, quality and maturity at this price; none of its rivals feels quite so grown-up. Buyers will be looking for even more for their money than ever in 2012, so the Up is a worthy winner of the What Car? Car of the Year."
Volkeswagen said: "We're delighted with the awards we have received from What Car? this year, and winning the overall Car of the Year accolade gives our new city car, the up!, the best introduction to the UK market that we could have hoped for.
"Our new up! offers small car buyers all the high quality, safety and value for money attributes for which Volkswagen is renowned in an unbeatable compact package. Items which have previously been the reserve of cars in higher segments - for example, the optional City Emergency Braking which uses sensors to scan the space ahead, then applies the brakes automatically if it detects that the car is about to hit an object in front - offers buyers the best in city safety, in a car costing under £8,000.
"We are very grateful for our What Car? awards and are sure they mark the start of a very successful year for the Volkswagen brand."
At the other end of the motoring scale, the Jaguar C-X16 was voted the Most Exciting Car of 2012 by readers of the What Car? magazine and website.
The Jaguar has a 375bhp, 3.0-litre V6 engine and boasts an electric motor which is charged under braking and offers up an extra 95bhp at the touch of a button. Jaguar expects the X-C16 to cost around £50,000 when it goes on sale later this year.
On receiving the award, Adrian Hallmark, global brand director of Jaguar, said: "The C-X16 has received an extraordinary reaction since first appearing in Frankfurt last year - we're proud that the readers of What Car? share our enthusiasm for the Concept by voting in such numbers."
It was a good night for Volkswagen, with the Golf winning the Small Family Car award for the sixth time overall and the fourth consecutive year, and VW also won the Safety Award.
German manufacturers as a whole had a hugely successful night, with Audi claiming three awards; the company won Best Supermini with the A1 for the second year running, and the TT claimed best Coupe and Open-top awards.
Porsche won best Performance Car of The Year with the ever-popular 911 Carrera S PDK, seeing off competition from the new McLaren MP4-12C and last year's winner, the Ferrari 458 Italia.
Hallet praised the Porsche for being "fast and involving enough for real fun on a twisty B-road, but it's enough of an all-rounder for long motorway runs or trips around town."
Yet another award for a German manufacturer went to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, which claimed Best Luxury Car for the seventh consecutive year. President and CEO of Mercedes UK, Marcus Breitschwerdt said: "We know we have a great car in the S-Class and are delighted that What Car? recognise this too."
Renault won the Best Hot Hatch award with the Megane RenaultSport for the third year in a row. Renault has dominated the hot hatch market in recent years, with the proof being that three of the six nominations this year were from the French manufacture.
The Seat Alhambra retained its Best MPV title for a second year, seeing off competition from the Ford Galaxy and Renault Grand Scenic, and Korean manufacturer Kia won the Ultra Low Carbon award as praise for the environmental contribution made by all of its latest models.
The ever-popular Ford Modeo won Best Family Car and Best Estate Car for the second year running; the Modeo also won both awards in 2009.
For the seventh year in a row, the BMW 3-Series was crowned the Best Compact Executive Car. What Car? said: "The new BMW 3 Series is great to drive, with sharp steering and a well judged chassis. But the biggest gains are in efficiency; it delivers 60mpg and CO<sub>2 emissions so low that it falls into the cheapest 13 per cent company car tax band for diesels. It's a convincing winner of our Executive Car of the Year award."
Finally, back-from-the-dead MG won the Security Award for its MG6, which is designed and engineered in Birmingham. The What Car? panel said: "MG's new hatch stood out for us. The MG6 has been bolstered with the industry's highest-rated alarm and immobiliser system, complete with perimeter detection. Meanwhile, body security has been fortified with first-press double locking, and vehicle identification enhanced with markings."