The petrol-electric Prius, with 406 points, finished ahead of the Citroen C4 (267), Ford Focus (228), Vauxhall Astra (180), Renault Modus (151), Peugeot 407 (135) and BMW 1-series (83).
The Car of the Year jury is made up of 58 journalists from 22 countries and aims to choose ‘the most outstanding new car to go on sale in the past 12 months’.
Jurors vote twice – first to select a shortlist of seven from the new cars launched in Europe, then to choose a single winner.
Last year’s winner was the Fiat Panda.
The latest Prius is expected to reach 8,500 sales in Europe this year and 15,000 in 2005.