The Nissan Leaf has been named as the World Car of the Year for 2011 at the New York motor show.

The electric vehicle saw off competition from more conventional runners-up the Audi A8 and BMW 5 Series.

The Leaf already picked up the European Car of the Year trophy in February amongst other plaudits its has picked up in its short life.

The WCOTY award was decided by 66 automotive journalists from 24 countries, chosen for their expertise and experience.

The jurors praised the fact that the Nissan's accessibility mixed with new technology: "The Leaf is the gateway to a brave new electric world from Nissan. It feels just like a normal car, only quieter."

Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn described the win as a 'great joy' for the firm.

Perhaps strangely, the Leaf was beaten to the World Green Car of the Year award decided by the same jury by both the Chevrolet Volt and BMW 320d EfficientDynamics.

The Aston Martin Rapide was declared as the best design and the Ferrari 458 Italia as the best performance car.