It’s an interesting time in the car industry. While Brexit is worrying many manufacturers, others are seizing the opportunity presented by increased interest from motorists for hybrid and electric cars. In this environment, the What Car Car of the Year Awards 2020 have just taken place.
As you might expect, there was only venue for an award of this size and gravitas. It was held in the Great Room of the Grovesnor House Hotel in London. I was delighted to attend as a guest of What Car and equally happy to be inside the shelter of the Great Room as Storm Brendan raged outside, bringing down trees and branches across London and South East England.
The ceremony was opened by comedian Ed Gamble who cheekily made fun of Motoreasy, the motoring association and the event’s main sponsor. The awards themselves were presented by What Car editor Steve Huntingford and BBC journalist and broadcaster Louise Minchin.
There were a total of 22 categories, ranging from best vehicle technology to best family car and, of course, the overall winner taking Car of The Year. In each category, awards were given in three price points and then one of those was given an overall award in that class.
For a full list of winners, do go and take a look at the What Car website. I present to you here a few of the highlights, with a particular focus on cars that would be of interest to the family market or those thinking of going electric in some form.
This award went to the Skoda Scala. It’s not a car I am familiar with but with a list price of £18,000 and a five star NCAP safety rating, I can see its appeal.
The overall winner was a vehicle I see more and more of on the roads, and that’s the Range Rover Evoque. Again, it’s not one I have driven but I have driven the Skoda Karoq, which was also in this category.
Finalists included the Audi Q5 and Mazda CX-5, but the winner went to the Peugeot 5008. It’s a very well-deserved win from a car I thoroughly enjoyed testing out a few months ago (read about it here). With a price tag just shy of £30,000 it’s also £10,000 cheaper that the Range Rover Evoque and with seven seats as standard, a great family car.
One of the aspects judges were looking for in this category was “space for people and family paraphernalia.” The shortlist featured the Citroën Berlingo, Volkswagen Touran and Ford Galaxy.
It was Citroën’s year as the overall award went to the Berlingo, with the judges highlighting the £20,460 price tag as being great value plus the amount of space the vehicle provides. Citroën stands out for building good family cars so I wasn’t surprised the award went to the Berlingo.
These awards had four categories dedicated to hybrid and electric cars, a sure sign of the way the industry is moving. The first award in these categories was for best hybrid and it went to the Toyota Corolla. The judges mentioned the Corolla’s low running costs and reliability. As if to prove the point, the Toyota Corolla went on to win the reliability award later in the night. So it was a double win.
As an aside, watch this space. I should soon be test-driving the Corolla so I will be able to provide you with my own, detailed opinion on the car.
Those with their own driveway or garage can consider a plug-in hybrid if they don’t wish to go completely. The overall winner here was the BMW 330e, with the judges saying it went further on a charge than its competitors and was more frugal when using petrol.
The small electric category featured the Seat Mii, Kia e-Niro and the Renault Zoe. The overall winner was the Renault Zoe, with the judges praising its interior and its 192-mile range. You can read about my experiences of driving the Renault Zoe in this blog post.
The large electric category featured the Tesla Model 3, Jaguar I-Pace and Audi E-Tron. The overall winner was the Tesla Model 3, the judges praising its range, it’s charge time and high levels of comfort, plus its £56,490 which makes it easier on the wallet than its immediate rivals.
I haven’t driven the Model 3 but I have had the great pleasure of driving the Tesla Model X and you can read about it here.
Car of the Year
The big title of the night, the What Car Car of the Year went to the Ford Puma, which was also the winner in the small SUV category. Judges said it was well-priced, well packaged and well-priced at £23,645. It’s not a car I’ve driven but having scooped this title, I’d be very curious to do so and as a small SUV with such a low price-point, I can see it appealing greatly to the family market.
Those were highlights from the awards. It was interesting to note that with 22 categories almost a quarter of them were reserved for electric vehicles and hybrids. While there were categories for sports cars and coupés, school-run SUVS and other families also featured heavily. It just goes to show how important the family market is to the car industry.
As you will have noticed, I have test driven a variety of cars that featured in the awards. I think the Peugeot 5008 definitely deserved to win in its category and I was pleased to see the Renault Zoe and Tesla Model 3 take awards. I must also thank What Car for the invite.
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