The votes have been cast and counted and, this evening (9 December), the winners of the 2015 New Zealand Car of the Year awards were announced at an event hosted by the AA and the New Zealand Motoring Writers' Guild at the Viaduct Events Centre in Auckland.
The BMW i3 - a five door compact electric car - took home the presitigious Car of the Year award, beating off fierce competition from nine top contenders.
Designed from scratch, the BMW i3 is lightweight at 1320kg with much of its body made up of carbon-fibre and recycled plastic panels. Its batteries provide a range of about 150km, which is effectively doubled with a range-extender on models sold in New Zealand.
AA Motoring Services General Manager Stella Stocks says while electric vehicles form a tiny part of the New Zealand market, they are becoming a strong emerging sector.
“The BMW i3 is the epitome of what electric vehicles can offer Kiwi motorists which is a fresh and exciting alternative to their fossil-fuelled cousins,” Ms Stocks says.
“While EVs aren’t for everyone they are starting to make their mark, particularly in urban environments. Some manufacturers, like BMW, are investing heavily to develop technology ensuring that there will be an EV revolution in markets like New Zealand, around the world.”
The i3 also triumphed in the Best in Class Compact Car category in which it was nominated, but it was also a strong night for Hyundai who went home clutching five of the night's awards.
The Hyundai Santa Fe retained its crown in the Large SUV category for the second year running, while the Korean car maker's Tucson added a further two awards to their tally, leading in both the Medium SUV sector and proving to be a hit with over 4,500 of almost 35,000 Kiwi voters who made it their People's Choice.
The Hyundai Genesis secured another win in the Best in Class Luxury Car segment, before it was later announced as a joint winner in the award for Safest Car along with Volvo and their XC90.
This award is provided to the vehicle that receives the best Australasian New Car Assessment Programme (ANCAP) rating for both crash test performance and pedestrian safety combined released between 1 October 2014 and 30 September 2015.
ANCAP is on a pathway towards alignment with Euro NCAP protocols in 2018. In the interim, Euro NCAP results are now being published directly by ANCAP alongside results from its own protocols, which made selection this year challenging.
“Vehicle manufacturers today take safety very seriously and very often are going far beyond what is required of them to achieve a 5 star safety rating either with ANCAP or Euro NCAP," says Ms Stocks.
“We’re also seeing the bar lifted on all classes of vehicles including utes, which often double as family cars on the weekends.”
Ms Stocks says the Hyundai Genesis and Volvo XC90 offer a glimpse of safety assist technologies she would like to see as standard on all new cars soon.
“The technology developed for these cars is designed to save lives and consumers are starting to expect even more from car makers today on that front.”
Full winners list:
- Best in Class - Small car: Mazda2
- Best in Class - Compact car: BMW i3
- Best in Class - Medium/large car: Mercedes-Benz C-Class
- Best in Class - Luxury car: Hyundai Genesis
- Best in Class - Small SUV/Crossover: Mazda CX-3
- Best in Class - Medium SUV: Hyundai Tucson
- Best in Class - Large SUV: Hyundai Santa Fe
- Best in Class - Luxury SUV: Volvo XC90
- Best in Class - Utility: Ford Ranger
- Best in Class - Sports Performance: Mercedes AMG C 63
- Safest Car: Hyundai Genesis
- Safest Car: Volvo XC90
- People's Choice Car of the Year 2015: Hyundai Tucson
- Car of the Year 2015: BMW i3