The BMW 3 Series is the National Business Review Supreme Car of the Year for 2012.
Announced at a function on Auckland’s waterfront this week, the all-new 3 Series was awarded the top prize in front of a select audience of motor industry executives.
Why the 3 Series? It is a car that has long been the default choice in the compact-executive class, and with good reason: it has always offered a unique blend of luxury, technology and dynamism.
The latest model serves up even broader appeal.
It has lost none of its executive appeal or driver-focused character, but thanks to a blend of engineering innovation and EfficientDynamics technology, it has pushed the brand even further forward in terms of environmental credentials.
It is larger and yet lighter than the previous model, better performing yet more fuel-efficient.
SUPREME CAR OF THE YEAR: BMW 3 SERIES
BMW: Ed Finn, Chris Roe, Greg Hedgepeth, Kelly Allen and Dave Hewitt
The 3 Series range offers value-driven models like the 320i and high-performance potential from the likes of the flagship 335i. The mid-range 320d is arguably the finest all-round automobile on the market today.
In presenting the award, this writer related an anecdote from time road resting the vehicle earlier in the year: it was a weekend trip, undertaken four-up on country roads. All occupants travelled in comfort and felt quite special.
The driver was constantly entertained by the rear-drive chassis.
At journey’s end, the average speed was 92km/h and the average fuel consumption was 4.8 litres per 100km.
That is an incredible combination of talents. The 3 Series does not compromise on BMW’s driver-focused values, but it is also very much a car for the environmentally conscious 21st century.
The 3 Series topped a list of five category awards: Best Crossover, Best Sports Car, Best Performance Car, Green Car and Best Vehicle Technology for 2012.
CROSSOVER OF THE YEAR: MAZDA CX-5
Best Crossover was awarded to the Mazda CX-5. It is the first of a new generation of Mazdas that employ the brand’s so-called SkyActiv engine, transmission and construction technology to provide cleaner running through reduced friction and lower weight.
The CX-5 is unquestionably at the top of its class and rivals many higher-priced European models.
SPORTS CAR OF THE YEAR: TOYOTA 86
Best Sports Car was the Toyota 86, a compact, lightweight rear-drive coupe designed in partnership with Subaru.
The 86 is a very rare thing: an affordable two-door designed from the ground up with nothing but pure driving pleasure in mind. It is brilliantly executed.
PERFORMANCE CAR OF THE YEAR: PORSCHE 911
Best Performance Car: the iconic Porsche 911. The new-generation 911 sticks to the same rear-engined, rear-drive formula that has made the car unique for 49 years.
But there has also been a significant evolution in terms of styling proportion, efficiency and sophistication.
It is still the world’s greatest performance car, but now it plays the role of grand tourer equally well.
GREEN CAR OF THE YEAR: HOLDEN VOLT
The Holden Volt was named Green Car of the Year. Volt is a new breed of eco-car that combines the range of a hybrid with the zero-emissions potential of a pure electric car.
It can be driven solely on electricity (up to 90km between charges), but if longer range is required an on-board petrol generator fires up to power the electric motor.
It is a no-compromise green car – and a very desirable one too, with real style and presence.
VEHICLE TECHNOLOGY OF THE YEAR: SUBARU EYESIGHT
Vehicle Technology of the Year was Subaru’s EyeSight. It is a clever-yet-simple system that drives some very high-tech safety features.
Dual cameras mounted in the car "see" down the road in three dimensions, analysing potential problems and providing valuable driver-assistance features.
For example, EyeSight can provide a collision warning to the driver if the car in front is being approached too fast – and ultimately brake the car autonomously if necessary.
EyeSight performs a similar emergency stop function in city driving, acts as a lane departure warning system … and more.
Such features are not unique to Subaru, but the EyeSight technology that controls them is. It is an elegantly simple and highly effective system.