THE stunning Range Rover Evoque was crowned Scottish Car of the Year 2011 at a glittering gala dinner in Glasgow’s Thistle Hotel on Friday.
It was the star of the evening as the awards, presented by the Association of Scottish Motoring Writers, were handed out.
The Evoque won the SUV/Crossover title and then fought off 10 other category winners in a final vote.
Competition was strong right across the board as I joined fellow members of the ASMW to vote on what we considered to be the best models over the year.
The other award winners were: Small – Kia Picanto; Family – Ford Focus; Estate – Hyundai i40; Executive – Audi A7; MPV – SEAT Alhambra; Sporting – Jaguar XKR-S; Drop Top – Volkswagen Golf; Diesel – Jaguar XF 2.2d; Electric – Peugeot iON; ECO – SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive.
This is also the ASMW’s 50th anniversary year and to mark the occasion members voted for the most iconic car launched since the group’s inception – the Jaguar E-Type winning the Bridge of Weir Leather company sponsored accolade.
The Car of the Year trophy was handed over by John Murdoch, president of the ASMW, who said: “Some superb new cars entered the market during the past 12 months and our members had a tough time selecting the category winners.”
Colin Green, Land Rover UK managing director, said: “We are absolutely delighted that the Range Rover Evoque is the 2011 Scottish Car of the year – undoubtedly one of the most important accolades in the industry.”
The Evoque is the 14th car to lift the Scottish Car of the Year award since the first title was won by the Ford Focus in 1998.
The other prize winners since then have been Jaguar S-Type, Audi A2, Jaguar X-Type, Mazda6, Volvo XC90, Peugeot 407, BMW 3 Series, Jaguar XK, Ford Mondeo, Ford Fiesta, Land Rover Discover 4, Kia Sportage and now Land Rover Evoque.
THE first award of the night went to Kia with the superb Picanto picking up the Small Car of the Year award.
It was a trophy I was called on to hand over and I fully agreed with fellow judges on their choice after driving the car.
The second-generation Picanto comes with brand new 1.0 and 1.25-litre Kappa-family petrol engines - delivering up to 8.5mph fuel consumption improvements with lower CO2 reductions but with much better performance.
There’s a choice of four trims - 1, 1 Air, 2 and 3 - with prices ranging from just £7,995 to £11,195.
I tested the 1.25 2 EcoDynamics version and it proved to be a little star on the road.
The Picanto is just 60mm longer than its predecessor and occupies slightly less than 3.6 metres of road price, yet it is extremely roomy inside.
Cabin space has been increased by 36mm with luggage capacity up by 27 per cent to 200 litres and rising to 605 litres with seats folded.
I found the driving position really good for this size of car and rear passenger space was fair in this five-door model - three-door versions are on their way.
The 84bhp engine with a zero to 62mph time of 11 seconds supplied plenty of power for a nippy performance in and around town, moving up and down the five-speed manual gearbox.
With a top speed of 106mph it perfmormed smoothly at motorway speeds and for this type of driving had an advantage over some compeititors and larger sized cars - a rest for your left foot.
Ride comfort is excellent for a small car and the Picanto showed its agility with good handling on some winding roads.
Being the Eco model, and aided by the ISG stop/start system, fuel consumption is extremely good, achieving 65.7mpg combined, 74.3mpg extra urban and 53.3mpg urban,
CO2 emissions of just 100g/km also mean that you won’t pay any Vehicle Excise Duty.
The Picanto is stylish inside and out and trim levels are high, with the test car’s standard equipment including Bluetooth connectivity, iPod control with USB & AUX ports, electrically operated, heated and folding door mirrors with integrated LED side repeaters, air conditioning, front and rear electric windows, 14-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, leather steering wheel and gear lever, alarm system premium black upholstery and chrome extgerior detailing - all for £10,195.
All models also have a full range of electronic safety features - as well as Kia’s terrific seven years or 100,000 miles fully transferable warranty.
I reckon the Picanto offers exceptional value for what is a super little car - and worthy award winner.