BMW 730Ld reclaims Professional Driver Car of the Year crown
The Professional Driver Car of the Year for 2011 is the BMW 730Ld – reclaiming the crown it won back in 2009. With the highest total score, the BMW 730Ld finished ahead of the other three category winners to win the ultimate accolade in the annual car awards for the chauffeur and private hire market.
The Bavarian flagship outgunned its rivals in its class – Chauffeur car of the year. This is always the closest-fought category, with the highest scores across the board, and the 2011 voting was a tight as ever. The 7-series fought off tough competition from last year’s winner, the Jaguar XJL, and the market-leading Mercedes S350 LWB, as well as a strong new market entrant in the form of the new Audi A8L.
The BMW didn’t have the “wow factor” of last year’s winner, the Jaguar XJL. So the judging this year had to be a lot more rational. But despite strong competition, especially from the impressive new Audi, the BMW’s combination of passenger luxury, driveability and running costs, plus the availability of an excellent manufacturer-backed chauffeur programme, clinched the deal.
Two of the category winners held on to the top spot they won in last year’s Professional Driver Car of the Year Awards. Indeed, the Skoda Superb made it a hat-trick in the Private Hire Car of the Year category, having won as a saloon in 2009 and as an estate in 2010 and 2011. The Superb again had to fight off a strong challenge from the Ford Mondeo, while the third spot was claimed by the facelifted Volkswagen Passat – a strong showing for a solid contender.
The other winner to retain its crown was in the Executive Car of the Year class, where the innovative BMW 530d GT held on to its crown. Again Audi presented a strong challenge, with the new A6 coming third, while despite shortcomings in the rear seats, everybody just loves driving our runner-up, the Jaguar XF, which boasts a number of improvements for the 2012 model year.
But the 5GT is a cut above the rest in terms of passenger comfort, although its looks continue to divide opinions. But like the 730Ld, the smaller BMW is available on a chauffeur programme – vitally important in tough economic times.
The MPV of the Year class yielded the biggest surprise, with the new Volkswagen Sharan narrowly edging out the Ford Galaxy, which has won this award for the past two years. The new Sharan’s impressive size and flexible interior, plus excellent access via sliding doors, did enough to topple the market-leading Galaxy and last year’s runner-up, the Mercedes-Benz Viano, which finished third.