The 2012 winners
1 Volkswagen Passat SE
2 Hyundai i40 Tourer
3 Ford Mondeo Titanium X
4 Peugeot 508 GT
5 Kia Optima 2 Tech
The absence of the perennial winner of this category, the Skoda Superb, meant the field was wide open in the Private Hire Car of the Year category. And in the end, it was the all-round competence of the Superb’s closest relative, the Volkswagen Passat, that claimed victory.
The car drew consistent praise across the board – a comfortable interior, a large luggage space and a smooth powertrain all scored highly. And attention to detail really clinched the prize – DAB radio, a powered tailgate and an easy-to-use sat-nav with full postcode entry all made the car future-proof.
In addition, good running costs and class-leading residual values made the Passat a good option for the bottom line.
Passat’s closest challenge came, perhaps surprisingly, from one of the new entrants to the class – the Hyundai i40 Tourer. Pitched somewhere between a hatchback and an estate, this comfortable Korean newcomer impressed with rear set comfort and ample loadspace, coupled with keen pricing and Hyundai’s excellent extended warranty.
Indeed, both the Korean newcomers did well, with the Kia Optima making the top five ahead of established competitors, including Toyota Avensis and Vauxhall Insignia. Again, the Optima makes financial sense with a class-leading seven-year warranty. But it lost marks against the Hyundai because of a harsh ride – Kia has targeted the driver with the Optima, but its firm Germanic handling is to the detriment of back-seat refinement, the judges believed.
In third and fourth came the Ford Mondeo and Peugeot 508. Mondeo was especially praised for its loadspace and its comfortable rear-seat ride, while the Peugeot could have done better had it not been for a fiddly and inadequate sat-nav.
Roll of Honour