Our Professional Driver Car of the Year for 2016 is the BMW 730Ld, recapturing the accolade the previous-generation model won in 2009 and 2011.
The car, which also captured our Chauffeur Car of the Year category, won on sheer quality – comfortable, roomy, packed with outstanding features and a real pleasure to drive.
The new BMW 730Ld registered one of the highest average scores for any car we’ve ever seen in the history of the Professional Driver Car of the Year Awards. Factor in some impressively low running costs and some great manufacturer back-up, and you’ve got an outstanding car.
Choosing the overall winner was a close call – all the seven Professional Driver Car of the Year category-winning cars made a strong case.
In particular, the new Skoda Superb won two categories, taking back the Private Hire Car of the Year award that the previous-generation car won four times, as well as the Estate Car of the Year class.
The Skoda Superb remains the benchmark in the private hire sector – especially as far as functionality and comfort goes. The new model is bigger than the old one in just about every dimension, especially rear seat space and luggage volume, making it the ideal all-purpose private hire car.
The big shoot-out was in the Executive Car of the Year class between two well-received newcomers in the form of the Mercedes E-Class and the Volvo S90. Could the Volvo match the Merc?
Almost. The new E220d is still a formidable vehicle, taking on a lot of safety technology and interior finish from the S-Class. And it was a clear winner on the day – still the benchmark for the class. The S90 put up a good fight, though. It represents a massive leap forward for Volvo over the old S80.
Volvo was able to console itself by winning the Green Car of the Year category with the Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid. This was judged to offer a great combination of luxury, low running costs and great manufacturer support through a benchmark chauffeur programme.
It edged out last year’s overall winner, the Tesla S, which still scored heavily on driveability, but lacks rear-seat comfort and carries a high purchase price, wiping out much of its advantage in running costs.
Last year’s Professional Driver awards were just too early for the new Audi Q7, but it more than made up for lost time this year, edging out last year’s winner, the Volvo XC90 D5, to take the Luxury SUV of the Year award.
The new Q7 is a neater, lower car than the original version, and our Judges were full of praise for the car’s car-like ride and handling, and its excellent driving dynamics. The sat-nav system drew praise too, allowing multiple map displays on nav screen and instrument panel.
The MPV of the Year category was another close-fought affair, with second, third and fourth places separated by just a couple of points. But the clear winner for the first time in this class was the Seat Alhambra.
Facelifted last year with new satnav, lights and Euro 6 engines, the Alhambra has always been a potent product. It’s a genuine seven-seater, with ease of access via sliding doors. And Seat offers lower prices than VW does for the near-identical Sharan, giving the Alhambra the edge on running costs.
The Alhambra edged out last year’s winner, the Ford Galaxy, and the impressive new BMW 220d Grand Tourer, the German automaker’s first MPV.
Professional Driver Car of the Year winners 2016
Car of the Year
BMW 730Ld M Sport
Chauffeur Car of the Year
BMW 730Ld M Sport
Executive Car of the Year
Mercedes-Benz E220d AMG
Private Hire Car of the Year
Skoda Superb SE Business 2.0TDI
MPV of the Year
SEAT Alhambra SE Lux 2.0TDI
Luxury SUV of the Year
Audi Q7 3.0TDI quattro SE
Estate Car of the Year
Skoda Superb Laurin & Klement 2.0TDI
Green Car of the Year
Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine Inscription
Roll of honour
2015 - Tesla S85
2014 - Mercedes-Benz S300 BlueTec Hybrid
2013 - Mercedes-Benz E300 BlueTec Hybrid
2012 - Volvo S80 D3 SE Lux
2011 - BMW 730Ld
2010 - Jaguar XJL 3.0D
2009 - BMW 730Ld