QSI News

BMW 730Ld is 2016 Professional Driver Car of the Year

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

PD web CoTY Seat Alhambra 800
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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

Addison Lee voted Private Hire Operator of the Year

Addison Lee, the UK’s biggest private hire operator, won two Gold awards and one Silver, including Gold for Private Hire Operator of the Year (80+ vehicles).The company also won the Environment category Gold award for a wide-ranging environmental strategy designed to eliminate wasteful “dead mileage” of its 4,500-car fleet.

Professional Driver magazine editor Mark Bursa said: “Addison Lee is now established as the flag-bearer for our industry’s fight against predators, and its efforts in the past 12 months demonstrate the sort of efforts that are required. From implementing a successful business strategy that has seen the company grow through acquisition and open up an operation in Manchester and at Luton Airport, right down to the minutiae of driver training, Addison Lee is taking a lead.”

The company has become significantly more sustainable, thanks to greener vehicles and a rigorous environmental programme that has sought to eliminate dead mileage. Addison Lee has taken a root-and-branch approach to its green policy, addressing almost every aspect of its business in a bid to become significantly more sustainable. It’s now well on the way to halving its 2008-level carbon emissions by 2020.

Addison Lee also too a Silver award in the Marketing category. Bursa added: “Addison Lee is leveraging its app to grow its customer base via third party operators in other cities. Safety initiatives have cut accidents, and late-night female ridership has grown, proving the company is now one of the most trustworthy. And it has embraced diversity, supporting initiatives such as Pride. Even cyclists, once seen as a problem, are now a specific target audience.”

Treble success for Alpha Executive Cars

Bur St Edmunds-based Alpha Executive Cars was the biggest winner at the QSi Awards. Driver Andrew Matthews walked away with the coveted Gold award for Professional Driver of the Year – making him Britain’s best chauffeur of 2016.

Alpha Executive Cars also won Gold awards in the Chauffeur Operator of the Year (1-10 vehicles) and New-Start Business categories of the 2016 Professional Driver QSi Awards.

Professional Driver magazine editor Mark Bursa said: “Andrew Matthews is a young driver who has become the lynchpin of his company’s success. Always smiling, and always in demand, his achievement is all the more impressive as he suffers from Crohn’s Disease, which can, at times, be quite debilitating and requires careful management through diet and exercise – not easy when you’re working long and irregular hours.”

Alpha Executive Cars owner David Burke said: “Andy wasn’t just interested in receiving jobs and going out and doing them. He wanted to know what our future looked like, how he could help deliver that, and help be part of the story. He has a level of dedication to customer service that I’ve never seen before, either in this industry, or previous ones I’ve worked in.

“He really does go the extra mile. He’s one of those rare breeds that has an amazing can-do attitude to things, even at the last minute, regularly sacrificing social and personal engagements just to get the job done, at all hours of the day and night.”

Commenting on Alpha Executive Cars’ Gold awards in the Chauffeur Operator of the Year (1-10 vehicles) and New-Start Business categories, Mark Bursa said: “Alpha Executive Cars has transformed itself from a private hire company to a fully-fledged executive chauffeur, trading a fleet of Fords for Mercedes-Benz and raising its standards and attention to detail – down to a specific tie knot for its drivers.”

“Alpha Executive Cars is based in the rural market town of Bury St Edmunds, yet its innovative and classy approach has carved it out a niche carrying out airport work for local businesses in a market dominated by established operators. A strong focus on social media has also contributed to impressive year-on-year growth figures.”

Double Gold for Go Green Taxis

Go Green Taxis has won two prestigious awards in the only national awards for the private hire and chauffeur industry. The Didcot company has won the Gold award in two categories of the 2016 Professional Driver QSi Awards. - Private Hire Company of the Year, 1-80 vehicles, and the Marketing Award.

Professional Driver magazine editor Mark Bursa said: “A bright and lively strategy has seen Go Green expand out of its home town of Didcot and into the much larger market of Oxford, with ambitions to widen its operations even further. Business accounts have doubled in a six-month period, and Go Green’s own app now has more than 3,000 regular users.”

Go Green Taxis last year had 11 cars – now it has 47. And it hits its growth targets every month, with revenue increasing four-fold over the past year. Vehicles are operated to a high standard, drivers are extremely well trained and the branded Go Green fleet now includes minibuses and executive vehicles, as well as a Nissan Leaf, in addition to the core Toyota Prius hybrids.

Mark Bursa added: “The Marketing Award was won on the strength of the sheer vibrancy of its approach. Initiatives include a very strong social media presence across several platforms; involvement with local events – including the Didcot Street Festival; creatively produced flyers and brochures; and eye-catching signs on roundabouts that it sponsors around the town’s ring road. Just as impressive is an internal “driver excellence programme” which is aimed at getting new recruits on-message for the company’s off-beat but very professional style.”

Solway scores historic “three-peat” at QSi Awards

Solway Private Hire has done it again! For the third year running, the Silloth, Cumbria-based company has won the prestigious Gold award in the Community Category of the Professional Driver QSi Awards, the only national awards for UK taxi and private hire operators.

Professional Driver magazine editor Mark Bursa said: “The company’s commitment to its local town of Silloth has been well documented in its two previous wins. But this year, Solway Private Hire was really pushed to the limit. Cast your mind back to last winter and the devastating floods that hit rural Cumbria.”

“With bus services cancelled and roads blocked with debris or submerged, Solway Private Hire became the town’s transport lifeline, getting people to work and children to school despite the weather chaos. A truly outstanding effort.”

Mark Bursa continued: “Without the company, the remote seaside town of Silloth would probably grind to a halt. Solway Private Hire’s only concern to its customers. It’s more a family than a business, delivering extraordinary service beyond the call of duty – and sorting out the bill over a cup of tea and a chat.”