The BMW i3 has been crowned New Zealand Car of the Year 2015 at an awards ceremony at Auckland’s Viaduct Events Centre.

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Florian Renndorfer, managing director of BMW NZ, holding the NZ Car of Year trophy, flanked by Stella Stocks, left, the AA’s general manager of motoring services, and Liz Dobson, president of the NZ Motoring Writers’ Guild.

Florian Renndorfer, managing director of BMW NZ, holding the NZ Car of Year trophy, flanked by Stella Stocks, left, the AA’s general manager of motoring services, and Liz Dobson, president of the NZ Motoring Writers’ Guild
Florian Renndorfer, managing director of BMW NZ, holding the NZ Car of Year trophy, flanked by Stella Stocks, left, the AA’s general manager of motoring services, and Liz Dobson, president of the NZ Motoring Writers’ Guild
The Hyundai Tucson won the people’s choice – a category that made its debut appearance this year and was voted on by the public – while the Hyundai Genesis and Volvo’s XC90 both received the honour for safest car.

The class winners were small vehicle – Mazda 2, compact car – BMW i3, medium/large car – Mercedes-Benz C-class, small SUV/crossover – Mazda CX-3, medium SUV – Hyundai Tucson, large SUV – Hyundai Santa Fe, luxury SUV – Volvo XC90, utility – Ford Ranger, sports/performance car – Mercedes-AMG C 63, luxury car – Hyundai Genesis.

The top 10 finalists at the event on December 9 were the Audi Q7, BMW i3, Ford Mondeo, Hyundai Tucson, Land Rover Discovery Sport, Mazda 2, Mazda CX-3, Mazda MX-5, Subaru Legacy and Volvo XC90.

Members of the NZ Motoring Writers’ Guild and an AA motoring expert voted considering styling, performance, handling, economy, comfort, interior design, build quality and finish, practicality, value for money and x-factor.

Stella Stocks, the AA’s general manager of motoring services, says while electric vehicles (EVs) form a tiny part of the New Zealand market, they are becoming a strong emerging sector.

“The BMW i3 is the epitome of what EVs can offer Kiwi motorists, which is a fresh and exciting alternative to their fossil-fuelled cousins,” she says. “While EVs aren’t for everyone, they are making their mark – particularly in urban environments. Some manufacturers are investing heavily to develop technology for an EV revolution in markets like New Zealand and around the world.”

Stocks says with the support of central and local governments – and other organisations and companies developing infrastructure, such as rapid-charging stations – EVs will become more of a consideration to Kiwi motorists in the future.

Designed from scratch, the i3 is lightweight at 1,320kg with much of its body made up of carbon-fibre and recycled plastic panels. Its batteries provide a range of about 150km, which is effectively doubled with a range-extender on models sold in New Zealand.

Stocks says the inclusion of Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV in last year’s top 10 and the Holden Volt in 2013 show manufacturers are hitting the mark in the EV segment.

Liz Dobson, president of the guild, says the BMW i3 originally made it into the top 10 of new vehicles launched between October 1, 2014, and September 30, 2015, due to its innovative design and performance.

“When BMW set out to create a standalone range of EV, the German company built it completely from the wheels up,” she says. “The resulting i3 shows the dedication and determination of the marque to make an impact on the EV segment.

“The i3 won over the guild members, who cover all regions of New Zealand – from the Far North to Dunedin. It stands out due to its pioneering design and individual interior, but more importantly its performance on our roads.”

Stocks adds although the i3 took out this year’s crown, consumers should not overlook the quality represented by the other finalists. “Kiwis want multi-functional vehicles, which is why SUV sales are so strong compared with other classes. Manufacturers recognise this and are listening to consumers when designing their cars around how we want to be able to use them.”

via – autofile

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