VOTING s open in the second Sunday Times Motor Awards sponsored by Bridgestone and over the weeks since launch we’ve be giving you the details of each of the shortlisted entries in each category.
Our motoring writers whittled down the long lists of their favourite cars on sale this year to produce the final nominees, but most of the winners will be decided by you. Even better, by voting you could win a seven-night holiday for two in Thailand.
Below are the Best Car Manufacturer of the Year contenders with the reasons behind their nomination. When you’ve found your favourite, be sure to click through to vote for it — the winner will be the one that receives the most support from our readers.
Choose from Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Porsche, PSA (Citroën, DS, Peugeot, Vauxhall), Toyota and Volvo.
Our panel of experts were looking for companies that not only produce excellent ranges of new vehicles but are also making significant contributions to the future of the motor car in general, as well as improving the ownership experience for buyers.
The winners of the 2019 Sunday Times Motor Awards, including the coveted Sunday Times Car of the Year and Jeremy Clarkson’s Car of the Year, will be announced at a star-studded event in October.
Jaguar Land Rover
There have been highs and, more recently, lows for Jaguar Land Rover, but the Tata-owned company has weathered the storms. New products (including our Car of the Year in 2018, the Jaguar I-Pace) have seen the comparatively small player beat German competitors in the race to electrify cars, while superb updates to globally popular models like the Range Rover Evoque have ensured hard-won customers that are new to the Land Rover brand remain loyal.
Little over a decade ago, if a neighbour bought a new Kia you might have assumed the Joneses were down on their luck. Now the company is not only producing desirable cars that suggest quite the opposite, including the Sportage, ProCeed and forthcoming xCeed, but with the e-Niro and other electrified models Kia is showing thought-leadership in the rapidly-evolving motoring sector. All while continuing to offer top levels of customer satisfaction and care.
In an age when carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions count for more than horsepower and lap times, can driving still be fun? Porsche has proved it can. The continual improvement of long-standing models such as the 718 Boxster and 911 demonstrate how drivers can have their cake and eat it, while forthcoming electric Porsches such as the Taycan prove there is a place at the top table for the German sports car maker in a zero-emission age.
PSA (Citroën, DS, Peugeot, Vauxhall)
There are question marks hanging over the future of Vauxhall’s UK manufacturing sites following its aquisition by PSA Groupe, but the company may actually save the brand over the long term through economies of scale, with the new Corsa sharing its platform with the Peugeot 208, for example. That also means dragging the British marque into the 21st century through electrification, and the injection of a certain je ne sais quoi when it comes to desirability (Peugeot, Citroën and DS are all showing serious design flare right now) is no bad thing at all.
Toyota has long advocated petrol-electric hybrid powertrains, highlighting the emissions of diesel engines within urban environments, and it is one of the few car makers seriously pursuing the commercialisation of hydrogen-powered vehicles and the wider, required infrastructure. Meanwhile its core products are becoming ever-more desirable, with new RAV4 and Camry models being the latest highlights, and the return of the Corolla throws a serious contender into the family hatchback market.
After parting ways with Ford, Volvo is a company that has been reinvigorated by investment from China’s Geely, and has forged ahead with plans to make its cars not only safer but also more distinctive and desirable than those from its German rivals. With surging sales in the UK, the evidence to date suggests the change of ownership and shift in direction has secured the brand’s long-term future, and this year marks the end of diesel engine production as Volvo’s investment in hybrid and electric powertrains begins to ramp up.