'The UK car industry is still the best in the world for new cars'

Despite all the negativity about the UK car industry, Mike Rutherford thinks it's still better than its American and Japanese counterparts

OPINION - Aston Martin Vantage

After the first round of voting for the 2019 World Car Awards, the unexpected happened. Britain’s battered and bruised motor industry was, in effect, voted third on the planet for desirable, quality products that impress and satisfy the people who drive them. Or, to be more precise, four British cars – the Aston Martin Vantage, Jaguar’s E-Pace and I-Pace, plus the McLaren 720S – enabled the UK to proudly occupy that coveted third-place slot.

We already knew these were world-class cars. Now more than 80 jurors – most of whom are non-Brits – have decided they should go through to the World Car Finals, with the first leg being played at the Geneva Motor Show next month, and the second and final one at the New York International Auto Show in April.

Best SUVs and 4x4s to buy

It’s in NYC where Jaguar could find itself in a win, win, win situation by picking up the World Car of the Year (WCOTY), World Car Design and World Green Car gongs for the I-Pace. Aston and McLaren will slug it out for the World Performance Car title, while the underdog E-Pace could steal that World Car Design crown. In terms of proportions, this is the finest, most underrated little SUV I’ve seen and driven in years. Don’t know how Jaguar does it for less than £30,000.

Only Germany (with 11) and South Korea (six) have more World Car contenders than Britain. Japan and Sweden each have two, France, Spain and the US are on one apiece. With this in mind, the South Koreans and Brits have made the biggest gains, while the Japanese and Americans have dumped themselves in the mid-to-low table territory they really shouldn’t be bogged down in.

Japan is seeing only the quirky Suzuki Jimny and comparatively bland Honda Clarity go through to the Finals. Significantly, no Lexus, Nissan, Toyota or Subaru contenders made the cut. And that’s sad and bad for those firms, plus Japan PLC. Ford is the only American-based firm to get through, with just one model – the Focus – which is more of a European car, and one its maker will not sell (wrongly, I think) in its US homeland.

Who’d have thought it, eh? Little Britain boasting more World Car Finalists in 2019 than Japan and the US put together! More impressive still, South Korea has twice as many contenders on the shortlist as Japan and America combined.

None of this was in the script. The belligerent Brits and upstart Koreans aren’t supposed to be designing and building better, more desirable cars than the respected Japanese and confident Americans. But that’s exactly what they’re doing, and have been recognised as doing by the World Car jurors, whose numbers, incidentally, include yours truly, as well as Auto Express’s editor-in-chief, Steve Fowler.

To summarise, 2019 is the year when the Koreans have finally arrived on the world stage. At the same time, the Brits are back, taking on and often beating allegedly stronger rivals. Japan is down in the dumps, but will surely live to fight another day. The US continues its retreat into building trucks, pick-ups and utility vehicles for itself, rather than cars for the big, wide world. And that, God bless it, is where America has got it horribly wrong.

What do you make of Mike's claim that the UK car industry is still thriving? Let us know in the comments below...

Recommended

New Aston Martin AMR-C01 sim racing rig revealed
Aston Martin

New Aston Martin AMR-C01 sim racing rig revealed

Brand’s first venture into sim racing comes in the dramatic shape of a carbon-bodied rig running Assetto Corsa
14 Sep 2020
Aston Martin DB5 Goldfinger: specs, gadgets and review
Aston Martin

Aston Martin DB5 Goldfinger: specs, gadgets and review

We’re given a Q branch-style briefing on the £3.3million Aston Martin DB5 Goldfinger, and then we take if for a drive
9 Sep 2020
Bespoke Aston Martin Victor pays tribute to classic V8 Vantage
News

Bespoke Aston Martin Victor pays tribute to classic V8 Vantage

Aston Martin Victor is a 836bhp V12 manual supercar from the British firm's Q division, styled to look like the original V8 Vantage
4 Sep 2020
Aston Martin DB5 Junior is a £42,000, 40mph+ electric toy car 
Aston Martin

Aston Martin DB5 Junior is a £42,000, 40mph+ electric toy car 

Little Car Company and Aston Martin pair up to create DB5 Junior with up to 40 miles of range 
27 Aug 2020

Most Popular

Energy firms want the right to switch off electric cars charging at home
Electric cars

Energy firms want the right to switch off electric cars charging at home

New powers being sought to allow energy providers to turn off high-drain devices to manage electricity network
18 Sep 2020
Audi A3 vs Mercedes A-Class
Car group tests

Audi A3 vs Mercedes A-Class

The Audi A3 and Mercedes A-Class are strong competitors in the premium hatchback market - we find out which is best
19 Sep 2020
New Rolls-Royce Ghost 2020 review
Rolls-Royce Ghost

New Rolls-Royce Ghost 2020 review

The all-new luxury Rolls-Royce Ghost saloon brings new levels of refinement
18 Sep 2020