Anniversary Awards – Auto Express, evo and Octane

We celebrate 30 years of Auto Express, 20 years of evo and 15 years of Octane with our special Anniversary Awards

2018 marks not only 30 years of Auto Express, but also 20 years of evo and 15 years of Octane. That’s why we’re celebrating these milestones with a series of very special Anniversary Awards.

Each brand has presented three awards, recognising the cars, companies and people that have shaped their respective eras in automotive publishing. Below you’ll find details of the Anniversary Award winners chosen by the editorial teams of each brand…

Auto Express 30th Anniversary Awards

Nissan Qashqai: Car of the Past 30 Years

“We want something new, something different…especially when it comes to cars.” Those were the words uttered by Nissan’s then-product boss Carlos Tavares as the original Qashqai was launched to the unsuspecting public.

Here was a car that offered all the practicality of a conventional compact SUV, but with a footprint the same as the contemporary Ford Focus. The Nissan Qashqai not so much tore up the rulebook, but sent it into oblivion. Replacing the Almera hatchback, the Qashqai ripped the SUV market wide open, creating a new segment – and we’ve not looked back since.

Nissan Qashqai 2017 review

When we first drove the Qashqai in Issue 944, way back in 2007, we said it offers “greater space than a regular hatchback, but [is] more comfortable and manoeuvrable than an SUV, the Qashqai really is the best of both worlds”. When we tested it a month later, it beat the Volkswagen Golf, Kia Sportage and Dodge Caliber – a diverse group of models that underlines what a groundbreaking concept the Qashqai was.

Fast forward a decade, and the three millionth Qashqai rolled off the Sunderland production line. It’s the most successful model in Europe in Nissan history.

It’s not hard to understand why. It’s grown along with the market, but remains the yardstick by which all family-friendly SUVs are still judged. Today’s model, fresh from a recent facelift, now offers a range of market-leading technology, such as Nissan’s ProPilot semi-autonomous technology, as well as punchy and efficient engines and handsome styling.

Matthew Weaver, European Design Director at Infiniti and Nissan, said: “The Qashqai is a pioneering design that created the crossover segment and has since transformed expectations of what a European family car should be. Combining the space and packaging efficiency of the traditional hatchback with the high driving position and premium looks of an SUV, Qashqai introduced fresh new thinking to the sector and captured the imagination of car buyers. Designed, engineered and built in the UK, Qashqai’s design has been so influential that the crossover is now the most popular body type in Europe.”

Kia: Company of the Past 30 Years

The automotive industry is what academics might call mature. There’s a known cycle of product launches and brands are well defined. So it takes a rather special organisation to launch as an unashamedly budget brand, then turn itself into a genuinely desirable marque – with a warranty that still leads the market.

In less than 30 years, Kia has grown from a small import business to a mainstream player in the UK. It has transformed its product line-up from the cheap and cheerful Pride, to encompassing fabulous SUVs and a sports saloon to rattle the premium establishment.

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And owners love them: two Kias featured in the top 10 models in this year’s Driver Power satisfaction survey, and the Niro was rated best small SUV to own.

Buyers love the reassurance of Kia’s market-leading, seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty, too. And the importance of appointing former Audi design chief Peter Schreyer as chief design officer in 2006 can’t be overstated.

Paul Philpott, President and Chief Executive at Kia Motors (UK) Limited, said: “It is extremely flattering to receive this accolade. As Auto Express was being established, Kia was facing down the barrel of bankruptcy in Korea due to the Asian economic crisis. But by determination and a commitment to following a path towards reliability and quality it survived and has grown consistently ever since.

“The true challenge has been to move the Kia brand from the lowlands of ‘budget-brand’ to the current heights of stylish, aspirational, quality mainstream with some exceptional products such as the Stinger gran turismo showing just where our technological, engineering and dynamic ambitions lie. Delivering advanced quality products to a growing customer base demands consistency and commitment and in every part of the organisation there is a shared hunger to change perceptions about Kia and to exceed the expectations of those motorists who put their trust in us.”

Andy Palmer: Person of the Past 30 Years

Andy Palmer is no stranger to the pages of Auto Express. In 2012 he was the first number one in the annual Auto Express Brit List, receiving a place in the Auto Express Hall of Fame as a result. Since then, he has arguably gone on to even greater things as the President and CEO of Aston Martin, reviving and repositioning the British brand as the maker of beautiful, luxurious sporting cars that are the envy of the world.

With his work at Nissan in helping to shape cars like the Qashqai and Leaf, plus his work at Aston Martin, he was the clear choice when it came to recognising the individual who has made the biggest impact over the 30 years Auto Express has been published.

New Aston Martin DBS Superleggera revealed

Palmer’s career started out as an engineering student before moving on to Austin Rover. There he worked on everything from the Mini to the Rover/Honda relationship, before joining Nissan in 1991. Over the next 23 years, he had responsibility for all of Nissan’s product development and marketing, as well as for luxury brand Infiniti.

It had to be something very special to tear him away, and it was – the offer to head up one of the great automotive brands: Aston Martin. In just over four years, he’s transformed its product line-up into a group of world beaters with exciting plans for an SUV, electrification, UK manufacturing, the revival of Lagonda and motorsport success including the potential for Aston Martin entering Formula One. Most importantly, Aston Martin is back in the black and profitable.

Palmer himself is humble enough to stress that it’s all been a team effort, both at Nissan and Aston. But every team needs a leader and Palmer is a man, an engineer, who leads from the front with a combination of intelligence, astuteness and humility that has made him the most influential person in the motor industry over the past 30 years.

evo 20th Anniversary Awards

Porsche 997.2 GT3 RS: evo Car of the Past 20 Years

Over the past 20 years, evo has tested thousands of cars over millions of miles. The car that has inspired and thrilled more than any other, and became a defining moment was the Porsche 911 (997.2) GT3 RS. It has a manual gearbox, hydraulic steering and a naturally aspirated engine. It has few driver aids or creature comforts and rewards and excites any driver of any ability. So while evo looks forward to what tomorrow has to bring, it’s still the 997.2-generation GT3 RS that stands head and shoulders above everything else when it comes to delivering on evo’s thrill of driving ethos.

Renault Sport: evo Company of the Past 20 Years

The evo company of the past twenty years is one that has not only built some of the most exciting cars our road testers have driven, but cars that have also gone on to become firm favourites among our readers, too. Each new model has been greeted with the same eager anticipation as its revered predecessor. What makes Renault Sport a standout company for evo is how it responds to new rivals and feedback from evo and its readers. Where others would consider throwing in the towel, Renault Sport accepts every challenge to continually improve its range of superminis and hot hatches and deliver the strongest competitor to the latest challenger.

Tobias Moers: evo Person of the Past 20 Years

In the past two decades Mercedes-AMG has evolved from a company producing a few capable sports cars to a powerhouse building an unprecedented range of class leaders from hot hatches to supersaloons to supercars and pretty much everything in between. In early 2019 it will go one step further and launch a hypercar that transfers all it has learnt from its four Formula 1 world championships into a road car. Behind this success is a hugely talented team, but in this instance there is also one man who has been an ever present and the driving force behind them all: Mercedes-AMG CEO Tobias Moers.

Octane 15th Anniversary Awards

Octane car of the past 15 years

The word barnfind is so overused nowadays that its meaning has become sadly diluted. While it conjures images of dusty Auto Unions smuggled to the west from behind the iron curtain, or long-lost treasures stumbled across by motoring archaeologists, in 99 per cent of cases today it is more likely to be applied to a broken Mk3 Escort on eBay. Thankfully the 1 per cent still exist and the bringing to market of the Baillon Collection by auction house Artcurial in 2015 was a century’s worth in one hit: 100 cars stashed away for decades on the remote estate of a French shipping magnate. Many were rare or valuable, but nothing could hold a candle to the 1961 Ferrari 250GT California Spider, one of the rarest and most desirable cars ever built and without question the car of the past 15 years. It needed a visionary to take it on and it got one.

Octane Company of the past 15 years

Classic Motor Cars of Bridgnorth was established in 1993 with the ambition of offering no-compromise restorations that never fell short of perfection. The huge number of trophies that the company’s work has since won across the globe bears witness to that goal being achieved. As well as adding a formidable sales element to the business, CMC now occupies 60,000sq ft of premises, but what really makes this winner stand out are two innovations:  the launch of its industry-leading apprenticeship scheme in 2015 to preserve for future generations the unique skills required to work on classic and vintage cars, plus its status since 2016 as a an Employee Owned Trust, Chairman (and renowned classic car collector) Peter Neumark having transferred his majority shareholding into a trust benefiting the staff.

Octane person of the past 15 years

While The Duke of Richmond founded his two highest-profile motoring events more than 15 years ago, he has not rested on his laurels and every innovation that Goodwood pioneers still causes seismic shifts in the motoring entertainment industry. The Festival of Speed and the Revival Meeting are both now sell-outs limited to advance ticket sales only and attracting 150,000-plus visitors. World renowned for its ever-more extravagant central sculptures by Gerry Judah, the Festival has since 2010 incorporated the groundbreaking Moving Motor Show and there have also been changes at the Motor Circuit where the Revival Meeting has changed the face of historic motorsport forever from 1998. In 2014, The Duke of Richmond brought back to life the Goodwood Members’ Meeting, a tradition that had originally died out in 1966. Created for the members of the Goodwood Road Racing Club, it is a more intimate and enthusiast-led event that reminds many of the early days of the Festival and Revival.

Auto Express New Car Awards 2018

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