Contenders from Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Volkswagen claimed category honours at the 2019 Fleet Car Awards in association with easytrip.
The annual awards which have been running since 2012 recognise the best and most relevant cars on sale for corporate and fleet buyers in Ireland today.
A shortlist of 25 contenders, selected from an original long-list of over 300 cars were individually assessed by the panel of judges, comprising fleet buyers, vehicle leasing professionals, road safety experts and experienced motoring journalists, before votes were cast to determine winners in six separate categories.
This year’s awards included three categories for alternatively fuelled vehicles, recognising the increasing importance of such cars to corporate buyers. The best Hybrid, Electric and Electric – Executive cars on sale today were individually recognised, as well as the best contenders in the traditional C-Segment, D-Segment and Premium / Executive categories.
Fleet Car of the Year 2019 – C-Segment: Winner – Honda Civic
The addition of a diesel engine option as well as a saloon version helped Honda to retain the C-Segment crown it won in 2018 with the Civic.
Judges noted the Civic for its spaciousness, driving dynamics and generous specification as well as the extensive range of safety equipment.
The Ford Focus was runner-up in this category in 2019, with the Škoda Karoq claiming the final podium position.
Fleet Car of the Year 2019 – D-Segment: Winner – Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Winner of the Premium category in 2018, a realignment of the categories saw the recently face-lifted C-Class once again come out on top in a very competitive field.
A smooth and efficient diesel engine combined with what was regarded as one of the best cabins for design and comfort were instrumental in the C-Class winning the category. Ride and handling, the infotainment system and strong brand image were also considered strong points.
The Volvo XC40 was ranked in second place in the D-Segment, with the Mazda6 finishing third.
Fleet Car of the Year 2019 – Premium / Executive: Winner –Volkswagen Touareg
For the busy executive looking for the ultimate in corporate travel, the Volkswagen Touareg was considered by the judging panel to be the vehicle of choice.
The Touareg garnered praise from the judges for its infotainment system and easy to use controls, its refinement, practicality, its solidity on the road, and its build quality.
It narrowly edged out the latest generation Audi A6 into second place, while the Mercedes-Benz CLS was ranked third by the judging panel.
Fleet Car of the Year 2019 – Green Fleet – Hybrid: Winner – Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Toyota’s commitment to hybrid technology is second to none, and the Japanese manufacturer’s latest RAV4 Hybrid offering impressed judges on a number of fronts in winning the category.
These included its stylish looks and design, the infotainment system and the smoothness and efficiency of the hybrid system.
The Ford Mondeo HEV was runner-up in this category with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV in third position.
Fleet Car of the Year 2019 – Green Fleet – Electric: Winner – Hyundai Kona Electric
With electric cars priced under €50,000 now able to benefit from 0% Benefit In Kind (BIK) taxation for company car drivers, this has led to a huge surge in interest from the corporate sector.
The class-leading driving range of up to 449km was a key factor in judges presenting the award to the Hyundai Kona Electric, but the compact SUV impressed in other aspects as well, notably the impressive performance and power delivery, its price, refinement and the driving position. Good space for the size of the car was also noted.
Runner-up in this category for 2019 was the Volkswagen e-Golf ahead of the BMW i3.
Fleet Car of the Year 2019 – Green Fleet – Electric – Executive: Winner – Jaguar I-Pace
That the Jaguar I-Pace achieved the highest individual score by some distance of any of the 25 shortlisted contenders was a reflection that all-electric cars have very much entered the mainstream in 2019.
The driving range of up to 470km was just one of the areas highlighted by the judges who were also impressed by the stylish design – both exterior and interior, the advanced driver assistance technology, and how the I-Pace performed over poor surfaces.
“The cars that made this year’s shortlist of the Fleet Car Awards 2019 in association with easytripreflect how the fleet market is evolving, with a varied selection of excellent products across all categories,” said Cathal Doyle, Deputy Editor of Fleet Car Magazine. “In particular the past year has seen the hybrid and electric segments expand hugely, to the extent that these cars are becoming a realistic alternative to the traditional diesel for many users. While the 0% BIK incentive on electric cars is certainly welcome, the Government now needs to further encourage the fleet market to look at alternatives to diesel by allowing VAT to be reclaimed back for business usage on petrol and hybrid cars.”