Scottish awards highlight change in car tastes

You may have noticed a distinctly Scottish feel to the online magazine today, and it’s all down to the 2011 Scottish Car of the Year Awards.

The team of motoring experts saw fit to name the Kia Sportage Car of the Year 2011 – and it must have made quite an impression considering it has only be available to buy for a week (although limited first edition models have been available for longer).

We’ve also reported on deserved victories for the hugely impressive Jaguar XJ and the double award for two Seat Leon variations.

The Seat Leon E Ecomotive and Seat Leon Cupra R may sit at opposite ends of the Seat range, but it can be seen as an indication of the quality of the new family hatchback that it picked up two tightly-contested awards.

Elsewhere, Peugeot enjoyed a good day, taking the MPV award for the 5008 people carrier and finishing runner up to the Skoda Superb in the family car sector.

There were wins for the Suzuki Swift, Audi R8 Spyder, BMW 530d and Volvo S60 as well, while the Jaguar XJ just missed out on a second award for Diesel Car of the Year.

We were sad to see the Citroen DS3 only finish second in the small car category, but the small, more premium supermini deservedly got a mention from the judges for its style and high level of equipment.

As John Murdoch, President of the Association of Scottish Motoring Writers, said: “Despite tough times in the motoring industry, some truly excellent new cars are still being launched and manufacturers are responding well to the the many challenges they currently face."

We couldn’t agree more, and it says something when the likes of the superb new Vauxhall Meriva, Alfa Romeo Giulietta and Fiat 500 TwinAir don’t even get a look in.

Interestingly, the Kia Sportage won the overall title, following on from another SUV winner in 2009, the Land Rover Discovery 4.

While the Scots may be embracing SUVs and now crossover concepts, the latest Society of Motoring Manufacturers and Trader’s sales figures show a different story.

Small cars dominate the sales figures for Scotland, and contrary to the awards, Vauxhall is the dominant manufacturer.

The Corsa and Astra sit in first and second spot respectively and the Zafira and Insignia finished eight and tenth in the rankings.

Other small cars included the Renault Clio in third and the Ford Fiesta in fourth place. However, there was a place in the top ten for the Nissan Qashqai – perhaps an indication buyers tastes are moving more towards SUVs and crossovers to cope with the rugged terrain and poorer weather.

Either way, the awards and sales figures show us not only a excellent cars still being released into the UK market, buyers are prepared to buy something new, bolder and exciting if the quality is there.

Congratulations Kia, and we’ll look forward to next year to see which manufacturer can take home the title in 2011.