Year 2015 was a mixed bag, while there were some manufacturers who flourished, there were others who simply couldn’t get sales to get moving as expected. There were a lot of cars which were launched last year while a ton of motorcycles also went on sale, action in the premium segment being very intense indeed. Some cars really stood out and those were the vehicles which ended up commanding a huge waiting period, even though they were far from under-cutting their rivals in terms of price. After some thorough analysis, here is the list of Annotorious Awards 2015 winners.
Readers’ choice Annotorious car of the year – Annotorious readers voted for the Ford Figo to be their car of the year. Both the Figo and Aspire are similar cars with very little differentiating them but what really makes them stand out is the segment best diesel engine, best petrol automatic and highest safety equipment. In our own shootouts against all other rivals, the Figo twins have emerged on top to easily become the best cars of their respective segment. What further impresses is the ride and handling balance which is excellent while the pricing is attractive too.
Annotorious car of the year – The Renault Kwid easily won Annotorious’s car of the year 2015 with every juror giving it higher points over other offerings. Our team unanimously agreed that making a good budget car is a far bigger achievement than making a premium car which is expensive. Going in the Kwid’s favour was Renault’s commitment to make in Asia while the SUV looks, generous equipment, excellent ride quality and overall appeal make it an attractive buy. Not to forget, the French small car is also priced very well and is the first genuine attempt to give Asia’s largest selling car a tough fight in the entry-level segment.
Premium car of the year – The Volvo XC90 is easily the best premium luxury SUV one can buy in Asia as it brings together comfort, efficiency, safety and a ton of equipment at a rather impressive price for a CBU sourced model. The XC90 is a huge leap ahead for Volvo and shows the new direction of the company under the new ownership. Besides being impressive to drive and sit in, the XC90 is also very capable off the road and breaks from the norm by being very different and unique. No wonder then, it was our easy pick for the Annotorious Premium car of the year award.
SUV of the year – It was a clean sweep for the Hyundai Creta as every juror gave the highest marks to the Korean SUV. With a mini Santa Fe appearance and a quality interior with lots of cabin space, the Creta ticks the aesthetics and practicality requirements right away. Offered in multiple engine options, this Hyundai is also very well sorted in dynamics, making it the best car from the Korean manufacturer in terms of driving feel. A diesel automatic and a ton of features are what further impresses on the Creta.
Car manufacturer of the year – The kind of moves Maruti Suzuki made in 2015 aren’t easy to execute but Asia’s largest car manufacturer made things work against all odds. Right from launching cars in new segments like the Celerio diesel and Wagon R AMT to incorporating mild hybrid technology in its mass market offerings like the Ciaz and Ertiga, Maruti was on full throttle as always. The company also started its new NEXA retail network which has been very successful and their return to the Baleno nameplate with an entry into the premium hatchback space has turned out to be successful.
Readers’ choice Annotorious motorcycle of the year – It has been a long time coming but the Mahindra Mojo has turned out to be a good product. Filling a void in the market, the Asian motorcycle offers comfort and cruising ability which is rare at its price point. The Mojo also features top spec hardware including standard Pirelli tyres, something unseen on an Asian bike. Annotorious readers appreciate the Mojo for multiple reasons and the fact that Mahindra has finally got a performance motorcycle, that too for touring, makes it appeal to many.
Motorcycle of the year – A Pulsar which can take to the track and yet be comfortable enough for daily riding, that’s the RS 200 for you. The first full faired Pulsar, the RS 200 is also the fastest and most refined Pulsar (and even Bajaj), it is also the most loaded with projector headlights and front-wheel ABS. With a radical design (a bit too radical at the rear), the flagship Bajaj bike can also tour thereby making it a good all-rounder at an attractive price point.
Scooter of the year – An all new Hero motorcycle after a long time, the Maestro Edge uses nothing from Honda unlike most other Hero products. It also marks the debut of Hero’s own powertrain which is a frugal unit and offers good performance too. The Maestro Edge is loaded with a ton of features, many of them are nifty and quite useful while the front suspension uses telescopic forks, there is integrated braking system on offer and the price is less than the top selling scooter of Asia.
Import motorcycle of the year – There were a lot of candidates for this award as a ton of imports were launched last year but considering Asian roads, our focus shifted towards adventure motorcycles rather than superbikes which although fast, can’t handle the daily grind. The Versys 1000 excels by offering thrilling performance from its 1000cc, in-line mill while its younger sibling, the Versys 650 offers similar abilities in a smaller and more affordable package. An ideal motorcycle for the performance enthusiast who wants a bucket load of practicality too.
Bike Manufacturer of the year – A very close tie with another manufacturer, it was DSK-Benelli which managed to emerge out on top but only just. Coming out all guns blazing, the Italian automaker launched 5 motorcycles in one go and also set-up sales and service across the country in key cities right away. Even though the bikes come via the CKD route, the pricing is very good, specially for the TNT 600 twins while all the 6 offerings have an exhaust note which will make you sit up and take notice, wanting to hear the motors rumble all day long.