Volvo named Car Tech Brand of the Year
Volvo has been crowned Car Tech Brand of the Year for the second time, in the Car Tech Awards 2018. The awards also named the Volkswagen Golf as Most Innovative Car, with judges agreeing it’s the best tech all-rounder currently on sale.
The awards, announced earlier today by Carbuyer and its sister technology title Alphr.com, marked the culmination of months of testing and analysis of the best new in-car technology launched over the last year.
An expert panel of judges, including Carbuyer editor-in-chief Steve Fowler, Carbuyer editor Stuart Milne and Alphr reviews editor Jon Bray, put the latest models and their tech through a series of rigorous and real-world tests.
Our judges then cut through the jargon to rate the most advanced, cost-effective and relevant car technology on the market today.
Carbuyer editor Stuart Milne said: “It’s clear that car manufacturers are investing ever-larger sums to take the lead when it comes to in-car technology. Our testing revealed a huge leap in quality and functionality over the last 12 months across the board.
“It’s not just more expensive models from premium brands that are benefitting, either. We were seriously impressed with some of the more affordable models tested.”
The Car Tech Awards judges tested dozens of new and recently revised cars across areas as diverse as audio quality, ease of use, connectivity, sat-nav and autonomous driving features. Additionally, awards were given for the cleverest safety innovation, plus innovation in electric vehicles.
Car technology brand of the year – Volvo
Volvo’s success in the Car Tech Awards is remarkable. The company scooped Car Technology Brand of the Year for the second year in succession. Our judges were impressed by the way Volvo refuses to rest on its laurels, developing a series of products and philosophies that build on its Vision 2020 plan that no-one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020.
These include its commitment to stop producing cars powered solely by petrol or diesel by 2019 – a scheme recognised by the United Nations – as well as the launch of an evasive steering system in its new XC60 and forging a close relationship with Google to develop better-connected cars. This is in addition to the continual and incremental improvement in new car technology that all customers can enjoy.
Most innovative car – Volkswagen Golf
As a masterclass in well-judged technology that’s relevant, helpful and well priced, the Volkswagen Golf is impossible to fault. It was rated highly in every section tested. All the Golf’s systems are easy to use, the sat nav is wonderfully clear – particularly on models with the brilliant Active Info Display digital readout – and its autonomous features are up there with the best. What really impressed was the way the Golf democratises these ‘big-car’ features in a relatively affordable and very desirable package, which is why we’ve named it as the most innovative car.
Innovation in electric vehicles
Electric vehicles are more in the public consciousness than ever before and no mainstream manufacturer is doing more to grow the market and infrastructure than Nissan. The winner of our Innovation in EVs award not only builds the world’s best-selling electric car, but its wider thinking is remarkable. It’s planning a 20% increase in outdoor charging points in Europe, readying the second-generation Nissan Leaf and, perhaps most interestingly, working on bi-directional charging.
This clever system allows Leaf owners to draw power from the grid to charge their car and sell power back to the grid at peak times for others to use. This mass energy storage system could smooth out peaks and troughs in power delivery and could result in owners generating around £350 a year, a sum that could effectively make an EV free to run.
Highly commended: Tesla
Tesla has done more to drive awareness of electric vehicles than any other brand. Through searing performance, over-the-air software updates and a radically designed interior with a massive tablet-style touchscreen, Tesla has delivered the future, today. We’ve awarded the California-based firm a Highly Commended award for Innovation in EVs because of the breadth of Tesla’ ambitions, including its all-electric lorry, Powerwall (a combination of solar panels and storage batteries) and next-generation solar panels.
Best safety innovation – Volvo XC60, Steering Support
It should come as little surprise that a brand so closely associated with safety should take our Best Safety Technology award. The new Steering Support system is a development of the firm’s City Safety system. In situations where braking alone won’t avoid a collision, the XC60 is able to take charge of steering. With the system, Volvo claims a 45% reduction in rear-end frontal crashes.
Most user-friendly tech
Winner: Kia Picanto
Proving once and for all that clever and well-judged technology isn’t the preserve of expensive models, the Kia Picanto is startlingly easy to use. It takes our most user-friendly tech award – our judges were bowled over by the superb responsiveness of the colour touchscreen, while we found the organisation and positioning of the menus shames cars costing three times as much. It has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility – and all these features are available on the mid-range 3 and GT-Line S trims. The fact that the Picanto also has physical buttons for the most frequently used functions sealed the deal.
Highly commended: BMW 5 Series
BMW has led the infotainment revolution with its iDrive system since 2001 and the current iteration has been highly commended in our most user-friendly tech category. We were seriously impressed by the crisp, readable graphics on the 5 Series’ screen and digital cockpit display. The whole system is easy to use through a combination of the car’s super-responsive touchscreen and intuitive control wheel. The voice control system is among the best on the market, too.
Winner: Volvo XC60
The new Volvo XC60’s satnav is as stunning to look at is it is easy to use. Its display is a model of clarity and uses the same stunning, efficient design the brand is fast becoming synonymous with. It’s not style over substance, though. The large screen makes destinations easy to input, and efficient and accurate routes are displayed. The whole system is responsive, simple to use and sets a new benchmark.
Highly commended: Peugeot 3008
The Peugeot 3008’s satnav is a masterclass in clarity and ease of use. It’s quick and easy to operate and boasts all the functions you’d expect, including autocomplete suggestions, much like a smartphone. The screen is well positioned, but what seals the deal is the 3008’s lovely i-Cockpit display screen. The screen, fitted as standard in place of physical dials, sports crisp graphics that can be tailored according to your mood. The mapping is also wonderfully clear, with simple and concise turn instructions.
Innovation in connectivity
Winner: Mercedes E-Class
When it comes to in-car connectivity, the Mercedes E-Class is simply unbeatable. There’s little that it won’t connect with, and when it does, it offers a superb user experience. It offers the full suite of functions through Bluetooth audio streaming, along with 4G connectivity, and allows users to operate Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with ease. The whole experience is made all the easier when the optional second display screen is chosen – and it’s such a good system, it’s an option box ticked by almost every buyer.
Highly commended: Volvo XC60
Our judges were hugely impressed by the XC60’s in-car connectivity features, awarding it a Highly Commended accolade, thanks to a wide range of options aided by a large 9in touchscreen.
Best in-car audio
Winner: BMW 5 Series, Bowers & Wilkins Diamond
There was a clear winner in our best in-car audio category. The sensational Bowers & Wilkins Diamond surround-sound system fitted to the 5 Series offers staggering sound quality. Our judges found the mid-bass response to be controlled and accurate, with forward-sounding and accurate mid-tones, while the highs had excellent extension and sparkle. The optional £3,750 system was judged to have a “very nice soundstage, excellent instrument separation with good tonality and imaging”.
Highly commended: Ford Fiesta, B&O Play
When it comes to sheer value for money, it’s impossible to ignore the new Ford Fiesta’s B&O Play audio upgrade. The upgrade costs just £300, or £600 when combined with Ford’s Sync 3 navigation system, making it a must-have option. It packs a huge punch when it comes to outright volume and the low frequencies sound superb. It all combines to deliver an excellent listening experience.