Best cars and industry heroes recognised in 2023 Autocar Awards

Ford UK managing director Lisa Brankin was recognised as an Outstanding UK Leader. A petrolhead with a real appreciation for the company’s most enthusiast-focused cars, she’s charged with keeping the manufacturer in the black as it negotiates the transition to EVs. 

Sytner Group boss Darren Edwards also won an Outstanding UK Leader award for his work in building the UK’s largest automotive retail group. It took a whopping $8.4 billion (£6.8bn) in revenue in 2022 from around 150 franchises, spanning Audi, BMW, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and Mercedes-Benz. 

Lord Bamford, owner and chairman of JCB, earned the Innovation Award through his company’s research into hydrogen powertrains for automotive applications. JCB has designed and built a zero-emissions, hydrogen-fuelled internal combustion engine in just two-and-a-half years. 

Matt Weaver, head of Nissan Design Europe, won the Design Hero award for his work shaping some of the world’s most recognisable cars. During his tenure, Nissan has conceptualised era-defining models including the Qashqai and Juke.

The Ferrari 296 GTB and Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS both achieved top marks when put under the microscope of the Autocar Road Test. 

The 296 GTB stood out for proving that electrifying a supercar isn’t an insurmountable obstacle but an opportunity to enhance the best characteristics of the class. Few cars are as intuitive to drive quickly, thanks to its smooth power delivery that never feels reckless.

The 718 Cayman GT4 RS, on the other hand, is the car that Porsche resisted making for so long, uncorking the tremendous potential of the mid-engined sports car by giving it a flat-six engine turned up to 11, clever aerodynamics and a lightened yet stiffened chassis. The result is a truly special performance car that’s likely to be remembered as one of the best of the breed for a long time to come. 

Porsche also received the title of Britain’s Best Driver’s Car for the 911 GT3, which became one of only four cars to have won the gong in consecutive years.

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