It is undoubtedly an opportune moment to acknowledge the best in India's automotive industry what with the bi-annual Auto Expo generating much heat in the cold climes of Delhi. The Golden Steering Wheel Awards 2012 did exactly that on a windy Friday evening at Hotel Grand in the Capital where the creme de la creme of the automobile sector jostled for space under the shining chandeliers and blinding flashbulbs.
Organised by Auto Bild India and Carwale, the third edition of the prestigious awards recognised vehicles across ten categories which included jury as well as consumer choice awards. The jury comprised nine experts including - Vitoldas Milius, the editor-in-chief of Auto Bild Lithuania, Auto Bild India editor Yogendra Pratap, Chennai racer Aditya Patel, rally driver Gaurav Gill, auto expert Tutu Dhawan among others who tested the shortlisted cars and bikes to come up with the winning list.
That list was topped by Mahindra whose XUV 500 won awards in two categories viz SUV/UV 2011 Award and the Viewer's Choice Award where the viewers of Headlines Today and Aaj Tak polled for their favourite set of hot wheels.
"We won two awards so we are doubly happy. This vindicates our strategy of driving growth through innovation which the customer wants," said Vivek Nayer, Sr Vice-President, Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd.
Mahindra's double honours surprised Yogendra Pratap who expected the XUV to win viewers' choice award hands-down. "I did not expect the XUV 500 to win the jury's choice award. The BMW X3 was close but the online votes made a difference and swung the stakes in Mahindra's favour," the Auto Bild India editor said.
Elaborating on the concept behind the awards, Pratap said it was a way for buyers to zero down upon the best in the market.
"Golden Steering Wheel is a pan-European award which takes place in Germany every year. Auto Bild has editions in over 20 countries in Europe and readers vote for top five in each category launched in that particular year. There is also an expert jury that test drives the vehicles on the track. We also had people voting online and it influenced the final winners. The idea is to identify, recognise and applaud the best cars in each segment," he said.
The award was instituted by Axel Springer, Auto Bild's parent company, way back in 1976 in Germany.
The cars were judged on the basis of exterior and interior designs, driving pleasure, seating comfort, space, operability, all-round visibility, flexibility and storage.