Best cars and industry heroes recognised in 2023 Autocar Awards

Open gallery Close News by Autocar 5 mins read 25 April 2023 Follow @@autocar Share

The Duke of Richmond has been given Autocar’s most prestigious award, the Issigonis Trophy, in recognition of his contributions to the automotive industry at the 2023 Autocar Awards, which celebrates the best new cars and the industry’s highest achievers.

The trophy, named after Mini inventor Sir Alec Issigonis, is awarded to individuals who have made a historically significant contribution to one of the world’s largest industries.

The duke’s mission to reopen the Goodwood Motor Circuit in the 1990s spawned the annual Festival of Speed event, which first ran in 1993. It has since become a linchpin of not only the British automotive calendar but the global automotive industry, giving car makers and enthusiasts a unique opportunity to celebrate both their heritage and future at a single event.

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The bumper, 100-page Autocar Awards issue currently on sale. Pick up a copy for the full stories on each of the people winning our Awards.

Autocar has also recognised the innovation and achievement of Denis Le Vot, CEO of Dacia, with the Sturmey Award, given to resourceful, high-achieving, self-made innovators. Under Le Vot, Dacia has become one of Europe’s best-sellers, thanks to its common-sense approach, resisting the technology – and price – creep to which many mainstream manufacturers have succumbed.

The Editor’s Award went to Kia UK president and CEO Paul Philpott. Since joining the Korean manufacturer in 2006, he has helped to transform it into one of the best-regarded in the industry – as evidenced by it breaking the 100,000 annual sales barrier in the UK last year. 

There was further success for Kia, it being awarded the Best Manufacturer Award.

Former Le Mans-winning racer and current Bugatti test driver Andy Wallace won the Lifetime Achievement award for his consistent talent across the decades and his unflappable nature at 300mph, plus his humility and his role as an ambassador for the brand’s hypercars.

The Mundy Award for Engineering went to Tim Woolmer, founder of Yasa, for his work on developing axial flux electric motors that are more powerful, compact and lighter than the conventional radial flux design. Woolmer’s motors have already been deployed in the Ferrari 296 GTB and SF90 Stradale, plus the McLaren Artura, and have proved so successful that Mercedes-Benz bought his company.

Red Bull Racing technical director Adrian Newey took home the Motorsport Award for his adaptability to ever-changing Formula 1 regulations, enjoying four decades of success through to today’s Red Bull RB19.

Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Mülller-Ötvös won the Outstanding Leader Award for taking the marque to new heights, its customers spending an average of €500,000 per year in 2022. He has also overseen the launch of the Spectre, Rolls-Royce’s first electric car.


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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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