FORD SHINES AT AUSTRALIAN MOTORING AWARDS

THE AUSTRALIAN MOTORING AWARDS ATTRACTED A STAR-STUDDED CROWD, BUT FEW WORE BIGGER SMILES THAN THE FORD AUSTRALIA TEAM.

WORDS SEAN MUIR

It’s now set in stone, literally: the Ford Everest Trend has taken out the 4X4 Of The Year Award.

Ford Australia marketing director Lew Echlin was presented with the coveted sandstone 4X4OTY trophy at the inaugural Australian Motoring Awards (AMAs), held at Melbourne’s Crown Towers recently. Lew was just one of a few to stand tall before the AMAs’ 200-strong crowd, which included Formula One legend Mark Webber and national sports presenter Mark Beretta.

Taking turns holding the hefty, custom-made trophy, the Ford Australia team was clearly thrilled with the win, with this being the first time a Ford has won the award – and for a car developed and designed in Australia, no less.

One of seven 4X4OTY judges, 4X4 Editor Matt Raudonikis was especially impressed with the Everest, having seen first-hand the extensive development it underwent in outback locations such the Simpson Desert, where it proved its sand as a true 4x4.

“For the Everest to be a sales success alongside the likes of the Prado, which it was benchmarked against, it had to be able to conquer rugged terrain, as well as ferry families in the suburbs,” Matt said.

“During our five-day onand off-road test it became obvious the Everest Trend was a standout performer.”

The award is a boon for Ford, as the relatively unknown Everest faces an uphill battle against the likes of Toyota, which recently released an all-new and much-improved version of its Hilux, Australia’s best-selling 4x4 (see p26 for a closer look at 2015’s best sellers). The Everest will also battle the Toyota Fortuner, a wagon derivative of the Hilux ute. Both of these Toyotas were close runners up for 4X4OTY, along with the Toyota Prado, the Nissan Navara, and the Mitsubishi Triton. The finalists were judged on their value for money, innovation, durability, bushability and practicality. Testing took place at Melbourne’s top 4x4 proving ground and the Victorian High Country (see more on how the winner was decided at: www.4x4australia.com. au/4x4OTY2015).

Ford will no doubt leverage the award in future campaigns, which have in the past boldly compared the Ranger with the Hilux – the Everest is, after all, a wagon version of the Ranger, which sold an impressive 23,436 units in 2015. At the event dinner, the Ford Everest design crew said they had worked hard to strike a balance between rough and rugged capability, and sophistication.

Meanwhile, the AMAs also hosted the world’s longest continuously-running new-car award, the Wheels Car of the Year Award, which started way back in 1963, and is now in its 53rd year.

Mazda’s MX-5 convertible took out the Wheels award, while the Porsche 911 GT3 won MOTOR magazine’s Performance Car of the Year, and the Alfa Romeo 4C won the WhichCar Style Award.

Guests at the AMAs dined among hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of machinery.

Cars on display included the Audi Q7, BMW i8, Jaguar XE, Mazda CX-3, Mercedes-AMG GT and the Volkswagen Passat.

The Ford Everest Trend is priced at $60,990.