SGMW member David Wilkins presents Suzuki Press Officer Jess Grimditch with the ‘Dark Horse of the Year’ award for the Jimny

How Suzuki’s ‘dark horse’ romped home in key race for SGMW annual awards

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Suzuki’s new Jimny off-roader was an unexpected winner with members of the Southern Group of Motoring Writers – exactly what’s needed to earn the Group’s ‘Dark Horse of the Year’ award.

That trophy for “a car that surprised SGMW members, either by its arrival or just how good it was” had become one of the most fiercely contested races in the SGMW’s New Year Honours List 2019, with a strong challenge from the “charismatic” Peugeot 508 as runner-up, plus spirited chases from the lively Volkswagen up! GTI and innovative Jaguar I-PACE.

But Suzuki’s baby off-roader was memorably described as “So, so cool” in the final assessment and romped home on its knobbly little tyres.

The brand’s ever-affable UK PR chief Alun Parry said: “We are obviously delighted with this accolade for our latest model. We know we have a great new product, but it’s good to have this trophy to highlight how much it has impressed members of the SGMW, especially after 12 months when so many other models have arrived on the UK motor market.

“We know from feedback at the launch event that, as ever, they were impressed by the Jimny model’s value plus ability pitch, but the new car was also widely praised for delivering good fun too.”

Alun wasn’t available to receive the award, but it was fitting that his No2, Press Officer Jess Grimditch – winner of ‘Best PR Newcomer’ at last year’s inaugural SGMW New Year Honours awards – was able to accept the trophy instead from SGMW member David Wilkins at Suzuki’s UK HQ in Milton Keynes.

SGMW chairman Ian Robertson added his congratulations: “Suzuki has done a superb job with the Jimny in re-forging one of the best – and surely one of the most compact – 4x4s on the market without sacrificing its off-roading clout and keen pricing, while injecting yet more enjoyment into the driving experience.

“The Jimny also echoes Suzuki’s own status in the UK: it might not be the biggest brand here but it definitely punches well above its weight.”

The other six SGMW New Year Honours List 2019 award winners were:

Best PR Newcomer – awarded to someone who made a special impact in his or her liaison with the media during the past year and is either new to the industry PR scene or has taken on a new role/position. WINNER: John O’Brien – Honda Press Fleet Officer

The SGMW OBE (Operating Beyond Expectation) – awarded to anyone acting above and beyond the call of PR duty during the past year. It can be for consistent high performance, memorable one-off effort, or a thoughtful gesture towards one of our members caught in a bind. WINNER: Simon Branney – Honda PR Communications Manager (Cars)

Best PR Office – awarded to the operation consistently delivering the best all-round or forward-thinking service to SGMW throughout the year. WINNER: Kia

Best in PR Innovation – awarded for an unusual or particularly excellent launch, driving route, or any imaginative addition to an event of the PR year in general. WINNER: Vauxhall (particularly for its Heritage Fleet)

One to Watch 2019 – the car that SGMW members most look forward to driving in the coming year. WINNER: Honda Urban EV

SGMW Car of the Year. WINNER: Hyundai Kona Electric

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