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Awards 2009 - Manufacturer of the Year: BMW

Date: 27 January 2009

The Manufacturer of the Year accolade has traditionally been fiercely contested and this year was no different. Audi and Ford have both picked up the title in the past few years, but this time around it's BMW that's come good.

Whatever your mindset, whether it's finance-focussed or that of an enthusiastic driver, BMW delivers, and in the case of the 330d expertly satisfies both requirements in one package.

The six-cylinder diesel is capable of nearly 50mpg and sits four tax bands lower than its closest rival while offering a fantastic driving experience, 0 to 60mph sprint time of 6.1secs and a pedigree as impressive as a puppy at Crufts. It's no wonder we had no qualms awarding it a maximum 10/10 when we tested it in September last year.

As BMW's success in our first ever Green Initiative of the Year award shows (see opposite), however, there is much more to the brand than just the one car. As well as the facelift for the 3-series, 2008 saw the launch of the new 7-series luxury saloon, the large 4x4 X6, the powerful new M3 convertible and the smaller 1-series drop-top. This year is continuing in the same vein, with the new Z4, complete with folding hardtop, going on sale in May. The X1 concept, a small off-roader fitting in below the X3 in the range, is also expected to make it to production towards the end of this year.

BMW will be hoping these new cars and the existing models will inspire more sales success for the next year. BMW's year-to-date fleet sales were 4.9% up in 2008 on the previous year, with its market share up to 5.1% from 4.5%. Much of this is built on the 1-series, which has seen a 22.6% boost over the previous 12 months. Considering overall market sales are 7.1% down, the premium German brand is more than comfortably bucking the trend.

Despite this, BMW cannot afford to rest on its laurels. Audi might have relinquished its grip on the Manufacturer of the Year title, but it was a fight to the line and the fellow German prestige brand grabbed the highly commended spot. Last year saw additions or amendments to the A3, A4, A5, A6, TT, and Q7 ranges as well as the arrival of the small off-roader the Q5. This year promises more bodystyles, engines and determination from the company.

Highly commended: Audi