THE all-new Mazda3 has clinched the top title at the 2019 Scottish Car of the Year awards.
The head-turning newcomer, which debuts the company's highly efficient and innovative Skyactiv-X petrol powertrain, was a clear winner in its Family car class and then triumphed over the other category champions to take the top title.
Mazda has previously been extremely successful in category wins but this is just the second time in the award's 22-year history that the brand has scooped the overall honour.
Judged by the Association of Scottish Motoring Writers (ASMW) - which comprises of print, broadcast and online journalists covering the length and breadth of Scotland and beyond - the Mazda's advanced Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SCCI) petrol engine was a key factor in the model's appeal to the judging panel.
Presenting the award at Edinburgh's Dalmahoy Hotel and Country Club, ASMW President John Murdoch said: "Mazda's range has consistently appealed to buyers north of the border; the cars are great looking, well built and deliver a driving experience that's perfectly suited to Scottish roads.
"The new Mazda3 ups the game again. From its unmistakable sense of style to the sizeable leap forward in interior quality fit and finish and unrivalled real-world efficiency, it's a car that appeals to the heart and head.
"Both the Skyactiv-G petrol and Skyactiv-D diesel models impressed the judging panel when experienced on a lengthy driving route for the model's UK launch but the latest Skyactiv-X option is a revelation. This is a 178bhp 2.0-litre petrol car that really can deliver 50mpg economy. That's outstanding."
Mazda UK managing director, Jeremy Thomson said: "The all-new Mazda3 is already winning over customers with its quality, style and driver engagement, so recognition of its appeal from the Association of Scottish Motoring Writers is fantastic. In a year that has seen the launch of lots of great cars across many sectors, it's a real testament to the all-new Mazda3 that it's taken the coveted overall Car of the Year title.
"I'm also very excited about the acknowledgement of the Skyactiv-X engine; this is another example of Mazda's convention defying powertrain innovation. It offers our customers a truly unique blend of fuel economy, low emissions and performance from a petrol engine, I'm also sure Scottish customers will be pleased that we have, with the Skyactiv-X AWD Mazda3 hatch, added the all-weather security of a four-wheel drive car in this sector for the first time in decades."
He added: "It's great that this award honours the Mazda3 saloon, which is a stylish and distinctive compact executive saloon that will appeal to both fleet and private customers. Our 12 Scottish dealers do a fantastic job, so I'm also happy for them that the all-new Mazda3 has taken the most prestigious motoring award in the country."
The 2019 Scottish Car of the Year awards also delivered impressive results for Nissan, BMW, SEAT and Kia, with representatives from each of these brands leaving Scotland's capital city with two trophies.
Nissan's Micra and LEAF e+ were runaway winners in the Small and Alternative Fuel categories, securing a victory over premium contenders such as the Audi A1 and Range Rover Phev respectively.
For BMW, it was luxury and technology of its newest X5 and 7 Series models which wowed the jury enough to secure Premium Crossover and Luxury car awards for the Bavarian brand.
SEAT, meanwhile, showed strength in the Crossover segment with its Tarraco. The new arrival's quality and cabin space, which can seat up to seven, found favour with the judges while the thrilling performance-themed Cupra Ateca raised a few eyebrows by edging ahead of the establishment to secure the Sports car title.
Kia, a manufacturer which continues to prove popular north of the border thanks to it stylish products and industry-leading seven-year warranty, also achieved a strong SCOTY performance. The new ProCeed was named best Estate car while the Sportage scooped the Used prize for the second year running.
Across the other categories, it was a victory for Scandinavian style in the Executive class with Volvo's S60 being voted top of the class while the practicality and value of Peugeot's Rifter put the no-nonsense family holdall at the top of the MPV table.
Scotland's vast network of challenging B roads is perfectly suited to a Hot Hatch and the turbocharged ST-badged version of the current Focus easily powered to class success.
Vital to the businesses which they keep moving, Pick Up trucks continue to sell well across the country and the ASMW felt that in 2019 Mitsubishi's Series Six L200 combined business with pleasure better than the rest.
In the special Design and Innovation section, Audi took the award for its ground-breaking virtual mirror system on the electric e-tron.