Scotland and Norway featured as perfect driving destinations in the winning entries for the Midland Group of Motoring Writers’ 2017 award in memory of a member who mixed cars and countries for a living.

Outright winner this year is 14-year-old Dan Walls, from Bletsoe in Bedfordshire (pictured left with Ian Donaldson, MGMW chairman), who imagined driving a powerful Bentley Bentayga into the Highlands of Scotland. Winner Dan attends Bedford Modern School and was prompted to enter the competition by his English teacher Dr Paul Barnes.

Dan’s main prize is a £1,000 travel voucher, sponsored by Audi, which will also provide a car for his parents to enjoy for a week. Also in Dan’s winning package are a guided tour of the Aston Martin plant at Gaydon in the Midlands and a passenger ride in one of the factory cars with a works driver.

A visit for Dan and family to Mercedes-Benz World at Brooklands is also included in the winner’s prizes and he’ll be able to take a Mercedes around the track or on an off-road course too – and treat the family to a splendid lunch.

The Phils award is named for the late Phil Llewellin, a respected member of the Midland Group whose stories about driving cars in interesting places all over the world appeared in countless magazines and newspapers. The award sets out to encourage creativity in young people interested in telling a story of motoring, cars and travel.

There are two possible awards: the Phil (open to all entrants aged up-to 18) and the Junior Phil (for entrants aged up-to 16). This year, young Dan’s entry so impressed the judges that they made him the outright winner despite being entered into the younger category.

For the first time in the award’s history, a special runners-up prize of a £100 travel voucher was given to another 14-year-old; Daniel Lee from Whittington, near Oswestry (pictured left).

His 500 words story about taking an Aston Martin Vulcan on an imaginary race against the Northern Lights in Norway so impressed the judges they made this one-off special award.



cameron-taitThe winner of the 2016 John Connor Award is Cameron Tait, who graduated from Coventry University in November and has already started work in the industry, as motoring and technology editor for Dennis Publishing’s The Week.

Cameron joins a roll-call of worthy winners of the award which is given to the Coventry University automotive journalism student who produces the best final project as part of his degree. Cameron won for developing a concept for a website that collates web reviews of cars and helps readers to get an overall view of one car compared to another.

The MGMW award is named in honour of highly respected group member, John Connor, who died in a car accident in 2014. He was a strong supporter of introducing the original MGMW Coventry student award and had a long track record of training journalists at his papers.

In addition to the kudos of winning the award, Cameron Tait gets a cheque for £250 and a framed certificate.

Former winners of the MGMW John Connor Award include Sam Sheehan (2015), who is now at Autocar where he is a Senior Staff Writer, and Jan Conesa (2014), who is now working in a media analysis role for Seat in his native Spain.



bob-wright-group-stratfordMore than 30 MGMW members and their partners enjoyed the annual Christmas lunch, held once again in the Rooftop Restaurant of the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford upon Avon. Ford press office team member, Bob Wright, who is retiring after more than 37 years with the company, was guest of honour along with his wife Bev.

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green-apple-2016The all-electric Renault Zoe has taken top honours at the 2016 Green Apple Awards.

The awards, presented on November 11 at the House of Commons, single out cars that are both good to drive and economical in the real world. They are organised by Midlands-based The Green Organisation and judged by members of the Midland Group of Motoring Writers.

After clinching the category for pure electric and hybrid cars, the Zoe went to take the Green Apple champion title, beating a diesel version of the Audi A6 in second place overall.

A judge said: “The Zoe shows Renault’s commitment to the future of electric power in an affordable package that looks good, drive well and does its bit to make the planet a little bit greener.”

MGMW Green Apple Awards in full


The Mazda2 1.5 litre diesel had to be content with second spot this time, after a category win last year. The supermini champion for 2016 is the car that was runner-up in 2015 – in the shape of the petrol powered Suzuki Celerio Dualjet.

One judge said: “It is a remarkably driveable and economical city car.”


Second place went to the Honda Civic 1.6 i-DETC, chosen, as one of the judges said, “because it is stylish, good to drive and refined, and one of the most genuinely economical cars in its class.”

The winner is another British-built hatch, the new Vauxhall Astra 1.6 CDTi 110 Ecoflex. A Midland Group judge commented: “The new Astra shows there’s lots of life left in diesels.”


Here the fight was, perhaps not surprisingly, between a couple of cars from Germany. In the end second place went to the BMW 320d ED with the winner emerging as the Volkswagen Passat 1.6 TDI Bluemotion.

SMALLER SUVs and 4x4s:

A whole year has not been able to shake the judges from their 2015 decisions. That means in second spot we have the Nissan Qashqai 1.5dCi 110 2WD while the winner, for the second consecutive year, is the Dacia Duster 1.5 dCi 110 4×2.

A judge said of the Dacia: “It’s cheap, it’s cheerful, it’s rugged and does what it says on the tin without any fuss or needless frills. The running costs are great, as is the price to buy or lease.”


The Uber driver’s favourite Toyota Prius drives quietly into second spot. The winner this year, though, is the Renault Zoe, the French car maker’s entry into affordable purely electric family transport.


In second place is the impressive Jaguar XF E-Performance but it has to give way to this year’s winner, for the second year in a row – the Audi A6 2.0 TDI Ultra.

One of our judges said: “The Audi has a build quality that is second to none. Love the handsome looks, the logical switchgear, the fuel tank that keeps on giving and the effortless mile munching, planted drive.”