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Winning start to 2023 with SGMW New Year Honours

Top cars and PR stars have been recognised with Southern Group of Motoring Writers’ awards which welcome in 2023.

The SGMW New Year Honours go to the manufacturers and PR teams and individuals whose outstanding efforts have gone the extra mile to make motoring memorable and help SGMW members over the past 12 months.

SGMW members were keen to make sure manufacturers, teams and individuals received the acclaim they deserved with some keenly-fought contests and a record number of people voting.

SGMW chairman Ian Robertson said: “The SGMW New Year Honours continue to go from strength to strength. This year we had a record number of votes from our members which highlights how much we all appreciate the efforts of the manufacturers and PR teams.

There were some clear winners while other categories were unbelievably close, going right to the wire as the votes came in.

Electric cars, or one in particular, made a big impression with our members but it was also good see to see a lot of support for a legendary petrol-powered hot-hatchback.”

The Southern Star crown was a fitting tribute to the late, great Sue Baker

The MG4 EV was a double winner, taking the coveted SGMW Car of the Year crown by a clear margin. But it also scooped the Dark Horse of the Year trophy with members seeing this more affordable electric hatchback as a potential game-changer and the next MG to entice drivers to EVs.

Genesis won a hat-trick of trophies with press officer Sam Buckingham taking the Best PR Newcomer title, by just one vote in a close contest, after a very busy start to his career.

Genesis also won the Best in PR Innovation award for the international launch of the all-electric GV60 SUV. Invited guests experienced the Genesis We Come To You promise with a GV60 delivered straight to their hotel balcony in Frankfurt, Germany.

The brand’s third award went to Genesis Motor UK head of PR and communications Simon Branney who won our O.B.E. (Operating Beyond Expectation) award for the second year running and the third time in his career which highlights how much his combination of going the extra mile for so many people and making motoring PR fun is appreciated.

With EVs an increasingly big part of the motoring scene, it was good to see so many people looking forward to driving the 2023 Honda Civic Type R which topped the One to Watch 2023 category. It will be interesting to see the impact of the latest version of this petrol-powered hot-hatch as the Civic celebrates its half-century.

Kia UK continued to dominate the Best PR Office category and won the top award again this year, building on several years of success for this slick team.

The final SGMW award, the Southern Star, is an in-house accolade for a member who has made a big difference.

This year it was a poignant contest with the winner being a member we sadly lost. Sue Baker touched the lives of so many SGMW members, and the whole motoring world, over the years with her friendship, guidance, encouragement and humour. She really was a shining star.

The full results for the SGMW New Year Honours 2023, with opinions from voting members, are:


Awarded to someone who made a special impact in liaising 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 – Sam Buckingham (Press officer, Genesis Motor UK)

“‘Thrown in at the deep end’ could be a phrase invented for Sam Buckingham. In his first PR posting, he has risen to the challenge of representing the Genesis brand brilliantly as it establishes itself in the UK. Sam has integrated seamlessly into one of the most charismatic PR teams in the industry with a level of enthusiasm and professionalism that is truly appreciated by SGMW members.”

Runner-up – Tamara Better (Product communications section manager, Nissan GB)


For acting above and beyond the call of PR duty during the past year. It can be for consistent high performance, a memorable one-off effort, or a thoughtful gesture towards one of our members caught in a bind.

Winner  Simon Branney (Head of PR and communications, Genesis Motor UK)

“Simon Branney at Genesis made sure Pro Driver had a GV80 for our CoTY event ahead of the press launch. And it won!”

Runner-up Jess Grimditch (Press officer, Suzuki GB)


Awarded to the operation consistently delivering the best all-round or forward-thinking service to SGMW throughout the year.

Winner  Kia UK

“Kia again! Consistently supportive in providing a professional service to showcase an excellent product range to our members.”

Runner-up – Suzuki GB


Awarded for an unusual or particularly excellent launch, driving route, or any imaginative addition to an event of the PR year in general.

Winner – Genesis GV60 international launch

“Genesis for the ‘Car Hotel’ at the GV60 launch. Park and recharge on your balcony!”


A car that surprised SGMW members, either by its arrival or just how good it was.

Winner – MG4 EV

“MG4 simply exceeded expectations on all fronts.”


The car that SGMW members most look forward to driving in the coming year.

Winner – Honda Civic Type R

“As the Honda Civic celebrates half a century, and in an era of electric vehicles, it is great to see that a high-performance hot hatchback can still excite the motoring world. A fitting tribute and a brave move.”

Winner – MG4 EV

“A very pleasantly surprising car. An unbelievable price, with a driving experience, equipment list and all-electric driving range to shade major rivals.”


For the group member who has done most for the organisation or its profile or done something praiseworthy or beyond the call of duty.

Winner – the late Sue Baker

“As for SGMW Southern Star, I’m not sure if posthumous votes are ‘allowed’, but I really think it should go to the lovely and much-missed Sue Baker.”

Main Image: The MG4 EV was voted the Southern Group of Motoring Writers’ Car of the Year and also won the ‘Dark Horse’ award

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