Coach of the Year
The focus of this award is very much on the vehicles from the passenger perspective.
The design of buses and coaches has been changing rapidly in recent years, driven by the need to meet new regulations on emissions, noise and accessibility, but also by the need to accommodate new technology and higher standards of facilities demanded by customers.
But the passenger’s viewpoint needs to be paramount, if the industry is to survive and prosper – especially when, for many people, the ‘competition’ comes in the form of ever more sophisticated and well-equipped cars.
Judges are looking for comfort, facilities and ease of access as well as exterior appeal and mechanical reliability.
The Winner: Setra 416GTHD (Evobus (UK) Limited)
The Setra wins the award for the fourth year in a row, having been nominated by operators from all over the country.
The Setra Comfort Class S416 GT-HD is one of the most modern and innovative coaches to be found on Europe's roads today, setting new standards in safety, design and economy.
Comfort, safety and cost-effectiveness are the cornerstones for the success of this model which offers pleasantly bright passenger space with generous panoramic windows and ergonomically designed seats. High-quality materials, a subdued noise level, superior air conditioning and ventilation, combined with a distinctive selection of equipment all contribute to making long journeys as comfortable as possible.
The judges noted that Setra's long service intervals and proverbial reliability keep life-cycle costs low. Attention to detail such as weight optimisation on the rooftop air conditioning system, which results in fuel savings, and the increased use of LED lighting technology (longer service life saves money and extends service intervals) all help to explain the enthusiasm of users who nominate this model. At the same time, high value-retention and long-lasting quality contribute to making pre-owned Setra coaches popular. Although the competition was strong, this Setra, introduced in 2005, still has the edge.
Runner Up: Volvo B9R/Plaxton Elite (Plaxton Limited)
The Plaxton Elite 12.6 is based on the Volvo B9R platform, a chassis Plaxton have worked with since its launch into the UK. Deliveries of the Elite 12.6 commencied early in 2010.
The Elite project was designed to develop a flagship touring coach with style, a unique appearance and new standards of efficiency and practicality. In the three model Elite range, the 12.6m variant has proved to be the biggest seller, having found widespread appeal for touring, corporate charter and as a front line express coach on operations where a premium image is desirable.
The judges were impressed by the seating options and configurability of the design, for example the demountable centre WC, and the ease of access for the less mobile passenger. They also noted that the design was focussed on the future with a planned lengthy production life.
Neoplan Tourliner (M.A.N. UK)
First imported into the UK in 2007, the Neoplan Tourliner has become established as a robust and flexible vehicle.
Operators who nominated this praised its "excellent build, service, MPG and backup."
As one operator told us, "In a demanding and price-driven market, this vehicle is a superb, versatile, quality touring coach of a high build standard at a competitive price. The bumper to bumper 3 year warranty, fuel efficiency, the back up service from MAN Bus and Coach and build quality make the Neoplan Tourliner one of the most popular touring coaches available in the UK market."
Bova Futura (Moseley)
Bova’s integral coach was first introduced into the UK in 1981 with the Europa model. This was followed by the Futura in 1983, with its distinctive curved front. Over the years since, the design has evolved to become one of the most popular vehicles on the market.
The longer length 13 and 14 metre versions were introduced to the UK in 2005, and these continue to prove a popular choice. The coach is available in two different heights.
Operators praised the design and the economy of the Futura in nominating it for this award.
Who could be nominated?
The chassis manufacturer and/or body builder of any public service vehicle designed for charter or longer distance travel currently available for purchase within the United Kingdom.
… and by whom?
Coach operators were asked to nominate vehicles in their fleet which experience has shown to have high levels of passenger appeal and won praise from customers – as well as being reliable and efficient to operate.
Criteria and Entry Requirements
People nominating vehicles were asked to state the reasons for their nomination, which was followed by a judging process.
The criteria for deciding on the Coach of the Year included:
- Accessibility for passengers
- Passenger comfort
- Passenger facilities
- Interior Noise level
- Fuel efficiency
- Carbon emissions level.